Many manufacturers are trying to increase production speed to make up for supply chain delays, or to become more competitive, yet worry they don’t have additional staff or equipment to reach their goals. These conditions can lead to a stressed staff and higher turnover unless the mindset and tools of Continuous Improvement are applied.
In a series of Fall 2022 info sessions, manufacturing advisor Ted Kennedy shared four tools that can make waste visible, improve production capacity and increase quality. Each of the Lean Manufacturing productivity tools introduced is a favorite, Ted says, because they’ve been proven to get the outcomes desired without adding team members and stress.
We’ve gathered the video recordings of each info session below for an on-demand “Productivity Tools 101” course, along with some notes about the WHAT and WHY of each tool.
These four tools eliminate waste. In Lean Manufacturing there are eight specific categories of waste known by the acronym DOWNTIME: Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-Utilization of Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Extra Processing.
1. Spaghetti Diagrams: Shorten “Travel” Through The Shop, Save Time & Money
Extra steps are great for your Fitbit, not your production process. As National Marker Company’s Brandon Castaneda says, walking hundreds of feet and doubling back “adds up, and time is definitely money.”
Spaghetti Diagrams can make this Motion waste visible, as well as wastes of Transportation and Waiting.
Using a layout of the operation, the Lean champion will observe the movement of information or material through a system/process. A line is drawn every time the part or order is moved. Walking distances are measured along with waiting times.
As the observer documents what they’re seeing, that movement often looks like a pile of spaghetti! The info session video below explains in greater detail.
2. Process Flow Maps: Identify Bottlenecks and Gaps to Eliminate Waste
If a visitor came to your shop floor to watch a process for the first time, it might seem like magic to them. Who did what? How did they know when to do it? How did all those inputs become an output valued by customers?
A Process Flow Map could help that visitor understand the workflow better. It also can identify bottlenecks, gaps or other issues (defects!) because the map visually describes the process.
With the right training, teams can create a Process Flow Map that helps you see what’s wasteful now and helps you design a new-and-improved “future state” workflow. It’s also critical to get the right people involved – a team approach gathers input from those who are part of the process stream.
In this info session on Process Flow Maps, Ted explains why this productivity tool is so effective.
3. Value Stream Mapping: Create a Vision and Plan for Process Improvement
Training and implementation of Value Stream Mapping (VSM) are among the most popular services delivered by Polaris MEP. VSM success stories have included:
- Lost Art Cultured Foods found time and improved quality.
- Downeast Coffee Roasters created a future state map that guided their team to $1,500,000 in direct cost savings.
- Tanury Industries was better able to meet schedules and increased sales by 35%.
But HOW does VSM lead to these positive outcomes? During a December 2022 info session, Ted suggested it’s because it helps Rhode Island manufacturers work on the “big picture.” While a Spaghetti Diagram focuses on the physical movement of information, materials and people, and a Process Flow Map visually describes the work flow, Value Stream Mapping incorporates the process times, inventory and delays.
Ted stresses that you cannot create a VSM from your desk! Your “knowledge” of how things move might not be accurate. Spend time observing orders or products going through the system. During this observation, measure the process times and the inventory queues. Talk to people doing the processes so you understand exactly what they are doing. Does it add value to the customer?
In this info session recording, Ted shares the objectives of Value Stream Maps plus an example in which manufacturing lead time went from 12 days to 5 days, and process time went from 930 minutes to 780 minutes. This is a big improvement!
4. Setup Reduction: Increasing Flexibility, Reducing Lot Sizes, Satisfying Customers
As a marketer, I try to use the language our customers most commonly use when describing solutions. (Good for satisfying Google and making information relatable.) This final session in the Productivity Tool info session series had me chuckling because it turns out there are several terms commonly used for the same thing.
Setup Reduction is also known as SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) and as Quick Changeover.
Though what people call it varies, Ted says the benefits are consistent:
- Increased accuracy – Standardizing changeover processes ensures consistency and quality.
- Decreased costs and increased capacity (without adding headcount) – Quicker changeovers mean less equipment downtime. Team members can be more productive in the same amount of time.
- Reduced lead time – Quicker changeovers let you have greater schedule flexibility because you can change products more frequently.
- Flexible response to customer needs – you’ll produce smaller lot sizes and satisfy your clients.
- Improved on-time delivery – Shorter lead times mean that you don’t have to have excess stock, and your money isn’t tied up in that, and you’re moving more quickly without as many errors … All of this is great for delivery and making customers happy.
Learn more in this info session video recording:
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Ready to get started seeing the ROI of these Lean manufacturing tools at your facility? Click here to schedule a call or meeting with Ted to choose the right combination of tools and training.