Click here to download the article (Pdf)

Continuous Improvement Challenge

Bringing The Local Manufacturing Sector Together To Collaborate On Business Issues

Early in 2020, manufacturers came together for a Continuous Improvement (CI) Workshop organized by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) and the Valley Regional Enterprise Network (Valley REN). The workshop event was held in January at Michelin in Waterville. It was at this event that the Valley REN announced the “Continuous Improvement Challenge”; a challenge to local manufacturers to assist other facilities and businesses in finding solutions for an issue they are working on. The idea for this continuous improvement leadership sharing came from a long-term Michelin team member.

Bringing the local manufacturing sector together to collaborate and address priority business issues is work that the Valley REN has been facilitating since 2018, when they established the Valley Manufacturing Taskforce. Supporting manufacturers in their continuous improvement efforts helps improve products, services, and gain efficiencies in their processes. Continuous improvement identifies strategic needs, establishes baselines for improvement, prioritizes root causes and implements solutions.

The Continuous Improvement Challenge was received with excitement, with many facilities and support organizations coming forward to participate. Four sessions were planned for the year, where cross-functional teams consisting of skilled industry professionals from local facilities and industry support organizations would work onsite with a facility on their challenge. The first event was planned when the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown happened, which put the events on hold. Thanks to the use of technology, a successful hybrid event took place on October 29th and 30th.

Pre-recorded video and live streams from within the facility being supported, informed the cross-functional team of staff from four manufacturers, ACOA and the Valley REN. Over two days, Michelin employees led the team through a process of mapping people/product and data flow on the defined problem and collaborating to bring solutions forward.

The Annapolis Valley region has a robust and diverse manufacturing sector; producing and exporting products that range from food and beverage, biomedical, rubber, and paper (including paper industry supply). “The Valley REN continues to be committed to supporting the Manufacturing Sector. This is an important sector in the Annapolis Valley. This sector not only employs a large number of people, but manufacturers in our region are leading exporters” says Jennifer Tufts, Valley Regional Enterprise Network CEO.

Does your facility have an issue that you would like to work on through continuous improvement leadership sharing? It could be in one of the following areas: limited output due to bottleneck post, need for cost reduction ideas, product flow issue, safety or ergonomic issue, changeover or tooling constraint, or quality issue. If you are interested in receiving support, please contact Richelle Brown Redden at the Valley REN:


“The CI workshop offered an ideal venue for local businesses to work together to create innovative solutions to issues facing our local business. The process used and the energy of the participants was extremely powerful. This is our Valley businesses working together to be more competitive” Bob Gaudet, Site Progress Advisor, Michelin North America (Canada) Inc.

“I felt the event was aligned to our Strategic Framework, especially the Social Responsibility Pillar. We are active in the community, and we appreciate the fact we can collaborate with other business partners in the Valley to share best practices and resources. By doing this we support improvements for numerous businesses in the Valley, making them more sustainable. The Event was well planned and laid out, enjoyed the day and the opportunity to meet new contacts.  It’s a good feeling to help other processers in the Valley.” Troy Lenihan, Director – CI & Operations, Eden Valley Poultry Inc.

“It was a great opportunity to collaborate with the Valley manufacturing community and assist in resolving roadblocks. There was value to be gained by all participants, that can be applied at our own sites. Helping each other in this way will make our companies and communities stronger” Chris Burke, Weaving/ Finishing Manager, Andritz

“This peer-based approach is exactly what ACOA hopes to see happen more often. Companies getting together to learn from each other to improve their operational processes. Continuous improvement is something many companies struggle to find time for, but something we all need to do to remain competitive and grow” Peter Wright, Economic Development Officer, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

“It was very exciting to collaborate with other manufacturers from our valley community. The level of engagement from all the participants was outstanding. I foresee positive results coming from this workshop.” Charles Travis, Member Owner, Production Supervisor, Just Us Coffee Roasters Co-Op.

Valley Regional Enterprise Network Helping You Grow In the Valley