Making Sustainable Improvement Work

November 16, 2012

Manufacturing is a long-term play. Systems are targeted not for the day or week, but rather for years or decades. Therefore, system development and improvement programs are long-lived as well.

What are the secrets of sustainable system improvement?

Mark Gavoor in his recent webinar The Right Data at the Right Place at the Right Time defined sustainable system improvement as:

Sustainable Improvement = Metrics + Lean + Process

Where the individual parameters are:

  • Metrics – Select the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to properly describe the process. This is a critical activity since only that which is measured can be managed.
  • Lean– Eliminate the non-productive activities and parts of the process. Use lean tools and methods to make the process efficient and effective – a process worth sustaining.
  • Process– See all work as process and to maintain system performance and stability, implement process controls and continuous improvement.


In all of this, Manufacturing Intelligence is the information infrastructure that makes it feasible. MI provides the way to view and understand the performance of the various metrics which in turn enable us to effectively implement the Lean and Continuous Improvement programs.

If you are in manufacturing, you know success is all about creating and managing for the long term. The investment is too high and the payback too long to try running a manufacturing plant for a quick hit and treating the capital and personnel investment as disposable.

 Check out the discussion on sustainable improvement in the new article Supply Chain Physics – The Information Age Upgrade for Supply Chain Management for new insights on how to manage your systems for the long run.


“With NWA Software, we have the support we need to back up our processes.”

Doug Smith, Chemist, Praxair

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