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Continuous improvement practices within a nanosatellite manufacturing capability
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This study investigates the current innovation and development process approaches, with the intention of understanding and elucidating the internal dynamics of continuous quality improvement strategies within the disruptive technological innovation and development set-up of the French South African Institute of Technology (F'SATI) in the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). The research objectives were to look for answers within a innovation and development process approach by investigating the flexibility of the development process, setting up of an improvement targets, monitoring and measuring performance, applicability, and the use of risk-based thinking, lean manufacturing principle applications, and possible means to sustained good working practice for future innovation and development activities. Mixed research methodology was used to obtain meaningful and value-added results. Data was collected through group interviews (n1= 3 groups), a structured questionnaire completed by innovation and development full-time employees (n2 = 10 employees) and thorough review of documented organisational knowledge. Thematic data analysis was used to analyse qualitative data from the interviews, SPSS software was also used to analyse the quantitative data, and Cronbach's Alpha was used to test quantitative dataset reliability. Furthermore, an expert judgment approach was used to validate the results obtained from the research study through presentation of research findings to the innovation and development team. It was evident from the findings that even though continuous improvement approaches and a well-established systems engineering approach was in place, personnel capacity and resource capabilities, adopted organisational policies and procedures, and constant application of internal operational procedures remains a challenge within the F'SATI. The study recommends that the innovation and development centre needs to increase personnel capacity, with respect to required technical and interpersonal skills, more resources that are fit for purpose, to making use of value-adding business relations with external providers through a benchmarking approach, and to be released from dependency on the CPUT procurement system, in order to improve turnaround and delivery times.