The relationships between shop floor management and continuous improvement: a canonical correlation approach

Ma, Jie, Lin, Zhibin and Lau, Chi Keung (2016) The relationships between shop floor management and continuous improvement: a canonical correlation approach. In: 23rd International Annual EurOMA Conference, 17-22 June 2016, Trondheim, Norway.

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Theoretical background
In order to constantly meet the new production goals and sharpen competitive advantage, focusing on improvement continuously is becoming more important. Achieving continuous improvement through small increments is a ‘world class’ practice (Schonberger, 2010). Perhaps the Japanese Kaizen is one of the best known improvement methods to offer a cumulative character (Marin-Garcia et al., 2008), provide on-going improvement and sustained incremental innovation (Bessant and Francis, 1999).

Managerial problem
The importance of Kaizen is exemplified by many existing studies and its implementation steps have been well studied (Ma et al., 2010). Although it appears simple on the surface to implement and as a tool for any organisation, Kaizen has been proved to be easier said than done, and difficult to sustain it in the long-term (Marin-Garcia et al., 2008). Prior studies have suggested that the successful implementaion of Kaizen needs to be supported by shop floor management (Handyside, 1997) and relay on a practice that can constantly bring issues up (Medinilla, 2014).

The shop floor management contains many tools to support improvement (Figure 1). There are four building blocks: 5S practice (sorting, streamlining, systematic cleaning, standardisation and sustaining), waste removal, standard operations, and visual management. Quality Control Circle programmes (QCCs) is an effective practice to collect improvement and implement improvement ideas (Ma et al., 2010).

Figure 1 the building block shop floor management tools (Bateman and Brander, 2000, p242)

Research objectives
(a) to define the roles of shop floor management and QCCs in Kaizen
(b) to provide evidence of the linkage between the 4 building block shop floor management tools and QCCs
(c) to provide evidence of the relationship between QCCs and long-term Kaizen (Figure 2)

A survey is used in this study. In total, 371 valid samples are collected. The questionnaire is developed based on previous research to measure the implementation of the shop floor management tools (Soriano-Meier, 2002, Rahman, 2001, Terziovski and Sohal, 2000), the QCCs (Lillrank and Kano, 1989) and the improvement outcomes (Doolen et al., 2008, Farris et al., 2009).

The study conducted canonical correlation analyses (CCA) to investigate and illustrates the relationships (Figure 3 and 4). CCA is a technique to test the significance of the correlations between one set of multiple dependent variables and a second set of multiple independent variables. It can also determine which variables are the most important (canonical loading > 0.30) in a given pair of canonical variates.

The Table 1 shows that the canonical correlation between the 4 shop floor management tools and QCCs implementing measures was statistically significant. The results also indicated that the 5S Practice and Standard Operations were significantly and positively correlated with QCC Meeting and QCC Presentation. These may appear to disagree with some of the previous studies (Bateman and Brander, 2000), as not all of the four building block tools support the QCCs implementation.

The Table 2 shows that there are two significant canonical correlations between the QCCs implementing measures and improvement outcomes. For the first canonical pair, QCC Meeting and QCC Presentation were significantly and positively correlated with Shop Floor Performance and Improvement Knowledge. Where for the second canonical pair, QCC Meeting and QCC Presentation were also significantly and positively correlated with Shop Floor Performance but negatively correlated with Improvement Knowledge. These findings are in line with some previous studies in showing that QCCs could involve short-term holistic shop floor changes and enhance improvement participants’ problem-solving capabilities (Liker and Hoseus, 2008, Rapp and Eklund, 2002), but necessarily affect their senses of future improvement participations (Marin-Garcia et al., 2008).

This study has three theoretical contributions: a) developing generic models for examining the relationships between shop floor management and Kaizen; b) providing evidence to determine the significance/goodness of fit of the models; and c) indicating that shop floor management implementation could provide a framework to maintain shop floor orders and discipline, hence, lead to the continuous improvement. Practical implications are also threefold: a) the shop floor management tools should be implemented regularly not only to eliminate waste and reduce variations in the standard operations, but also to initiate long-term improvement; b) it is feasible to apply QCCs to collect improvement ideas/ information to support Kaizen; however, c) more efforts may be needed to motivate employees to participate in future improvement activities.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: N100 Business studies
N200 Management studies
T100 Chinese studies
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School > Business and Management
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Jie Ma
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2017 16:03
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2017 16:03

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