APS Plastics & Manufacturing Blog

Innovation on The Job Floor

In today’s manufacturing world, it’s important that we not only embrace industry 4.0 and manufacturing 4.0, but that we also put a heavy focus on worker 4.0: to create the industrial worker for the new manufacturing revolution… bringing the human to the center of the creative process.

APS is building a culture of innovation at the shop floor through the work of our leaders and machinists. We are empowering the team to always experiment and try new methods to design their work to make more sense, create better efficiency, produce higher quality products, and cut down on time.  By green lighting the shop floor to make changes, it allows the team to innovate, share their findings, stay engaged, and feel appreciated.


The collection of data is done by using simple forms to document both:

  • Test results that create job time-savings
  • All new experimental approaches to projects

So much collective knowledge lives in everyone’s minds and it is important to record and document as much as possible, to create a sharing culture. We have implemented daily team huddles and submission of innovation forms to encourage engagement. The long-term goal is: this effort of sharing and experimenting becomes a habit, because a culture built on doing experiments becomes an innovative culture.

Here is an example of using a data approach to look for opportunities to make improvements:

The team completed a series of measurements on the original way of making these parts in order to come up with improvement targets. See the table to review some excellent time improvements.

improvements made to specific parts


Collection of data is a way for us to understand changes to make, to get parts out to our customers faster. In fact, some of the data collected revealed that for Q1 2018, about 33% of our overall run time is spent on set ups. This led us to shift our focus on cutting down on set up times, since money is only made when we are actually running the part. We are proud of the APS team for vastly improving run times on many projects (up to 61.6% time-savings) without compromising quality – even improving quality in many cases.

insights revealed through data collection-1 


All of this is part of our drive to increase productivity* of our shop by 10x through leveraging technology. In fact, APS has already created about a 1.5x increase in productivity. Data (i.e. digitization) is the first step. Investing in technology for our people to use is the core of what we are doing. We will continue with these efforts and continue putting our people in the center of the creative process. The mindset to make wonderful things already exists within the team and we will always provide an environment that allows them the freedom to make.


*Productivity is defined by profit per man hour.

Topics: Precision Machining Solutions technology manufacturing 4.0 Industry 4.0 advanced manufacturing manufacturing innovation time savings