What measures can be taken in the company to encourage employees to engage in continuous improvement?


Innovation is not only about spectacular breakthroughs and great discoveries. Sometimes it is the smallest ideas and improvements that can make a huge difference and give a new direction even for organisations as large as manufacturing companies. An example that proves this perfectly is one of our clients, the company Techmatik, which we have already mentioned before on the occasion of the ongoing 5S certification.

Continuous development and improvement are among the company’s cornerstones. The company’s strategic goal is to be the #1 in the industry globally, the Management Board, together with the Managers, developed a business development strategy that provided the foundation for organisational change. Plant Manager Robert Kaleta played a leading role in this process, defining the mould’s business objectives related to achieving higher revenue levels and increasing sales to different market segments. Keen to achieve these ambitious goals, Techmatik has focused on streamlining processes and involving all employees in continuous improvement. Supported by 4Results, they have initiated new projects concentrating on improving the efficiency of operations. The aim of these projects was to reduce costs, increase production, reduce lead times, eliminate waste and involve the Masters in a continuous improvement process. So as to build future Improvement Leaders
in the company! One of the key aspects of the transformation of the organisation has been the change in the role of the Master. This change of mindset, that “I am not just a recipient”, but as a Master I share responsibility for the direction of the organisation, has been a key factor in taking responsibility at Techmatik.

In pursuit of ambitious business goals, we started with seven workshops with teams responsible for specific market segments or products (we refer to this as a mini CDG, or Change Design Group). Each team developed its own mini strategy for success, analysed and changed (adjusted) the structure, worked out roles within the team, defined changes in flow and established new ways of working, focusing on improvements in different areas of work. The next step for the “mini GPZ” was, among other things, to define key performance improvement projects, which will contribute to improved efficiency and are in line with the company’s previously devised development strategy.

The team has developed so-called improvement sheets (project sheets), which act as a structured approach and method for working on the project. The sheets include a detailed description of the activities, material flow, division of labour and specific tasks to achieve the set goals. Masters, who lead the work with their teams, play a key role in the process of delivering efficiency projects. These teams include Operators, Programmers, Design Engineers, Technologists and tool-shop staff. Masters were prepared on how to lead such teams towards a successful project
and engage them effectively. The role of Masters in these projects is particularly important. They need to demonstrate their ability to define project objectives, identify ways to measure outcomes and show the savings achieved. Through this role, Masters have the opportunity to develop their competences and gain experience in project management. In the mould business, more than a dozen such improvement projects have already been completed by the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023.

Each such sheet contains:

  • project objective
  • start and end date of the project
  • Leader and his/her team
  • description of the current situation
  • description of the tasks that will be undertaken
  • deliverables or indicators through which achievement of the objective will be monitored
  • schedule of regular meetings
  • current project status

In the process of implementing efficiency projects, Techmatik has introduced an additional tool that makes it much easier to monitor the progress and effectiveness of activities. Each project sheet is enriched with a specially prepared charts, which graphically shows the direction the project is heading. These charts are not only an aesthetic addition, but are an essential tool for Masters and project teams. They show the clarity of the project’s objectives, the path to achieve them and, later on, allow the monitoring of the results achieved over time (we know how many projects fail to bring about lasting change upon completion). With this visualisation, the whole team has a clear picture of what is to be achieved and what the key stages of the project are. In addition to the paper form of such sheets, each project is managed virtually, through the Monday.com platform.

In the pursuit of continuous improvement and successful delivery of efficiency projects, Techmatik has relied on regular and systematic project team meetings. Inherent in every project sheet are the weekly team meetings that take place in the Masters’ office. However, Techmatik goes a step further, convinced of the value of experiencing reality directly in the workplace. Therefore, as part of the project team meetings, there are also regular visits to the workplace, i.e. the so-called Gemba. It is in the Gemba, the place where the customer value is produced and products are made, that project teams can see the process, identify any problems or waste and make the necessary changes. However, that is not all. Techmatik considers it crucial to take a strategic approach to managing and monitoring projects and verifying that they support the strategy. For this reason, regular weekly and monthly strategy meetings are also held in a specially prepared strategy room – Obeya (Japanese “Big Room”).

Obeya is where the Management Board, the Executives meet with the Project Team Leaders. These regular sessions provide a space where Masters share results and experiences from current projects, actively working with teams to achieve their goals. During these meetings, Leaders present progress and deliverables, sharing information on completed tasks and those that are in progress or require support from the organisation. This is a unique opportunity to share knowledge, insights and ideas on how to perform the next stages of a project in a more effective manner. It is important that any valuable insights and new ideas are immediately recorded on a project sheet to have at hand for further work. In Obeya, Masters also present the results of completed projects in short summary meetings called close-ups. This is an extremely important event, attended by representatives from all areas of the company, including the Management Board. During this meeting, Masters analyse with the team the results achieved, the tools used and their adaptability to other areas of the organisation. The demonstration of proven savings is a particularly important point. During the presentation, Masters share not only the results of the project, but also reflections on their own development and their team. Mention is made of the competences improved, the skills gained and the difficulties encountered. This enables each presenter to develop and be a more competent Master.

One of the key competences of the Masters was precisely to conduct such meetings. This required them to develop specific skills that had not previously been so important in their work. Masters additionally learnt how to observe the process, analyse data, coordinate project activities, monitor progress and make quick decisions, which they assumed responsibility for. This was particularly important because the project teams were entering areas that the Masters had no direct influence on in their day-to-day work.

Therefore, the proper organisation of time, work and division of tasks was crucial to the success of the efficiency projects. The Masters have had to redefine their role and responsibility, realising that it is mainly up to them to ensure that the project achieves its objectives. This required their commitment, self-discipline and ability to manage a team of diverse professionals. However, by acquiring new competences, Masters have become key Leaders, able to successfully manage a project and bring about positive change in the company. Changing the Master’s role was not easy, but the results have been excellent. Through commitment and the development of new skills, Champions have successfully led project teams and the efficiency projects implemented have resulted in tangible benefits for the entire organisation. Techmatik has proven that investing in the development of its Masters yields real results and reinforces the implementation of the company’s strategy.

Below we are very pleased to present three selected projects from the many inspiring ones that took place between 2022 and 2023.


The first pilot project, called “Boards”, was not only an important step for Techmatik in improving its processes, but also an excellent opportunity for the Manager to pass on his knowledge and skills to the Masters. We started by letting the example of model behaviour come from the top. The project was aimed at achieving savings of more than PLN 600 000 a year on the production of the boards. Given its ambitious objectives, the Manager devoted a great deal of attention to planning and organising meetings with the employees who made up the project team. These meetings were crucial in order to identify the main objective of the project, show the expected results and explain the importance for the company of its successful implementation in terms of cost reduction, but also the company’s development strategy.

This project contained four leverage changes in this area:

  • change in the selection of tools and parameters with Programmers
  • cooperation between the Programmer and the Employee to evaluate the work on the tools
  • implementation of minor improvements reported by employees, which hindered them on a daily basis
  • monitoring of times (what needs to be done in order to allocate the time gained to the production of further moulds and increase capacity in this area)

We asked the Manager leading the project how the staff approached the challenge?

In a reasonable manner. I explained to the employees the aim of this project, what it would involve, what we wanted to achieve, how we wanted to do it. I started asking them questions, welcoming their comments, and eventually together we also started implementing their ideas, which built their commitment to the project. I see my participation in the project as highly formative. It has taught me how to work with the whole team and how to engage employees by talking to them and making the situation clear as to why we are doing it.

Zbigniew Gołąbek – Head of Low Mould Production

Ultimately, the project has achieved its target – namely more than PLN 600 000 in savings – resulting in a 30% increase in throughput.


Under the leadership of one of the Masters, another project called “Dies” was carried out. Its main objective was to increase production capacity by 80 hours per week, as this was the amount needed to provide the required weekly capacity for die production, and this resulted in an additional benefit of more than PLN 400,000 per year. This project was implemented by taking the following activities:

  • regular observations of the machining process together with the Operators and Programmers, which produced conclusions on what we need to work on, what needs to be changed, but also involved the Operators
    in the change. We discussed our results together and above all measured them
  • monitoring times with Operators
  • many technical solutions; the use of pads on the pressure bars and the use of bolt-on guides
  • creation of programs for the machining of selected types of dies, which freed up the Operators’ time for writing programs

As the Leader of this project observes:

Until now, I commissioned the Operators to do the work and then held them accountable for it. I didn’t ask about their problems during the working day and that was a big mistake. Through the implementation of the project and regular meetings, we discussed and eliminated the problems they reported on an ongoing basis, which allowed us to improve the machining process with new tools and new fixing methods. With a standardised and dedicated programme for die machining, we regained the time in which Operators had to write these programmes themselves. Today, we even have them off the shelf, which means the Operator takes the programme and can work, overseeing the process rather than building it from scratch. The mere fact of working on a project and working with people has ingrained in me the need to talk to employees. I have learnt to treat them with respect instead of looking down on them because I am their superior. I have realised that they don’t come here just to work, but they have a need to make a difference in their workplace and want to have a say in what is happening in our company.

Jakub Cieciora – QRM team Master – FN Standards


A Master in the area of mould assembly has completed another project – “Foot Plates” The aim of this project was to increase efficiency through better use of machinery. The project was expected to result in a 15% increase in foot plates production. To achieve this objective, the team divided the project into specific tasks, such as the use of magnets on 3-axis machines and a change in the method of fixing on the marker. Although the beginnings were difficult, the Project Leader noted that he and his team managed to achieve the desired result.

Every project makes sense as long as everyone involved knows what we are working on and for what purpose it is being done. The project I was involved in produced the results I wanted. What’s more, it allowed us to see things that are not visible at first glance, but have proven to be crucial in ensuring that production runs smoothly. The start was difficult, as usually is the case. But over time people really started to get involved, especially when they knew what the goal was. A good working relationship with the employees on the machines has increased our efficiency
in the number of foot plates made.

Karol Marcula – QRM team Master – FN Assembly


The use of magnets on 3-axis machines has allowed the organisation to save time on changeovers by an average of 1h on 1 set of foot plates, and the change in the method of fixing on the marker has allowed customised sets to be produced, while saving time on machine changeovers.

It is worth mentioning that once projects are closed, further projects are defined, which maintain the continuity of the improvement process, which as we already know very well – never ends and leads to further surprising results.

Techmatik does not limit itself to efficiency projects – it is still driven by one of its main strategic objectives, which is to reduce lead times, because competing on time is a key competitive advantage (the foundation of the QRM-based strategy being implemented). That is why it also regularly organises Flow Kaizens. Recently, one Kaizen has been implemented in the cutting area. The Kaizen team, led by its Leader, focused on reducing the time taken to deliver complete details from cutting to machining. The time from burning out of the details, through picking, to delivery took an average of five days. After a detailed analysis, it became apparent that the underlying problem was the 18 different thicknesses of metal sheets used in one weekly production pack, and thus the large scale of changeovers per week, with an average of as many as 36. The more plate thicknesses, the more picking before the straightening process and the more time the Master has to spend transporting, carrying, searching, taking and picking. And that, after all, is not what the role of the Master is all about! Due to the team’s cooperation, openness and ideas, a solution was found that had the desired effect. The solution was to change the design of the individual components so that more components could be produced from the same thickness. The solution has been tested and implemented. The number of plate thicknesses was reduced from 18 to just 6 in a single pack. What’s more:

  • picking time has been reduced from 5 days to 2.5 days
  • changeover time has been reduced from 9 h to 3.5 h
  • straightening efficiency increased by 20%
  • Masters have regained 10 hours of time per week

Kaizen freely translated means “change for the better”, in our case it allowed us to make a big change and re-engineer our product. I was the Leader of this fuss and am very proud of the results achieved! What enabled me to achieve success? I involved employees from different areas: construction, cutting, machining, welding and, of course, our Manager was with us. The analysis we did was very important because it allowed us to understand the problem. Working with such a large and diverse Team helped to develop a non-obvious solution. There was brainstorming, constructive discussions, joint observations on production, we listened to one another. We were quick to make decisions, unafraid to change
and test. Our solution is implemented, it has become a routine for the designers and all my employees. What has this Kaizen taught me? I am proud to have led the Kaizen, it has taught me to look at problems differently, every problem is an opportunity to improve.

Piotr Janura – QRM Cutting team Manager


What has the organisation achieved through the implementation of the projects?

The involvement of the Masters in the continuous improvement process has proven to be a key element of success in improving the cost of production and, therefore, in pursuing the company’s strategy. By working together to achieve specific goals defined in the project sheets, the Masters have gained confidence and developed important competences, including the ability to calculate savings. The result of this involvement has been a significant improvement in productivity and efficiency across the enterprise. Continuous improvement projects have helped to optimise production processes, eliminating unnecessary waste and delays. As a result, the company has recorded significant savings amounting to hundreds of thousands of zlotys. And this is not yet the end of it, as the planned projects by the end of the year are expected to save close to PLN 3 million. This impressive figure not only confirms the effectiveness of the measures taken, but also motivates the team to further improvement. However, savings are not the only positive effect of the changes made. A good working relationship with the employees on the machines and the Programmers has helped to increase production volumes. The joint efforts and commitment of all team members have resulted in increased work efficiency, which has translated into more units produced in less time. The completed projects are only the beginning of a long path to excellence for the company. Techmatik has proven that investing in employee development and process optimisation can go hand in hand and produce excellent results. The implementation of the Kaizen culture and the focus on collaboration and involvement of the entire team has proven to be a key element of success. As a result, the company is becoming a leader in its industry, gaining recognition from its Customers and achieving ambitious strategic goals.

Most important is the commitment of individuals and teams to efficiency and Kaizen projects. Owing to the fact that our QRM teams are small and have ownership in their area, they monitor their activities and have a direct impact on me. The improvement activities of these teams are focused on achieving business goals. Kaizen is an important element of process improvement in our company. These projects support the achievement of our strategic objectives. An important part of Techmatik’s strategy is the development of our Leaders. Those who carry out improvement activities develop their competences and derive much satisfaction in the process. They are developing not only themselves but also their Teams.

Mariusz Gil – President of Techmatik

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