Spectrum Thermal Processing Heats Up Employee Engagement with Lean 5S

“In one case, employees identified a way to reduce load to load turnaround time from one hour to five minutes, allowing the furnace to process one extra load in the two shift operation and creating a 25% increase in capacity.”

Steve Egan, General Manager

Solution

Use 5S principles of Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain as communication vehicle to improve operations and instill a “passion of ownership” throughout the business.

Spectrum Thermal Processing brought in Polaris MEP project managers to work at all levels in the organization to develop a more uniform materials handling system, minimize time between steps in the process and reduce damage from mishandling parts. Following the 5S principals, teams began using charts posted at each furnace to increase “value-add” time.

“In one case”, said Steve Egan, General Manager at Spectrum, “employees identified a way to reduce load to load turnaround time from one hour to five minutes, allowing the furnace to process one extra load in the two shift operation and creating a 25% increase in capacity”.

Polaris MEP staff also assisted teams with producing “spaghetti diagrams” showing parts “travel” through the shop, which highlighted the opportunity to move the lab and shipping areas together, eliminate steps, and open up space for much needed additional shelving.

Impacts

  • Tempering process: eliminated maintenance, calibration and electrical costs of two furnaces, saving $4,000 per month. This was achieved by concentrating the production of five furnaces into three. Eliminating these two furnaces also created space on the shop floor for other operations and for shelving to hold original packaging materials until completed orders could be repackaged for delivery.

  • Consistently reduced unscheduled furnace downtime to less than 1% of total shop hours by scheduling maintenance more often.

  • Increased by 14% the lbs per shop-hour and increased by 12% the order per shop-hour in last 12 months. This has improved delivery from receipt of customer items for treatment to shipping back to customer/billing.

  • Increased capacity of one furnace by 25% by reducing load to load turnaround.

  • Employees often surface operational efficiency ideas as business grows.