I have spent my career working in a variety of manufacturing roles. Currently, I oversee all manufacturing and sourcing for more than 30 manufacturing facilities around the world for MiTek, a diversified global supplier of integrated software, services, engineered products, and automated solutions to the building industry. Many are familiar with MiTek as the creator of steel connector plates, and while that remains the core of our business, the company has grown into a platform innovator and enabler with a mission to transform building.
Knowledge is key. I believe it’s crucial to the success of any organization that performance is accessible by all levels within the organization. Members must have the knowledge and understanding of the goals of the organization and be able to track the progress toward meeting those goals or falling short of them.
Before joining MiTek, I spent over 10 years at TE Connectivity in various manufacturing leadership roles. During that time, I focused very intently on Digital Factory to drive technology in coordination with Continuous Improvement. As part of this team, we created a global playbook that emphasized the sooner team members are alerted to challenges, the quicker they are resolved. This is good for customers as well as for productivity and quality.
Tiered meetings drive accountability and visibility. An agenda establishes who is responsible for leading the meeting and gives all attendees a road map of the information to be covered during the meeting. Each meeting offers the opportunity to reflect on the previous day’s work, review any outstanding tasks, and look ahead to the coming days.
It’s not enough to simply share that information during a tier meeting, but progress reports should be readily available at a glance. We must break down knowledge silos and give team members access to information in plain view of all tools, parts, production activities, indicators of production system performance, and accountability to actions, so the status of the system can be understood by everyone involved. Creating visual indicators helps motivate action by letting team members measure their own success.
To really create a culture of improvement though, communication must be multi-directional. Top-down communication simply won’t cut it; front-line team members possess valuable insight for improving processes, and they should be empowered to share their input. The narratives shared by team members can be compared to production data to drive evidence-based decision-making for the organization.
At MiTek, we have created a structured process for the escalation of issues to ensure a “Rapid Response” to an issue identified at the appropriate level with the assigned resources. This escalation process provides for the communication of the resolution of issues from the Tier resolving the issues to the Tier Raising the issue.
Each day, progress is tracked and communicated on a Daily Accountability Board, used to document assigned action for rapid resolution of problems and process improvement. This visual communication tool provides focus on the indicators showing gaps to targets, and it allows for the management of corrective actions and due dates.
Within our MiTek manufacturing facilities, we have utilized several communication tools including whiteboards and television monitors. We are also developing a strategy to utilize other tools to digitize the data, making it accessible everywhere. We want to ensure people working from home or traveling have the same visibility of those in the factory.
Since committing to a culture of continuous improvement, MiTek has identified several opportunities for creating more efficient processes and a road map for how to measure and achieve those milestones of success along the way.
In a time where labor is scarce and the supply chain is stalled, efficiency is key to being able to deliver maximum output with the available workforce. Finding ways to streamline processes even in small ways can add up to make a larger impact.
That’s really the foundation of what MiTek hopes to deliver to the marketplace as well. Our automated solutions aim to increase plant efficiency, reduce labor costs, and offer predictable performance with off-site solutions and prefabrication technology. We help industry partners achieve higher productivity and profitability for their business and deliver consistent, high-quality products for their customers.
“Top-down communication simply won’t cut it; front-line team members possess valuable insight for improving processes, and they should be empowered to share their input”
The approach is not about shrinking the workforce or eliminating people, rather, meeting our partners in their reality. We create opportunities for more skilled team members to focus on the tasks that demand greater skill and attention.
Advances in technology are enabling new levels of factory-floor data collection, aggregation, visualization, and analytics. Production can be driven by real-time information that empowers the workforce to make immediate, data-driven decisions. More data means faster and better decisions, and process optimization leads to better efficiency, quality, and a competitive advantage for MiTek. The best opportunity we have at MiTek for this is to monitor our stamping presses globally on one shared platform.