Checklist for Processes Improvement


Improvement is made by:

  • Viewing all work as a process, whether it is associated with production or business activities.
  • Making all processes effective, efficient, and adaptable.
  • Anticipating changing customer needs.
  • Controlling in-process performance using  measures such as scrap reduction, cycle time, control charts, and so forth,
  • Maintaining constructive dissatisfaction with the present level of performance.
  • Eliminating waste and rework wherever it occurs.
  • Investigating activities that do not add value to the product or service, with the aim of eliminating those activities.
  • Eliminating nonconformities in all phases of everyone’s work, even if the increment of improvement is small.
  • Using benchmarking to improve competitive advantage.
  • Innovating to achieve breakthroughs.
  • Incorporating lessons learned into future activities.
  • Using technical tools such as statistical process control, experimental design, benchmarking, quality function deployment, and so forth.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Japan’s Manufacturing Techniques


Nations are built not with bricks and stones but with the capacity to create and apply knowledge. The result of knowledge creation and application in manufacturing and management practices is well demonstrated by Japan. Today we are witness to many industrialized economies that are strengthening their manufacturing activities simply by adopting these techniques.

The distinguishing characteristics associated with Japanese manufacturing techniques include an emphasis on designing and redesigning processes to optimize efficiency and a strong commitment to quality.

The manufacturing techniques that Japanese companies practice provide a competitive advantage and outstanding economic performance. The key for success is an understanding of the broad context of manufacturing culture, infrastructure and environment. These sound manufacturing and business techniques created and adopted by leading Japanese manufacturers have turned out to be the secret of their market leadership in many industries.

Following are a few of these concepts, which can help in managing any business set-up in a better way:

  • Kaizen is one such technique, which in Japanese means ‘improve.’ This is commonly recognized as practices focusing on continuous improvement in manufacturing activities, business activities in general, and even life in general, depending on interpretation and usage. By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen helps in eliminating waste.
  • Another management Japanese technique is the 5-S. It is a technique used to establish and maintain quality environment in an organization. It has five elements: Seiri (sorting out useful and frequently used materials and tools from unwanted and rarely used things); Seiton (keeping things in the right place systematically so that searching or movement time is minimized); Seiso (keeping everything around you clean and in a neat manner); Seiketsu (standardizing the above principles in everyday life) and Shitsuke (inculcating good habits and practicing them continuously). The 5-S practice helps everyone in the organization to live a better life.
  • Kanban and ‘Just in Time’ are two other practices in inventory management practices that were pioneered by the Japanese automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota. Quality improvement, on the other hand, is the result of lower proportion of component scrap since the components spend less time in the supply chain.
  • Poka-yoke is a process improvement focused on training of workers for mastering the increasingly complicated tasks to selectively redesign the tasks so they could be more easily and reliably mastered. It involves designing a foolproof process to eliminate the chance of errors.
  • Jidoka is a practice by means of which an individual worker runs several machines simultaneously. Japan thus designs such machines that eliminate both error and the need for constant supervision.
  • Muda is another technique that reduces wasteful activity in service processes. It ensures process efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Mura curiously combines rigidity and flexibility and thus teaches service process improvement.
  • Reducing Muri means reducing physical strain. In services process improvement, Muri applies to convoluted and unnecessary routings, physical transfer, and distances paper files may have to travel for a process to complete.
  • Genchi Gembutsu means going to the actual scene (genchi) and confirming the actual scene (gembutsu). Observation of service processes at the point where it is actually delivered may unearth a host of problems such as lack of training, unnecessary steps, or a number of other areas that would benefit from small but significant process improvement ideas.

This is a glimpse of manufacturing techniques that Japan has so intellectually created and so profoundly practiced in its manufacturing systems that even with no natural resources, it has acquired the status of one of the most industrialized nations. Can we learn from Japan?

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight.

Inspect Products at the Right Time


Inspections used to be left until the later stages of the process – often just before the finished products were delivered to customers. As there was more chance of a product being faulty by the end of the process, all defects could be found in one big, final inspection. But the longer a unit is in a process, the more time and money is spent on it – so it makes sense to find faults as early as possible before any more money is wasted by working on a defective unit. It is better for a baker to find bad eggs when they arrive at the bakery, rather than use the eggs and then scrap the finished cakes.

Your first quality control inspections should come at the beginning of the process, testing materials as they arrive from suppliers – and there is a strong case for inspections within suppliers’ own operations. Then you should have inspections all the way through the process to the completion of the final product and its delivery to customers. Some particularly important places for insperctions are:

  • On raw materials when they arrive;
  • At regular intervals during the process;
  • Before high-cost operations;
  • Before irreversible operations, like firing pottery;
  • Before operations that might hide defects, like painting;
  • When production is complete;
  • Before shipping to customers.

This may seem like a lot of inspections, but remember that most of them are done by people working on the process. Quality at source means that the products are not taken away for testing in some remote laboratory, but are checked at each step before being passed on the next step.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Six Sigma


Six Sigma is a statistical measure used to ensure quality of products and services. The six sigma academy has developed a break through strategy consisting of measure, analyze, improve and control, that allows companies to make exceptional bottom-line improvements. In addition to the material and labor savings, which flow directly to the bottom line, a company engaged in six sigma can expect to see:

a. Improved customer satisfaction

b. Reduced cycle time

c. Increased productivity, Reduction in total defect

d. Improved process flow.

Implementing, six sigma program in manufacturing means more than delivering defect-free product after final test or inspection. It also entails concurrently maintaining in process yields around 99.9999998 percent, defective rates below 0.002 parts per million and virtually eradicating defects, rework and scrap. Other six sigma characteristics include operating processes under statistical control, controlling input process variables, rather than the usual output product variables, maximizing equipment uptime and optimizing cycle time. In a six sigma organization, employees assess their job functions with respect to how they improve the organization. They define their goals and quantify where they are currently, their status quo. Then they work to minimize the gap and achieve six sigma by a certain date.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight