Improving Factory Flow In a Low Volume-High Mix through Lean Manufacturing
Client challenge Dissatisfied Customers and Poor Factory Productivity
This made-to-order factory was experiencing poor on-time delivery (<60%) and productivity (<52%). The typical production cycle was three days from start to finish, beginning with the cutting of components and ending with final assembly. However, orders were started (cut) but were set aside leading significant work in process (WIP) factory. Lead Hands and Supervisors were spending time handling WIP to meet customer needs. Often, they would “lose” orders and valuable production was lost looking for partially finished orders. At one point the company had to move these partially completed orders to another building to create space in the plant. The plant was faced with customers complaining about late deliveries, significant quality issues, and poor plant productivity.
After reviewing the current factory production steps, flow, and layout the following changes were made:
- The plant was re-organized to remove bottlenecks/optimize the flow.
- Equipment layout and modified to eliminate health and safety concerns.
- Applied visual management, pull and supermarkets were implemented to create level loading and smoother production flow.
- New production planning and scheduling processes were implemented to respond customer needs on order visibility and manage shop floor complexity.
The plant productivity improved by 28%, on-time deliveries increased by 53%, quality issues reduced by >90% and most importantly loss time injury rates decreased to 0.
Tools used: Pull systems, visual management, value stream mapping, process improvement, Kaizens, fishbone