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Adopting a Culture of Continuous Improvement

“By coming together to share input, we not only benefit from our collective knowledge but create a stronger culture where everyone feels heard." - Manuel Schmitz, Logistics Manager

ITW’s entrepreneurial culture and core value of shared risk empower team members to drive improvements throughout the organization. This autonomy, which is granted to all employees, fosters innovation and decision-making aimed at maximizing the relevance and impact of the ITW Business Model for specific customers and end markets.

Manuel Schmitz, a Logistics Manager at ITW Reagents’ Darmstadt, Germany, site leveraged this mindset shortly after he was hired in June to help improve processes and open lines of communication in his department.

Schmitz leads a logistics team of 11 employees tasked with managing incoming orders, warehousing and shipping the chemical and hazardous materials the site processes for ITW’s Polymers & Fluids segment.

The inherent risks associated with managing these sensitive materials make communication, collaboration and safety critical.

That’s why in July, Schmitz began implementing daily, 15-minute "Safety, Service and Efficiency" shop floor meetings among his team. These meetings are designed to be quick, engaging and present an open forum for all to share information and updates, overcome challenges and foster greater teamwork.

“I think it is natural, regardless of industry or company, to keep doing things the way they have always been done,” Schmitz said. “I saw an opportunity through these meetings to bring our team members together to benefit from our shared experience, help resolve issues and build rapport among our people.”

In addition to the logistics team, select personnel from other departments are often invited to join meetings to encourage interdepartmental learning and process improvements.

In just five months since being implemented, these meetings have already had a noticeable impact. Based on discussions originated at these meetings, the logistics team has revised the floor markings and pallet parking spaces in the warehouse to increase safety and ease of operations; implemented personal protective equipment guidance to reduce potential for injury; and started a monthly health, safety and environmental training program for team members to encourage ongoing learning.

Beyond helping enhance on-site processes, these meetings have also been instrumental for improving the employee experience at the Darmstadt site by encouraging comradery and a people-first culture.

“We’ve made a lot of improvements in a short amount of time, and small changes add up,” Schmitz said. “By coming together to share input, we not only benefit from our collective knowledge but create a stronger culture where everyone feels heard. This helps keep employees motivated and invested to bring their best selves to work every day.”

Schmitz credits ITW’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to continuous improvement for the early success of the program. He says he is looking to continue the momentum in 2024 by more closely ingraining ITW’s 80/20 Front-to-Back Process throughout his department to realize greater efficiencies and better serve ITW’s customers.

“We are just getting started, but I’m excited to continue building on the meaningful progress we have made,” Schmitz said.

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