By Gene Russell, President and CEO of Manex

Manufacturing excellence is an ongoing process and understanding its cornerstones is important to achieving success.

Over the years, many plants have solved their control issues. However, problems can still emerge through both external and internal sources, such as outside suppliers or internal team members. For these reasons and others, it is important for company leaders to maintain an aggressive stand against the “status quo” and remain relentless in the quest for continuous improvement. Accountability and high standards are the foundation of any good organization. Have a vision of excellence and express it in a variety of ways every day, including management by wandering around (MBWA) and by example. When leading by example, do not pass the buck and do not run not away from problems. Try to see opportunities that others cannot and develop a meeting and team style that fosters listening to ideas and opportunities from all corners of your organization.

What are manufacturing excellence cornstornes?

Areas that remain important at every high-performing plant include:

  1. Safety, including key OSHA requirements and ergonomics, root cause, and zero lost time accidents.
  2. The 5S method (sort, set, shine, standardize and sustain) and 6S method (which adds safety) – good housekeeping is essential to saving time and doing a great job.
  3. Preventative and predictive maintenance.
  4. Process capability. Can you meet current demand effectively within client time frames and can you scale for greater profit (and should you scale)?
  5. A clear understanding of product quality at all levels at all process steps. Ensure certified quality systems, such as IS0 9001, are in place.
  6. Visual management of key metric at every work position.
  7. A comprehensive training plan including food safety, leadership, lean, kaizen and others.
  8. Operator-led process control (OLPC).
  9. An effective and comprehensive communications plan.
  10. A relentless continuous improvement plan.

Your goal is never to run a mediocre business. If you flip these points on their head, they can appear humorous and obviously bad. But they do happen. Put them in place and look at them every day and ensure that they are not just cornerstones or goals but executed by the hour in your plant.

About the Author

Gene Russell is President and CEO of Manex and has over 30 years of senior executive strategic planning, operational management, and consulting experience in the manufacturing and technology sectors. With his extensive knowledge of manufacturing operations, he has developed and implemented key strategic initiatives for companies, allowing them to improve performance and achieve profitable growth. He can be reached at