Last year, I could visit a small Household/ Kitchenware products manufacturing company in northern India, which is engaged in this business for the last 10+ years
The organization wanted to implement Lean Manufacturing. Since the demand has been much good, they want to develop lean systems to enhance customer satisfaction, improve productivity, reduce throughput time, utilize space, and reduction in inventory in order to fulfillment for customer requirements on time & in full quantities.
We went to the shop floor & observed the following:
- Customer demand & order projection is good
- Batch and queue system with managers and supervisor have no time for during the day to do anything but fight fires and expedite.
- The organization is working on a push-based system resulting in high inventory on the shop floor, WIP, BOP, and FG “More of a warehouse than a factory” More than 60% of space is utilized in storage (Raw material, WIP, bought out component, waste e.g. grinding, finished goods.
- Inventory in each process was scattered – in fact, spread out across the shop floor
- There are isolated islands (Departments working to achieve the departmental goals resulting in suboptimization)
- Very high on grinding material. No account of the usage of grinding material.
- Poorly organized workplace - 5S is not in place
- Top Management “time” & energy loss in fire fighting and fixing problems and focus on the big picture is missing
- Long assembly lines with workstations for each process & production in batches.
- Shop floor meetings are not conducted in the designated area
- Visual boards are not on the shop floor to plan and trace the production
- The shop floor is not marked & visual to an extent to differentiate between processes are missing
- SOPs & Work instructions are missing in most of the processes
- Overproduction on injection and blow machines due to high change over time of dies (2/3 hours)
- Frequent breakdown in injection molding machines
In batch and queue production, the object is to meet the schedule. Managers are expected to fashion workaround to get past problems that threaten schedule completion. There is little follow-up because the task is the same the next day. Do whatever it takes to meet the schedule. In the lean world, the focus is on maintaining and improving the process. Follow-up in lean management calls for understanding the causes of yesterday’s problem and then eliminating them.
During our Gemba walk, it was observed people are cooperative & management is open for improvement. People are ready to share their ideas on what can be done better. What we felt could be improved
- Poor employee engagement is causing inefficiency, poor productivity, higher cost, and lower profit. And to improve employee engagement the robustness of the work process user-friendliness of systems, policies and cross-functional team structure is important. Dr. Deming guru of TQM indicated: “85 percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the system and process rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.”
- Visual production planning & monitoring system to be set in identifying bottlenecks and to provide a common platform for developing a communication system
- 5S for workplace excellence to be introduced to reduce floor space & standardization
- Supply chain management by Runner, Repeater & stranger
- Problem-solving & root cause analysis for deviation in the standard
- Designated small workstations to be designed where each person can fully assemble the product & final packing as per customer requirement where most of the wastes can be reduced
- One-piece flow system to reduce batch size in injection and create a continuous flow of parts.
- SOPs to be put in visual form at all work station
- Inventory management
- Kanban system (pull) to reduce WIP inventory.
- Kanban and ROL for items, to create an uninterrupted flow of bought out parts from the suppliers
- Single minute exchange of die (SMED) system to reduce changeover time to take frequent changes in products.
- Total productive maintenance (TPM) to improve machine availability
If you happen to see the above observations in your organization, we hope you will take appropriate corrective & preventive actions. I would love to receive your feedback & suggestions
If you think that there's more that can be done in the current condition. Please write to me at