PRIME Lean event leads to greater efficiency in Torrington CT

New England Lean Consulting lead 2 Eversource-funded PRIME (Process Reengineering for Increased Manufacturing Efficiency) events at a Torrington manufacturer that drastically improved manufacturing throughput, 5S, process reliability and employee safety.

Problem Statement:  Our client’s value stream consisted of 4 major steps, with the last being a final assembly process. Between 80-120 times per month, orders made it to final assembly either containing defective parts or missing components altogether. Each time this happened, the line had to stop while new parts were made. This lead to excessive amounts of downtime, increased costs, late shipments and a frustrated workforce.

Deliverables:  New England Lean consultants were challenged to “figure this out, once and for all”. No small feat, considering the issue had existed for years (literally), and even the business owners had tried unsuccessfully to fix it!

Data:  Through a systematic application of Lean and Industrial Engineering tools, we were able to identify many factors that contributed to this phenomenon:

  • No 5S standards. No standards on how parts were produced or delivered/presented to downstream internal customer.
  • Lack of training. Associated were not adequately trained on their jobs, nor trained on what KPI’s they were being measured to. Lead to many different methods being put into use. All well intentioned, but misguided.
  • Poor data collection and interpretation. When the formal method wasn’t followed, new processes were added. This lead to duplication of efforts, frustrated associated, and eventual non-reporting of data (people just stopped reporting and did whatever they needed to to produce parts). When QC consolidated the data each month, it was unactionable, and therefore widely ignored.

Outcomes:  Within 5 months, occurrence rates of defective and missing parts fell from an average of ~100 times/month to less than 30.

NELC also redesigned the reporting form, making it easier for front-line associates to use and QC to manage. We also reduced the number of “Reason Codes” from more than 50 to 10, which in turn made the resulting reported data easier to report and to understand. We also rid the organization of the conflicting and overlapping reporting processes, streamlining it to one easy to understand method. This lead to a lot less frustration on the shop floor from folks who were all trying to do the right thing. We even got a hug from one associate!

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