Manufacturing organizations have been bombarded with initiatives that promise continuous improvement and yet after twenty plus years of initiative after initiative, the reality has at best been incremental improvements.
It seems when problems appear the path to solution is to replace parts and get the equipment back into production. Others may take some time to use the '5 why' or 'fish bone' problem solving process to obtain a solution. Either way, it is tagged as continuous improvement and has really not delivered the kinds of improvements that make a difference on the bottom line. In many cases, the problems are not even solved because they reappear at at later date.
Incremental improvements are more or less feel good measures that say to management “see, there was a problem and we did this to solve it. We have complied and improved the process.” In reality, most continuous improvements have come from technology advancements and not from employee performance advancements.