Innovate production processes: here are the 3 pillars

improve and innovate processes

Innovate production processes: how to do it?

Today we will talk about the three main methodologies to improve the capability of production processes:

  • Relax tolerances thanks to concurrent engineering in the Product Development phase
  • Reduce process variability through continuous improvement and Lean Six Sigma
  • Shift the mean of processes through continuous improvement and the Manufactuing Capability Acquisition

Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma

Those involved in the improvement of production processes know how much Lean Six Sigma is the reference methodology in this sense. Without going into technical details, Lean Manufacturing, or Lean Production, aims to “streamline” processes by identifying, reducing or even eliminating waste within production systems and the supply chain, but not only. Just as to obtain sports results it is necessary to lose weight, in the same way it is necessary to eliminate all that is not strictly necessary for the flow and processing of materials and information in order to satisfy the customer by reducing production costs, the cycle times of semi-finished products and improving the quality of the processes.

On the other hand, Six Sigma gives its best when you want to reduce the variability within the processes. Variability is in fact responsible for the uncertainty associated with a company’s production system. A high uncertainty, for example, does not allow us to estimate costs, times and the amount of material needed with the necessary accuracy. High uncertainty in processes also means high probability of rejection, with a consequent increase in associated non-quality costs.

It is therefore clear that Lean Six Sigma is a necessary tool for companies with a view to continuous improvement. However, even if necessary, it may not be enough.

Concurrent Engineering

We have already described in a previous post the importance of concurrent engineering, i.e. that phase of product design that considers aspects related to the production, assembly and maintenance. In the concurrent engineering phase, costs and production times are defined.

By means of simultaneous design, in fact, the experts of the production processes are involved in order to prevent problems in the subsequent production ramp-up phase.

As can be seen in the following figure, according to some estimates, the design impacts by 5% on Product Development costs, while it affects the costs associated with the entire life cycle of the product by 70%.

The final result will be a synergistic effort to arrive at the best possible design compromise, thanks to which many of the improvement activities (see Lean Six Sigma) can be avoided.

However, a good initial project and a structured activity of continuous improvement may not be enough, especially in the presence of innovative design products (geometries, materials, functionality). In this case, in fact, it may be necessary to acquire a new production capability.


Manufacturing Capability Acquisition

When Concurrent Engineering and Lean Six Sigma were not sufficient to guarantee robust processes capable of satisfying both the design and operational requirements of the factory, the third way forward is to acquire new capabilities. The acquisition of production capability can take place through different paths, more or less expensive in terms of use of economic and human resources.

It’s possible to acquire new capabilities throughout technology scouting, looking for, identifying and selecting the best technology or the most suitable solution to reduce the gap.

Otherwise, it’s possible to do Open Innovation through collaborations between companies, technology transfer centers and universities in order to develop new production technologies.

Finally, if the company is properly structured, it is possible to implement a technological research and development department with the aim of developing new solutions internally.
In particular, in the presence of innovative production processes that do not exist on the market, the use of a Stage-Gate process is recommended. In this sense, the MRL approach is perhaps the most used.

Manufacturing Capability Management

These 3 approaches (Concurrent Engineering, Lean Six Sigma and Manufacturing Capability Acquisition) used in a synergic way, shape the  Manufacturing Capability Management structured process.


Therefore, through this approach companies are able to manage their production capability by leveraging existing methodologies to innovate production processes.

Where to start?

In this short post we have described the main 3 approaches to innovate production processes in a company. This entails a series of rather evident advantages, starting from a better manufacturing quality of the manufactured articles, lower waste, lower costs and lower crossing times.

In this sense, Accialini Training & Consulting can provide the support you seek. In fact, we are able to advise you on the processes and methodologies to be implemented depending on the current state, budget and business requirements. Is it better to redesign a detail according to the logic of simultaneous engineering or better to make continuous improvement? Or, do we need to acquire new capability, and if so, which approach to follow? Check out our Manufacturing Capability Management service.

For more info, contact us to discuss your needs more in detail.
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I had the pleasure of attending some of his valuable courses. Technically very capable and excellent dialectic and interlocutory ability.
Industry innovations and the latest in technology are his strong point.

Giovanni Veronese
CEO, Studio Tecnico Sistemi S.r.l.

Nicola was super engaging, very clear, always open to debate and willing to accept different points of view. Very helpful even outside the course hours for doubts. Positive experience. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Katia Gaspari
CAD Designer, SDM tooling S.r.l.

Extremely interesting course performed by a competent and professional speaker ready for any answer for doubts and perplexities

Alberto Dalmasso
CAD Designer, SDM tooling S.r.l.

Nicola is a very experienced manufacturing engineer, especially on gears. He adopted ideas from the big, trending themes like Industry 4.0, big data and automation and turned them into pragmatic solutions.

Tim Sowa
Capability Acquisition Leader, Aerospace Transmission Technologies

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