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Continuous improvement: Manufacturing's ultimate journey.

Continuous Improvement: Manufacturing's Ultimate Journey

"Continuous improvement: the need to improve constantly and forever the system of production and service to improve quality and productivity and thus constantly decrease costs."--Edward Deming

It's the hottest buzzword in manufacturing today. And if students attending the Foundry Educational Foundation's College-Industry Conference held Nov 8-10 in Chicago really heard and understood the message of continuous improvement presented there, it will be the concept that leads U.S. manufacturing and metalcasting to worldwide competitiveness well into the 21st century.

This year's conference, built around the theme of continuous improvement, attracted an audience of 330, including 120 students from FEF-affiliated colleges and universities and key professors from 29 FEF schools. The meeting also featured the presentation of $23,000 in student scholarships.

Not a Destination

The keynote address of the conference was delivered by Robert W. Navarre, chairman and CEO, Simpson Industries. Navarre's message was stated simply: "Continuous improvement is a journey, not a destination. This was not a manufacturing priority in the 1940s, '50s or '60s. Our goal then was to produce. But today continuous improvement is absolutely necessary if we are to compete in a global marketplace where worldwide customers can pick and choose between worldwide producers," Navarre explained.

On an individual company basis, the Simpson CEO said, "An absolute necessity for your company's future is to create the environment for continuous improvement. It must be ingrained in your company's culture from the board of directors to the associates on the factory floor. This commitment calls for a willingness to invest large sums of money for improvement: 1960 machines will not produce 1990 quality. Navarre concluded his comments by placing the onus of continuous improvement squarely on the shoulders of management. "Your company's management structure must lend itself to accepting improvement. The 'not invented here syndrome' cannot be tolerated."

Navarre's talk was followed by a panel of industry speakers who covered various aspects of continuous improvement. Jeff Fowler, technical manager, CMI-South, offered his thoughts on continuous improvement in engineering. "Continuous improvement begins during your collegiate engineering studies by becoming involved in other activities like technical societies and co-op education. Throughout your engineering career," he said, "you must think improvement and continue to get involved."

Continuous improvement in manufacturing was addressed by James C. Cline, coordinator of statistical processes, Globe Metallurgical, Inc. He described his firm's journey toward total quality system which included an innovative employee involvement program which eliminated all foremen and time clocks and vested decision making in hourly employees. Diran Apelian, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, provided his views on continuous improvement through human resources and education. He urged the attending students to become "Ambassadors for technical literacy" throughout their careers.

Thoughts on continuous improvement in your life's work were provided by Michael A. Gwyn, executive vice president, Pelton Casteel. The gist of Gwyn's presentation involved continuous learning. "Don't forsake your technical and analytical skills. Ge more and keep them current through additional schooling and involvement," he said.

Hyperbola of Progress

In highlighting his 50-plus years in the foundry business, Samuel C. Clow, retired, Clow Corp., told the engineering students that he titled his remarks The Hyperbola of Progress "because I sincerely believe that, while the industry has made much progress during the past 50 years, improvements in the future will be continuous and will continue at an ever-increasing pace and I hope that you young people will keep them going even faster."

"Many of those among you who enter the foundry industry upon graduation will be assigned engineering duties," said Clow. "For many of you these technological functions will eventually lead toward managerial responsibilities. These will undoubtedly involve all sorts of human relationships and, in this area, I'm afraid we have not enjoyed continuous improvement. However, there are some reasons to believe that change is in the wind. The team concept is being tried--a philosophy that tends to wipe out the traditional line and staff organization. Perhaps there are those among you who can implement this or other systems which can help make our domestic foundry industry competitive worldwide. It is high time that we learn to work together instead of in constant opposition," Clow concluded.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Foundry Society, Inc.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Foundry Educational Foundation College-Industry Conference
Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Words:701
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