Custom Problem Solving Process Development and Implementation

Project Summary

Our Client:

US-based manufacturer of industrial machine components

The Project:

The client produces precision machine components for a worldwide customer base in a highly competitive industry. Senior management was unhappy with their ability to solve manufacturing quality and safety related problems and respond to customer complaints in a world class manner. Over the years, they had experimented with a number of formal and informal problem solving processes and were disappointed with the results.

APS’ Mission:

Work with key company personnel to select a standardized problem solving methodology that would be implemented company wide. Train all company employees on the principles and application of the problem solving process.

The Challenges:

Because of some unique characteristics of their organization, the client felt that none of the most commonly used problem solving methodologies were a perfect fit for their company. In addition, they wanted one single universal process that could be used for addressing customer complaint and nonconformance issues and also be used for continuous improvement efforts.

APS’ Approach:

APS formed a project team of experienced industrial problem solving and training specialists.  APS worked with the client to assemble a cross-functional team consisting of key personnel from various departments. Working closely with the team, we designed a customized proprietary problem solving process, taking the best elements from popular industry-standard processes, while leaving out the elements that did not fit with their unique requirements.

The result was a customized, team-oriented problem solving process that they could call their own. Once we had designed the process, APS developed documentation for the process that included problem solving forms, worksheets, and comprehensive training materials.

APS provided instructors to conduct the training on-site at the client’s facilities. The training was conducted across all shifts in two phases:

  • Key personnel who would be designated as problem solving team leaders were given 24-hours of training that included both theoretical and practical applications (case studies).

  • All other company employees were given a minimum of three hours of training on the problem solving process including an overview of how the process works and expected outcomes of each process step. This training included everyone from entry-level hourly employees to top level corporate management.

The Results:

The net result was an organization that has the ability to assemble effective cross functional problem solving teams on a moment’s notice, selecting team members from anyone in the organization. By providing training to all employees, we established a common problem solving language that is now institutionalized as part of their corporate culture.  

Once the problem solving process was implemented, the client was able to show distinct measurable improvement in all of the initially stated problem areas and apply the process to new areas as well.

A few years later, we are proud to say that this company remains a successful and viable US-based manufacturing business in a volatile and competitive market that has seen many similar companies fold under the pressure of global competition.

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