When focusing on continuous development, each improvement suggestion has an impact on the entity. Continuous improvement is one way to get a grip on even the smallest things that could be done better. When each employee observes working conditions and working methods, a comprehensive set of improvement ideas is gathered throughout the organization. Employees are the greatest resource to innovate and raise ideas.
Continuous improvement (CI) suggestions are small, single ideas how to do things better. They aim to develop and improve processes, procedures, quality or work safety. Even the smallest ideas can improve efficiency and work satisfaction.
Officially, HUB logistics has used continuous improvement since ISO9001-sertificate was admitted, which is over ten years ago. In reality, continuous improvement has even longer history as quality has always been the starting point in HUB’s company culture.
Towards higher service quality – one CI-suggestion at the time
Committed staff is the key for continuous improvement system to succeed. Many companies are willing to uphold this system, but staff is not enthusiastic to participate. Why so? There are several factors why staff might be reluctant: employees do not know how to give ideas, CI-process is too difficult, there is no adequate system to collect ideas or employees do not have access to the system. Why bother if no-one goes through the ideas and there is no real development based on CI?
- no-one goes through proposed improvements and there is no real development based on CI
- company management is not committed to CI
- employees are not encouraged to give ideas
Company management has a major role to make CI work. With their own example company management show that they are committed to development and CI gets the value it deserves.
Another success factor is encouraging and rewarding employees. Companies can arrange inner campaigns to support this system. Interesting campaigns that focus on current topics, such as work safety or sustainability, inspire for new ideas.
Continuous improvement can be attached to company’s annual targets and incentives. Clear KPI’s set up for continuous improvement highlights the importance and states that each suggestion matters.
What matters even more than benefit in cash, is the real development work and genuineness of the system. Well organized continuous improvement boosts development and employees see that the system works, which causes a positive cycle and brings even more development ideas. Employees are more committed to a process which brings results. They are willing to participate when they see that they truly can affect their work, work environment and the total quality. Continuous improvement becomes part of company culture and forms a solid ground for development work.
What are the benefits of continuous improvement? Many things have been listed already, but it could be summarized that CI bring efficiency to processes and turns poor procedures better. Good practices can (and should) be copied from one unit to another and this way development work spreads widely inside the company.
Continuous imporvement at HUB logistics
The basis of HUB logistics functions has always been excellent service quality. Customer experience and producing high quality service form a solid ground to our company culture. We want to keep learning about safety, sustainability and quality – and develop all these elements. Continuous improvement and initiatives play a big role as development is one of our strategic focus areas.
QHSE-manager Sampo Arppola looks after our continuous improvement process and takes part in HUB’s initiative committee. He tells that most good ideas are brought up by our skilled workers, who work in production. All development ideas are gathered together and continuous improvement is reported regularly and communicated throughout the company.
Continuous improvement needs to be a low-key process: workers need to be familiar with the concept, all workers are able to give ideas and giving ideas is planned to be easy and straightforward. In 2021 we launched a new reporting system in which all CI-ideas, initiatives and other notifications can be registered in a mobile version. Our staff is now able to sign up and register an improvement idea where-ever during the workday. QR-codes, which are placed in our production and warehouse-premises, make it even faster to sign in and enter an idea.
Investing on the modern system pays off, since in short term the number of ideas has risen significantly. Number of registered CI-ideas and other notifications have increased 84,5%.
Last year there were approximately 1 600 improvement ideas entered in our system. This means that during each workday, six continuous improvement ideas were listed! Over the years, our staff has made over 10 000 development ideas. Each idea takes us forward and helps us to produce even better logistics services.
We activate our staff regularly with CI-campaigns. Last year we held two campaigns and results were good. With our latter campaign, number of ideas was 25 per cent higher compared to previous months.
Initiatives aim to changes in processes, procedures and systems
Yearly, a small number of continuous improvement ideas move forward to be initiatives, which are bigger suggestions concerning processes, procedures and systems. Initiative committee goes through them regularly and initiatives that are taken into use, are rewarded.
Number of initiatives is smaller than continuous improvement ideas, but they have a great value. One initiative from last year has stayed in Arppola’s mind. That was an initiative to use waste cardboard as packaging pad.
– Initiative to give up an old cardboard press and purchase a new machine to produce packaging pad, reduced the number of packaging paper rolls required in packaging and it brough savings when leasing costs were no longer existed. This particular initiative also had a great impact on sustainability: waste is recycled and reused more efficiently, Arppola summarizes environmental and economic benefits of this rewarded initiative.