Case Study 2 – Continuous Improvement
Another employee saw an opportunity to use continuous improvement tools. His project was to reduce waste within the company. He identified that time was being wasted compiling and searching for specifications on the Sharepoint database. In addition, he thought that there was a possibility that an incorrect specification may be sent to a customer.
We consulted with Barclay Chemicals. In collaboration with the company, we created a new specifications library in their Sharepoint database. As a result, they implemented clear communications regarding specifications. Finally, they standardised and documented the process in their work instructions.
Most importantly, Barclay Chemicals have clearly defined the process. This continuous improvement project has reduced the work by 50% with no duplication of data.
8-Step Problem-Solving Process
In trying to solve a particular problem, we advise using the 8-Step Problem-Solving Process:
- Current State
- Root Cause Analysis
- Select Countermeasures
- Standardisation & Learnings
First of all, a Kaizen event is a team brainstorming workshop. Moreover, it has a specific goal to improve a business process and minimise waste within a department or company. Through “silent sharing”, we encourage all participants to think, reflect and share their ideas.
Next, we put all these ideas on an Impact/Ease Chart. This assesses the potential impact or benefits they will have on the company. The result is a visual representation of where best to assign time and resources. We don’t discard any issues. Moreover, their assessment may change over time as other problems are resolved. Then, we can summarise these four activities as follows:
- Just Do It – these ideas have high impact and are easy to do now.
- Why Not? – these issues have low impact and are easy to address.
- Projects – ideas that have high impact but are difficult to address.
- Not Now – issues that have low impact and are also difficult to address.
Subsequently, we selected the following countermeasures:
- Sharepoint issues – First of all, the company created a new specifications library in Sharepoint.
- Communication – Secondly, the organisation recognised that they must have clear communication between Laboratory, Registration and Supply Chain regarding the specifications.
- Responsibilities – Next, Barclay Chemicals defined all responsibilities and communicated these to all stakeholders.
- Standardisation – Then, they standardised and documented all specification processes in the work instructions.
- Administrator – Finally, Barclay Chemicals selected a Sharepoint Lab Administrator to audit the specifications library.
- The Supply Chain and Registration departments now have direct access to the new specification database.
- The site is easy to navigate. Certainly, all specifications are placed in clearly defined categories.
- Similarly, all specifications can now be directly e-mailed from the Sharepoint site.
- There is a request box on the new site and any requests made are linked directly to the recipients outlook account.
- Certainly, clear, concise and comprehensive work instructions are in place.
- Finally, the site is now audited regularly and the duration of all requests will be checked to ensure that the process is running smoothly.
- First of all, we needed to get the problem statement correct at the start of the process.
- Similarly, we should include all relevant people in the process.
- The Kaizen event was extremely helpful.
- We needed to communicate with the team throughout the project.
- Adhering to the implementation plan can be challenging. Especially, when we need to rely on others to complete some tasks.
- We needed to set realistic timeframes.
- Gathering the information and interpreting it correctly was key.
- Finally, the 8 step methodology worked very well for the successful completion of this project.
We firmly believe that the expertise to develop business process improvements already exist in every organisation. This has clearly been the case in Barclay Chemicals. Through their employees’ Lean projects, the company has made significant continuous improvements to their business.
ETAC has worked with Barclay Chemicals to streamline their business and improve their processes. We hope you enjoyed reading this case study on Continuous Improvement. You may be interested in reading the two other case studies featured here: Case Study 1 – Preventive Maintenance and Case Study 3 – Waste Elimination. All our case studies are available here.