Ideas for improving manufacturing processes

The best people to generate good ideas for improving manufacturing processes are those who’re doing the actual work, whether they’re on the factory floor or supervising things from the office. It’s essential for both supervisors and managers to solicit suggestions from workers for improving manufacturing processes. As such, they need to instill in employees awareness about concepts such as waste, the value of standardizing processes, and a focus on continuous improvement, regardless of how small those improvements may be.


Such ideas are the basis of lean manufacturing, which embraces constant improvement and offers an excellent starting point for manufacturing process-improvement.

Waste identification

It’s possible to streamline many processes through correct waste identification. Wasted materials derive from defects in products, movement, overproduction, processing, waiting, inventory and transportation. Training in lean manufacturing focuses on identifying waste and how to reduce it. As such, it’s a great way to begin to identify ideas for process improvement.

Eliminate what customers don’t value-stream

This is another great way to identify process improvement ideas. For example, tolerances built into products that the customer doesn’t care about are not valuable. This is a clear case of “overdesign” and it should be eliminated. As such, manufacturing organizations can adopt a process called value stream mapping, which identifies each step in the manufacturing process and decided whether or not customers value those steps. If it’s decided customers do not place value in a particular step, that step should be considered for elimination. On many occasions, waste identification can overlap with discovering which processes aren’t considered valuable.

Training in eliciting process improvements

It’s necessary to train both management and shop floor employees in how to elicit process-improvement suggestions. When employees appreciate that the management are willing and keen to listen to and implement their ideas on process-improvement, they will readily and continuously offer suggestions on how things Can be improved.

Build a culture of continuous improvement

It’s important for organizations to create a culture of continuous improvement. As such, employees need to know that all of their ideas, no matter how small, will be considered and implemented if they prove to be worthwhile. This understanding helps to build such a culture of continuous improvement. Part of this means offering open analysis, approval and implementation processes for employee’s ideas, so the whole process is transparent. Companies can further encourage employees to provide ideas by offering incentives for each one that is implemented.


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