American manufacturing is most definitely back in a big way—and it’s also definitely one of the most competitive and innovative manufacturing industries in the world. In order to remain competitive, American companies must continuously improve and focus on bettering their operations and products on a minute-to-minute basis.
This extreme focus on continuous improvement is something we take very seriously, and very personally. We realize the level of trust our clients put in us, and we’ll never sit back and rest on past success. We know that no matter how good a business is, there’s always room for improvement, and in order to continue to improve internally and remain profitable, this method must be implemented, maintained, and tracked throughout every aspect of the business.
We do this in a number of ways. One of them is through benchmarking, a practice that goes hand-in-hand with our continuous improvement efforts. Just as coaches of successful sports teams look at what other teams are doing effectively, and then use those principles and practices, we, as a manufacturer, do the same.
We often find the best use of benchmarking is by looking at our customers, for whom we have great respect. We will visit customers’ manufacturing facilities and see how they perform certain operations, picking and choosing what’s successful and relevant to our own facilities.
One customer of ours, a Tier 1 supplier, demonstrated an innovative inventory storage system, showing what was last produced and what stock was oldest. We subsequently implemented the same method with great success.
Another Tier 1 client of ours was holding daily meetings to track action items—now we use the same practice in our Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP).
Using benchmarking along with our other practices in continuous improvement allows us to achieve across-the-board progress, while setting a baseline and tracking our growth along the way. While not every change occurs overnight, but rather is a constant work in progress with consistent forward momentum, it all leads to noticeable success.