Today's successful companies are flexible, efficient and responsive to change. They produce only what their customers need, precisely when they need it, with zero defects. They have efficient processes, and a safe working environment for employees who are engaged and committed to results. IMEC's Continuous Improvement solutions prepare manufacturers to implement the daily behaviors that ensure a continuous flow of value to the customer. Our Continuous Improvement services include lean manufacturing, quality improvement, six sigma and safety.

  • Process Design
  • Process and Innovation Management
  • Supply Chain

Ask Yourself:


  • Automation and Digital Manufacturing
  • Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  • Problem Solving Skills Training
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Supplier Research & Scouting
  • Sustainability
  • Total Productive Maintenance

Expanded Solutions:

Enterprise Resource Planning (Information Systems)

The decision to implement a new enterprise-wide manufacturing information system is not an easy one. It may stem from recognizing the shortcomings of the existing system or from proactively looking at future information requirements. Common attributes of an effective software system include:

  • Increased system stability and reliability
  • Reduced scrap and defects tracking
  • Increased Sales/Order Entry efficiency
  • Shop floor or work center data collection
  • Reduced or eliminated human error
  • Quality systems/ISO reporting requirements
  • Reduced or eliminated non-value added steps
  • Bar coding inventory
  • Customer Just in Time (JIT) requirements
  • Increased inventory accuracy
  • Improved management reporting
  • Increased product costing accuracy
  • Automated work order generation
  • Finished product tracking
  • Increased production scheduling efficiency
  • Maintenance scheduling
  • Machine utilization tracking
  • Fleet maintenance and scheduling
  • Standardized work instructions and processes
  • Reduced Work In Process (WIP)
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) requirements

IMEC uses a thorough, unbiased methodology in helping your company to identify, select, and implement an enterprise-wide manufacturing information system. Evaluation and Selection is the first step in IMEC’s Manufacturing Information System Optimization process. Through this process, we work with your company to quantify your manufacturing information needs, evaluate and assess your current processes, and identify available manufacturing software packages that meet or exceed those needs.

Facilities Layout

Whether your company is looking to incorporate new processing equipment, expand facilities, improve flow within your existing facility, or re-locate, IMEC can help you realize the maximum benefit from your efforts. Proper Facilities Layout utilizing and incorporating the latest Lean Manufacturing strategies and techniques will optimally locate equipment, materials, people, and infrastructure to minimize movement, handling and travel distance of the material and labor while increasing overall productivity.


For many projects, the first step of a layout project will be a block diagram proposal to determine if the plan will be feasible. To support this, IMEC uses the Simplified Systematic Layout Planning  process. IMEC engineers will document blocks of space and square footage needed for each. Tools such as product family process analysis and relationship diagrams will be prepared to plot and visualize relationships. Several block diagram options will be created, then analyzed and scored to determine the best block diagram layout.If desired, IMEC can then help with detailed facilities layout planning.


Step 1 - Develop and/or verify a baseline drawing
IMEC and a team of your employees will develop and/or verify a baseline drawing of your existing facility, to include, if applicable:

Production area drawing will show production equipment, personnel, cranes, column locations, transportation aisles, material storage areas, docks, doors, and as needed: locations and routing of primary utilities (electrical, pneumatic, vacuum, coolant, data, etc.), lighting.

Warehouse/Shipping will show racks, columns, aisles, electrical, material handling equipment, computer workstations and, as needed, data collection points, printers, inventory locations and quantities.

Data infrastructure, electrical, personnel locations, solid and partition walls, common equipment (copiers, printers, etc.)

Step 2 - Facilitate employee input meetings
IMEC will facilitate meetings with your company’s management team and targeted floor personnel, to gain input and identify the facilities layout requirements with regards to:

  • Product/process flow
  • Facility/infrastructure
  • Data transfer
  • Equipment
  • Inventory levels and management

Step 3 - Develop, design, and present potential new layouts
IMEC and your team of key employees will work to improve the process flow and efficiency based upon underlying principles of lean manufacturing and process flow efficiency. The team will develop facilities layout options, showing the current operation best arranged within the facility, and offer recommendations to accommodate future growth.


At the conclusion of our integrated teams effort, you will receive a baseline drawing and two to four alternative layout options with all related process flows documented in both electronic and paper form. IMEC’s thorough approach to Facilities Layout will help you realize your objectives of more efficient utilization of people, resources and information leading to increased productivity and decreased costs.

Lean Transformation

Today’s successful companies are flexible, efficient, and responsive to change. They deliver what their customers need, precisely when they need it. They eliminate wasteful, non-value-added production and administrative functions. Working with IMEC’s continuous improvement experts, you’ll be guided on a journey in which efficiency and effectiveness become a part of your every day operating culture. You’ll see how simple changes can generate increased profits and increase employee satisfaction.


Phase 1: Deployment Planning
Appropriate planning ensures that employees are able to effectively implement the improvements without disrupting ongoing work activities. It starts by clearly identifying the objectives you want to reach and developing a road map to achieve them. We lay out a timeline in which implementation  rapid enough so that employees see it working and generating measurable results.

Phase 2: Preparing Internal Champions and Culture
We work with designated lean champions to make the lean journey visible throughout the company. The Champions are typically process/value-stream managers who will become internal facilitators and actively lead Lean projects. They are equipped with “tools” for decision-making, communication, and tracking Lean deployment progress and results.

Phase 3: Workforce Preparation
The hallmark of IMEC’s approach is a Train-to-Sustain model – an overview preparation on the key Lean methodologies. Our simulations and hands-on exercises drive home the power of Lean to a cross-section of employees from different levels of responsibility/authority and operating units within the facility. Soon, the champions will be ready to take over facilitation without the need for continued Lean implementer support or mentoring.

Phase 4: Execution
Working side-by-side with the champions, we utilize value stream mapping as the foundation for Lean execution. We use this tool to assess the current state of your operations, identify the bottlenecks and constraints and pinpoint those specific processes that will be tackled as part of the Lean implementation activities. We facilitate rapid improvement “Kaizen” events to make changes to a work area or product line, or administrative process.

Phase 5: Evaluation and Coaching
We track your progress and help you make adjustments to the program in order to ensure that your objective is met. We meet with your champion once a week for check-up and to provide support and consultation where you need us. Our goal is to stay with you until your objective is met.

Lean Tools

  • Lean Simulation
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • 5S/Workplace Organization
  • Quick Changeover
  • Cellular/Flow Manufacturing
  • Pull/Kanban Systems
  • Total Productive Maintenance
  • Kaizen Event Facilitation
  • Lean Sigma
  • Change Management
  • Administrative Value Stream Mapping

Other Cost Containment and Waste Reduction Strategies

  • Facilities Layout
  • Original Equipment Effectiveness

Typical Results from IMEC’s Lean Projects

  • Work in Process reduction up to 90%
  • Space utilization reduction up to 70%
  • Lead time reduction up to 95%
  • Productivity improvement 10-40%
  • Quality improvement 25-75%
  • Enhanced teamwork, communication
  • Multiple other benefits related to improved product flow
QMS Implementation

The key to long-term competitiveness in today’s global marketplace includes products of optimum quality, at competitive prices, delivered in record time. Today, the ability to meet rigid quality standards is an expectation rather than a competitive advantage. A company must have, to survive and prosper, an in-depth Quality Management System; one that will meet and exceed the demands of customers. International Standards such as ISO 9001, AS 9100 and ISO/TS 16949 provide requirements to which a Quality Management System can be developed and maintained. These standards help guide companies to increasingly higher levels of quality through continual process improvement.


To assist companies, IMEC works on-site to instruct and guide all implementation activities to ensure a full understanding of the requirements, and to maximize the benefits of the Quality Management System. Additionally, IMEC serves as a catalyst to lead its clients through a full QMS implementation.

Working with a company’s staff, IMEC provides implementation training and assistance through:
  • Management awareness/employee overview for the requirements of the International Standard
  • Quality Manual and Procedures review and development
  • Distribution of document templates as needed
  • Process identification and mapping
  • Quality planning and quality policy/objectives
  • Management review
  • Development of job descriptions/training schedules/training effectiveness analysis
  • Product realization - including determination of customer requirements, supplier evaluation, and development
  • Measurement and analysis of process activity
  • Customer satisfaction/analysis
  • Management of nonconforming product
  • Continual improvement, corrective & preventive action
  • Internal auditor training
  • Integration of APQP, FMEA, MSA, SPC, as customer-required (may not be applicable for ISO 9001 and AS 9100)

IMEC can assist with the development of required documentation and provide guidance on implementing the documented policies and procedures. The completion of assignments, development and implementation of plans and procedures, as well as overall accountability for the completion and implementation of identified activities, resides with the company. It is important that the company dedicate at least one individual to focus on implementation of QMS activities.

Potential Benefits

IMEC’s assistance in implementing a sound Quality Management System include:

  • An understanding of ISO 9001, AS 9100, ISO/TS 16949 requirements for management & employees
  • The tools and knowledge to maintain and continuously improve their QMS
  • Trained internal auditors to monitor/report on the effectiveness of their QMS
  • Readiness for the initial Certification Audit
  • The ability to respond to the registrar’s certification audit findings
Safety Programs and Training

Employee well-being, regulatory requirements, industry expectations and medical expenses are challenging for many organizations. IMEC manufacturing specialists work with employers to develop customized approaches to meeting and exceeding the demands of managing safety and health programs.

IMEC manufacturing specialists have worked with various companies throughout Illinois and offer a broad range of practical and industry experience. They are OSHA Authorized Outreach Training Providers. While IMEC has no affiliation with OSHA, its specialists are trained to recognize problems, understand regulatory requirements and are prepared to bring companies to compliance before fines or accidents can occur.


IMEC works with manufacturers to develop a comprehensive approach to safety and health programs that can include very specific services, such as an in-depth assessment, safety committee coordination, employee manual creation or training activity. Safety and health management is a continuous effort and requires regular assessment, training and management activities.

As part of a comprehensive plan, IMEC visits monthly or quarterly on site to provide the expertise and required manpower to keep the safety and health program updated. Typical quarterly visits consist of assessment of shop activities, employee refresher and specialized training, as well as management planning. All activities are documented for future reference in the event of insurance audits or regulatory inspections.

Specific Safety and Health Related Services and Training
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Electrical
  • Emergency Action Plans
  • Ergonomics
  • Food Safety & Security
  • Flammable & Combustible Liquids
  • Hazard Communication
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Incident Investigation
  • Lockout/Tagout
  • Machine Guarding
  • OSHA 10-hour and 30-hour Training for General Industry and Construction
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Powered Industrial Trucks
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Walking and Working Surfaces
Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a methodology that utilizes a formal process and a variety of tools, including statistical analysis, to help companies reduce their costs and improve profitability. It is a customer-focused strategy that applies a set of proven tools and methods to help Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC) processes within the company.Six Sigma Champions lead change throughout the organization. For successful Six Sigma implementation, senior plant/company leadership and other key personnel must participate in Champion training. Champions do not typically lead Six Sigma projects, but must fully support the process for the company to realize their full potential for success. Potential Champions include those people who own the processes to be improved, make resources available, evaluate financial cost justifications, and/or supervise the individuals selected as Black Belts and Green Belts.

Supply Chain Optimization

Supply Chain Optimization begins with a comprehensive understanding of an organization’s performance objectives and aligning its supply chain performance to meet those objectives. As the organization achieves this alignment, its supply chain partners are integrated into this strategy which affords all parties the opportunity to reduce risk, understand and control costs as well as create collaborative partnerships across all tiers of the supply chain.

Technology Scouting

Using the process developed by the Research Triangle Institute International (RTI), IMEC will search outside traditional channels to find solutions for unmet technology needs.


Step 1 - IMEC will work with small and mid-sized manufacturers to evaluate each situation and determine whether enhanced technology is a potential fit.

Step 2 - We search for technology options using cross-market, cross-discipline visibility and known network resources such as Universities, Federal Research Labs, or corporate developers.

Step 3 - We identify emerging technologies using nontraditional investigative techniques. We look at aligned industry sectors, case examples of technology used in vertical industries, and determine whether a technology can be re-purposed to match the client’s situation.

Step 4 - We thoroughly evaluate the technologies to ensure they address the problem/need stated by the client.


  • Gain unexpected solutions from diverse technical fields that meet specific technology needs
  • Develop joint venture partnerships to accelerate time to market
  • Develop technology and process improvement partners
  • Reveal new opportunities for products/process improvements
Value Stream Mapping

Lean is defined as, “A systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste (non-value-added activities) through continuous improvement by flowing the product at the pull of the customer in pursuit of perfection.” In business process or administrative environments, the product is usually information or information based, such as closing books at month end, a purchase order, a help desk call, a customer order, an employee request, a new product design or something similar.

Most business processes and value streams are informal processes that have “grown up” over time. These processes and value streams are often spread over several functional areas with a great deal of waste built into them inadvertently as changes have been made. This causes administrative value streams to fail to meet customers’ expectations in terms of response time and accuracy. It also causes administrative value streams to require excessive resources (people and time), which increases the cost of doing business. Eliminating waste in key business processes by applying administrative value stream mapping will provide benefits to organizations and their internal and external customers by reducing lead time, improving quality and reducing cost.


  • Enables a company to identify waste in manufacturing and administrative processes and develop a plan to reduce or eliminate it, by streamlining work processes and cutting lead times.
  • Maps the current state from customer back to raw material including all steps, both value-added and non- value-added.
  • Helps visualize more than just the single process level – “See the Flow”
  • Provides a blueprint for Lean Transformation – the Future State Map