It is a known fact: the competitive advantage of companies is based on prerequisites such as technological innovation and digitalisation. However, on reflection, there is an even more fundamental principle that can guide a company to excellence: orientation towards continuous improvement.
The Japanese define this search for perfection composed of concrete, progressive actions with the term “Kaizen”, a combination of kai (change) and zen (better). This very word leads to the core of lean thinking, a management philosophy born in the Japanese automotive sector in the 50’s. It was then exported to the rest of the world and progressively refined as the industry transformed.
Fonderie di Montorso has also chosen to embrace this path of self-development for an increasingly effective market presence.
Lean and foundry: what potential does this combination offer?
“Lean means simplifying processes, reducing waste and optimising steps, all essential elements in any kind of company”, explains the human resources director Davide Magnani. “And looking at the specific context of the foundry, the lean approach offers considerable added value. Today’s challenges in terms of both quality and sustainability require continuous development of technical, strategic and organisational skills, which means foundries must abandon the traditional model in which companies are simply anchored to their experience and know-how. This makes Kaizen an essential tool”.
What does this search for continuous improvement mean in the field?
Of course, mapping, analysis and improvement proposals primarily involve the company’s fundamental process: the one that starts from a customer request and ends with customer satisfaction. In short, the flow of steps from order to dispatch, not forgetting research and development, design and industrialisation of new products.
Could you define “lean thinking” as added value in response to customer needs?
Of course, especially when aiming for a full service. In addition to castings, Fonderie di Montorso also supports its customers in optimising products and processes, and provides them with finished castings, including mechanical machining. We call this “full value chain”.
Lean and Industry 4.0: is there a connection?
Yes. Lean production is intended to improve processes, digitalisation makes a great deal of data and information available. The two aspects integrate and reinforce each other.
Finally, perhaps the most important question. How important are human resources in this management model?
Companies are made up of people. It is essential to involve them in spreading a company culture oriented towards continuous improvement. The primary goal is to grow the organisation by involving resources at all levels and making them aware of their responsibilities. This encourages everyone to contribute and feel appreciated, knowing that they are all experts in the activities they perform daily, that their suggestions should be listened to and that they should be given practical training to enhance their skills. In a vision such as this, people are both a mean and a purpose of change.