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Case Study

Continuous Process Improvement When It Counts Most

Quality Progress
May 2000
Volume 33 Issue 5
pp. 74-80
Czarnecki, Hank; Schroer, Bernard J.; Adams, Mel; Spann, Mary S.


Managers are challenged to address the radical changes that have occurred in the manufacturing industry in the past two decades. Managers often use continuous process improvement and computer simulations to help them reduce waste, improve quality, ensure workplace safety, and increase productivity. Many manufacturing plants could improve productivity and quality dramatically by combining the two approaches of CPI and simulation. The approaches complement each other, and when they are combined, they can help management identify problems in manufacturing processes and give instant feedback on the impact of improvements. Continuous improvement organizes employees and processes in order to maximize customers' value and satisfaction. Employees become part of the continuous improvement process so decisions become a team effort. Computer simulation can be integrated with continuous improvement through the Plan, Do, Study and Act cycle. Simulations allow managers to see and test virtual implementation of plans before expending resources of time and money during the Act phase. Simulation models of expansion plants were developed for a major manufacturer of air handling equipment by the University of Alabama - Huntsville (UAH) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. The manufacturer was a client of the UAH-MEP and wanted to expand its operations by opening plants worldwide.

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