February 17, 2021

Virtually every business process includes a certain amount of waste–whether on the shop floor or in the front office. Without a structured, proven means of identifying and reducing that waste through process improvement, productivity and profitability are sure to suffer.

Alan Shell, DVIRC’s Senior Advanced Manufacturing Specialist and a Master Black Belt, has a unique perspective on the importance of process improvement and the specific ways DVIRC is helping small- and medium manufacturers address the matter of waste.

“Hiring is difficult these days. Considering what we are being asked to do with abbreviated shifts and other challenges, now is the best time to start improving processes in your system.”

“In my opinion, process improvement is the easiest, most economical way to improve output and bottom-line ROI,” Alan says. “And it will generate returns as long as the trained employees stay with the company. They will be able to deliver gains to the organization for as long as they are part of your team.”

To this end, DVIRC offers its Level One Lean Certification—a comprehensive series of workshops that introduces Lean principles and prepares participants to successfully implement the basic tools of a Lean enterprise.

DVIRC’s approach also includes our new Lean Tools and Essentials course, which takes critical components from the Level One Lean Certification course and creates a refined package for those looking to learn and implement Lean tools. This course—which focuses on key elements such as Value Stream Mapping, A3 Thinking & Teaming, Root Cause Analysis, and more—is a great first step for manufacturing, quality, engineering, or office employees who will be hands-on Lean practitioners.

DVIRC’s updated Lean Tools and Essentials training is the perfect foundational building block for those starting their Lean journey, with its focus on learning and implementing Lean tools. Over the course of six days, participants gain an understanding of Lean and its advantages, learning how to recognize and eliminate waste, and how to identify and map value streams.

Through one-on-one coaching time with our Master Black Belt course instructors, they will develop and complete a project specific to their company, identifying and solving a business-improvement problem that will deliver measurable benefits. On average, each of these projects yields a minimum of $50,000 in cost savings.

“Beyond the specific project, the course enables participants to take the tools learned to become effective change agents,” Alan says. “We also encourage interaction with other learners to share ideas for improvements across different companies and industries.”

Shell adds that even though our current environment can make process improvement issues seem like secondary concerns the opposite is actually true. “Hiring is difficult these days,” he says. “Considering what we are being asked to do with abbreviated shifts and other challenges, now is the best time to start improving processes in your system.”

The primary benefits for those who invest in process improvement are reduced costs, increased throughput, better on-time delivery, and fewer customer complaints. From there, Alan says, it’s a straight line to improved competitiveness.

Process improvement also relates directly to workforce development. Companies implementing Lean can flourish through a combination of these tools and soft skill development for key people.

Shell says that process/workforce improvement will even help with employee retention; when employees feel that they are part of the process, their sense ownership increases. This training builds their understanding and underscores their importance to your team.

Process improvement also encompasses Six Sigma. DVIRC’s Six Sigma Green- and Black Belt courses offer a proven means of gaining expertise for those who hope to further understand the roles that Continuous Improvement, waste reduction, and other Lean principles play within key business functions.

“It’s important to start with an understanding of what Lean and Six Sigma are,” Alan says. “Simply put, they are tools—methodologies and culture changes that enable companies to drive throughput.”

For those who would like to leverage Lean management skills to lead their company’s transformation into a Lean Enterprise, DVIRC will soon offer a Lean Certification for Leaders course. The skills learned here are expected to include the best ways to communicate and improve business processes, encouraging interaction with other learners to share ideas for improvements across different companies and industries.

The course will build on the Lean Tools & Essentials program, helping participants expand their understanding of what customers truly perceive as value and distinguishing value-added from non-value-added activities to eliminate costly waste.

During seven training days—four classroom days, two project coaching days, and a plant tour/report-out day—participants will learn how to plan for change while they pick up proven tips, techniques, and tools for managing and sustaining that change. They will also learn to move from an “event-driven” culture to a “daily driven” culture, the best way for rapid responses to meet changing marketplace demands.

“This would be beneficial knowledge for any leadership position—from the CEO to a first-line supervisor,” Alan says. “But it’s focused on those who set and lead policy changes at the company level.”

To learn more about DVIRC’s Lean offerings and other workforce development training courses, click here.