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301-975-5020
mfg@nist.gov

100 Bureau Drive, M/S 4800
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-4800

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  Services and Initiatives

Lean and Continuous Improvement

What are Lean and Continuous Improvement?

Lean manufacturing is a continuous improvement model that strives to eliminate non-value-added activities. Continuous improvement is an organizational mindset that focuses on an ongoing effort to improve. There are a number of continuous improvement-type approaches that firms can adopt. Manufacturers that embrace an attitude of continuous improvement can be transformed into agile, more competitive, and more profitable businesses.

What is MEP doing?

MEP centers have a strong record and solid reputation for continuous improvement-related assistance.  Through a wide range of services, MEP helps smaller manufacturers cut costs, improve existing processes, become more innovative and responsive to new opportunities, plan for the future, and attract supply chain partners. MEP’s unique approach is specifically tailored to clients, enabling small and mid-sized manufacturers to easily adopt and implement changes across all aspects of their businesses.

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Lean by the Numbers

Results of MEP clients using Lean Services in 2013-14:

Lean Impacts$724 Million in Increased Sales
lean impacts$2.4 Billion in Retained Sales
lean impacts$692 Million in Investments
lean impacts15,964 Total Jobs created and retained

Continuous Improvement efforts at MEP include:

Lean

Lean establishes a systematic approach to eliminating waste (non-value-added activities) and creating an efficient flow throughout the company. Through lean, companies are able to maximize customer value with fewer resources. Benefits include reduced cycle and lead time, inventory, and work-in-process costs; increased capacity, productivity, profits, and customer and employee satisfaction; and improved safety record. Lean helps companies develop and implement a long-term plan to streamline operations with a focus on growth and innovation. 

MEP centers provide resources, coaching, and training in a number of lean-related areas including value stream mapping, kaizen, 5S system, pull systems, quick changeover, setup reduction, total productive maintenance, lean office and lean certification.

Toyota Kata

The Toyota Kata management and leadership approach builds upon the philosophy of lean. It helps companies to further develop the people skills (thinking and behavior) necessary for continuous improvement, thus transforming a firm’s culture. Kata means pattern, routine, habits or way of doing things. The kata coaches train people within organizations to deal with obstacles systematically and cultivate their ability to develop solutions. Companies that embrace this approach become highly adaptable and innovative. 

Quality-Related Services 

MEP is a leader in providing training and implementation support in quality-related programs, which help companies to continuously improve their processes and products.

ISO Quality Management standards are a proven way to differentiate a company in a crowded marketplace by communicating to supply chain partners a commitment to quality processes and products.  Companies that adopt ISO standards or achieve certification also benefit from reduced cycle time and inventory as well as improved customer satisfaction.

MEP centers also offer other quality-related services such as Lean Leadership, Root Cause Analysis, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management and Training Within Industry.

To learn more about MEP’s lean, Toyota Kata, and Quality related services, contact your local MEP Center or NIST MEP Brian Lagas.

Business Continuity Plan

Continuous improvement extends beyond dealing with current issues. To ensure continued success, companies must also prepare for the future. To this end, MEP centers offer Succession Planning and Business Continuity Plan.

Business Continuity Planning helps companies prepare for unexpected events. Organizations face a broad range of threats today and need to prepare for the impact of natural disasters and widespread serious illness; human-caused hazards such as accidents or acts of terrorism; and technology-related failures. More than 25% of businesses that close down in response to a disaster never open their doors again.

MEP's Business Continuity Planning (BCP) Software Suite can help companies create, improve, or update their business continuity plans. The Suite consists of BCP training, automated BCP and disaster recovery plan (DRP) generators, and a self-directed exercise for testing an implemented BCP. The Suite is scalable and can be optimized for use by organizations of any size. Learn More