Process Improvements Can be Big or Small and Are Essential to Your Culture
Written by: Crystal Booth, M.M.- Regional Manager, Southeast USA at PSC Biotech™
When we think of process improvements, it is often easiest to pick the easy quick wins to keep our management happy (e.g. low hanging fruit). However, the real question should be “Why do we have these easy wins?”. The continual improvement process (CIP) is an ongoing effort to improve products or processes. It works best when every employee feels empowered to recommend and implement changes, no matter how small.
Tools such as Kaizen, Toyota Kata, and PDCA (plan, do, check, act), can help your organization implement continual improvements. Small incremental changes can come from the employees themselves and can make them feel engaged with the company processes. Small incremental changes that are continuous over time can be easier to implement and may not require a capital investment.
One example of an incremental change involves environmental monitoring employees spending about an hour each day gowning, degowning, sanitizing supplies and carts to go into clean areas. The employees would prepare a cart with the supplies, push it down to the clean area. In the pass thru, the employees would methodically remove all the supplies from the cart, disinfect the carts, the cartwheels, and supplies. Then, they would push the cart over the demarcation line, gown in, and retrieve the cart on the other side. The employees would repeat this process until they were at the inner core of the cleanroom (4 times) and then would work their way out of the clean area sampling the environment as the progressed.
An employee had a great idea and approached management about a small change. They could save time, effort, and increase efficiency if they had cleanroom dedicated carts. The carts would be a one-time investment and would be labeled and staged for environmental monitoring use only (Plan). The carts were purchased, cleaned, and staged in the clean areas (Do). During the next cycle of environmental monitoring, the employees were timed and monitored. They pushed the loaded carts down to the clean area and began the process of disinfecting and transferring the materials into the clean area with dedicated carts. They gowned in and proceeded as normal. They saved 10 minutes at each transition every day (40 minutes a day) for a week (Check). This added a little over 3 hours of extra time per environmental monitoring employee per week, thus saving the company money and giving the employees more capacity for other projects. This small incremental change was so successful, it was implemented into the routine process (Act).
There are thousands of examples of employees suggesting “obvious” changes that allow them to be more productive and produce a higher quality product. Process improvements can be big or small projects. They require input and buy-in from the CEO to the front desk.
Need help building your roadmap for your continual improvement process? PSC Biotech™ provides custom fit options to help companies with process improvements. Experienced consultants are available to teach you the tools for process improvements so that the concepts of continual improvement can become ingrained in your culture.
PSC Biotech™ has a wide variety of solutions to ensure success for any size company. Some of our offerings include consulting, performing risk assessments, writing standard operating procedures, writing protocols, writing white papers, project management or even executing projects to free up your company’s valuable resources. Whatever your need may be in the life science industry, PSC Biotech™ will be there to help. Give us a call today!