The continuous process improvement (CPI) program is designed to involve all employees in the never-ending process to push Accumold to be better in all aspects of our business. Any ideas to improve quality, safety, or productivity, no matter how big or small, are evaluated to determine if the long-term benefit to the organization outweighs the cost of implementation. The process is remarkably straightforward.
The Simplicity of Continuous Process Improvement
Ideas are submitted either electronically or via hard copy to any given person’s supervisor, who loops in the Continuous Process Improvement manager. After the CI manager and supervisor decide if the idea can be pursued, responsibility for the idea is assigned to an staff member close to, or involved with, the area most impacted.
That person is responsible for investigating the idea, underlying issues, and acquiring the necessary resources to successfully implement it. The individual also quantifies the overall benefit of the idea, assigning one (or more) categories. Categories include cost-saving, time saving, productivity improvements, or a reduction in accidents.
Continuous Improvement Process Incentives and Fun
To make the initiative more fun and engaging, we also created a continuous process improvement steering committee that. On a quarterly basis, this committee evaluates all the ideas completed, determining which is the best, based on the benefit to the company.
The quarterly winner receives a $100 cash bonus, a paid day off, and is celebrated at the quarterly meeting.
We also snap a picture of the winner with our CEO, Roger Hargens giving out an oversized check highlighting the award. All other participants who had ideas implemented within the quarter are put in a drawing for a $25 cash bonus.
Employee idea programs have been around for a long time and can have a big impact on a business, especially in micro molding, where our process is entirely custom and proprietary. The challenge is to keep everyone engaged and a continues stream of ideas.
Cash is fun, but the most vital aspect to our program, is making sure every idea is handled in a timely matter whether it is implemented or not, and providing feedback to the employee.
Continuous process improvement takes a concerted effort to make the program successful. It needs to be highly visible and easy for people to access and submit ideas, plus leadership needs to be continually promoting it. Continuous improvement doesn’t happen by chance.
Mark Schilling is the Continuous Improvement Manager for Accumold and holds a BASc from The University of Iowa in Industrial Engineering.