This is part two of our series examining how to create and commit to a successful continuous improvement plan that fits your enterprise — and delivers results.
In 2017, technology is expected to help boost manufacturing profits by 34 percent. This means the pressure is on for warehouses and distribution centers to improve their own efficiencies and profit margins.
Though continuous improvement might be daunting, measurement tools and big data make it not only conceivable, but achievable.
Telematics software gathers data on the skills and actual working capacity of all employees throughout the facility. It looks at continuous improvement holistically.
- Performance measurements are expanded to include assets, such as poorly performing machinery, or used in collaboration to determine efficiencies with suppliers or vendors.
- Operational efficiencies can be measured to determine inefficiencies in process such as truck loading or factory routes that may add additional time to product movement or to the duties of each worker picking the product.
A step by step guide to creating your plan
Continuous improvement plans don’t require complexity to work. Here are 5 simple steps for success.
Step 1: Create a corporate culture that supports continuous improvement
Continuous improvement requires small incremental changes that improve efficiency. To be successful, this culture change — doing things differently — needs to be led by someone from management level.
Step 2: Determine your approach
Start small, and look for quick changes that will improve efficiencies. Utilize methodologies such as Kaizen, which emphasize:
- Working as team
- Speaking with data, managing with facts
Step 3: Encourage participation
Employees are your greatest asset in succeeding in your continuous-improvement plan. Encourage their participation through rewards, acknowledgement, and by implementing their ideas.
Step 4: Set realistic goals
Realistic goals are those you can achieve. Your goals should be SMART (specific, measureable, realistic, and time bound). Involve your employees or teams when determining goals; their participation can be the key to being successful in reaching them.
Step 5: Determine technology resources
Use the right technology to get the information you need to reach your goals. Many organizations use a telematics system for gathering data regarding forklift utilization, operators, job tracking, safety incidents, and identifying problem KPIs.
3 ways telematics supports continuous-improvement plans
Your telematics system should be making your plan easy to track, control and adjust. Look for:
- Telematics reports that determine the optimal number of forklifts and operators needed per shift, looking at peaks, averages, and the actual number of trucks needed.
- Report cards on KPIs that measure impacts by operator and by forklift, safety checklists, and activity by operator and forklift. Managers see where and why KPIs are not on target.
- Battery monitoring that provides data to maximize the life of your batteries, maximize battery utilization, and identify related forklift downtime.
Continuous-improvement goals are achieved when employees understand challenges and support the improvement plan. It is crucial to have a telematics system in place that identifies issues and determines precise ways to address them.