Realizing sustainable process improvement through an understanding of machine-material interaction: part 2-an industrial case study

Ben Hicks, Jason Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In striving to become world-class, manufacturing organizations employ an array of tools and methods to support improvement programmes to increase quality, efficiency, flexibility, and ultimately reduce unit cost and increase capability. However, many of these programmes are destined to fail at the outset, either in part or in full, due to a lack of holistic and fundamental understanding of the production system, its constituent processes, raw materials, and the product. In addition to this deficiency in understanding, there is further frustration caused by a lack of tools and methods that support the generation of such understanding. To address this critical gap, a methodology has been created to support the practitioner in investigating a processing system and what are referred to as machine-material interactions (MMIs). These interactions ultimately relate to the function of the processing system, and it is the complete and fundamental understanding of these interactions that is necessary to successfully apply improvement tools and approaches to deliver targeted and sustainable benefits. This article is the second of two parts which together present the development of the MMI methodology, its practical application to a complex industrial case and its relationship to the range of manufacturing improvement tools and methods available, such as total quality management, reliability-centred maintenance, Lean, and Six Sigma. This article presents a practical application of the methodology and describes the various stages of auditing, investigating, and improving MMIs in detail. In addition to presenting the targeted improvements realized in an industrial case study the wider benefits of the methodology and relationship to common improvement programmes are discussed. This article also considers the barriers and challenges for successful application of the MMI methodology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-49
Number of pages21
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part E: Journal of Process Mechanical Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • lessons learned, setup, tooling design, material properties, packaging systems


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