“Polaris MEP has provided us with a road map of how we can continue to improve everyday and we realize that it is a race without a finish line”.
Jacky Beshar, Vice President
Executives at Precision had an idea and decided that the best way to compete against China for jobs was to provide shorter lead times for customers. “If we could complete orders in less than four weeks we could better compete with China,” said Beshar.
Precision put in a new computer system to better understand costs and inventory and to have better control of managing the company. “The information taught us we needed a formal program to reduce set up times and lead times to make 10,000 pieces at a time instead of a quarter of a million and to do it in four weeks,” said Beshar.
That is when Polaris MEP came in. Polaris MEP started a Lean manufacturing process, funded in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.
Polaris MEP encouraged Precision to start by implementing a 5S system. The system includes sorting, setting in order, shining, standardizing, and sustaining. “In other words, throw out what you do not need, make one place for everything, shine it up and fix the problems, standardize how everything is supposed to work and sustain the new system by auditing so that everything remains neat and organized,” said Beshar.
“We don’t sell tools, we build systems,” said Don Nester, Project Manager at Polaris MEP and consultant to Precision. Precision implemented the plan in the Cleaning Department where the 5S Team looked at reducing non value-added waste. Rather than clean each component at each stage of process, operators would do a light cleaning in order to move the process along more efficiently.
Precision also implemented a Lean Manufacturing Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) reduction system, a theory and technique for performing setup operations in less time. One of the key ingredients of the success of Lean Manufacturing is having strong commitment from top management. Top management in Precision’s case is five people and two of the company’s top managers sit on a seven-member steering committee with a Polaris MEP consultant. Each member of the steering committee is a liaison to one of the four core teams.
Productivity has increased and they have seen a 20% increase in profitability in the department where this was implemented.
Based on its SMED technique, machines that once took upwards of 16 hours to set up to go from one job to the next now take two hours or less to set up.
After implementing its 5S initiative, Precision dramatically decreased the wasted movement of a segment of the products it ships, decreasing lead time.