NB - Premier Event with Continuous / Productivity Improvement Focus

December 4, 2019 Joan RichardNew Brunswick & PEI 237 Views

As we work away at Continuous Improvement initiatives in house, there is an untapped value through benchmarking and learning from other’s challenges, successes and methods. Recently, at the request of members, the first of quarterly event was held at AV Nackawic with a discussion around the value of benchmarking and ‘what are the barriers’ to successful CI advancement.

The folks at AV Nackawic are focused on improvement every day through various programs and training initiatives led by Dave McKean of AV Group with training support from Tim McEwen of Wavez. Our thanks to both for leading the conversation / benchmarking discussion., EMC Canada, New Brunswick

The event began with a round table discussion on the ‘pain points’ of successful initiatives. In order to accomplish the goals understanding what gets in the way is key. Although there was an agreement that training and knowledge is necessary on the tools and processes of lean, non of the points were actually about ‘Lean Manufacturing’ itself.

Instead of stating these as challenges, they are opportunities to build on:

  • Top down Engagement is critical
  • Consider generational integration
  • Keep in mind innovation toward automation Obtain a balance between running the plant and improvement initiatives
  • Move away from fire fighting and the ‘hero’ mode
  • Create innovation in processes and systems
  • Play down the ‘silo effect’ – remove those barriers
  • Move from consistent chaos to controlled processes
  • Manage customer expectations
  •  Think and plan foreword
  • Effeciency before Capital investment

Throughout the discussion, there were four topics that emerged for the next events as these are seen as key to successful productivity improvement:

  • A discussion on Engagement – Intrinsic. If you can get this right, you can accomplish a lot.
  • Predictive and preventative Maintenance – removing unplanned down time is seen as a critical foundational piece for improvement. Removing the wildcard!
  • Inventory Control – the right product in the right place at the right time
  • The benifits of Daily / Visual Management

These topics will tentatively be scheduled for March. June and November of 2020 and I will work to provide opportunities for subject matter expertise and benchmarking in each area.

Also, to be considered for cost reduction is Energy CI. If you do not have an inhouse initiative, you may find the Energy Efficiency Program for small and medium size businesses through NB Power is a valuable start. It can potentially provide support for assessment and projects and suggests target areas of:

  • Lighting
  • Compressed Air Equipment
  • Motor Drive Upgrades

In my experience, compressed air is a big one and if you can hear a hissing sound in your plant…..that’s money!


Through discussions with PEI members it appears this type of event could be a valuable resource. Because one of the topics brought forward is already scheduled for January 21st at Elanco in Charlottetown, (register here) this will be an opportunity to get feedback on how they would like to move foreword. My hope is that through partnerships, we can evolve this event and possibly add further valuable content in both provinces.

Thank you as always to our host and Dave for sharing best practices, Tim McEwen and participants for a successful discussion.