Case Studies

Production Improvement

A white-goods manufacturer was seeking to improve their performance and production in their press plant to meet increased demand without major capital investment. The plant had long lead-times, poor quality, high inventory levels and no production system, which lead to production disruption in other plants. They recognised the need for change and consistent performance but lacked the skills and improvement capabilities to build and deliver a sustainable improvement.

The first steps taken were to evaluate the current and past production approaches utilised and understand the reasons for production failures. This was followed by setting the improvement team and planning the new production system to address the issues and gaps. Consequently, a two-fold action plan that involved educating and doing, was designed and implemented.  This involved firstly developing the necessary knowledge and skills through educating the team.  Secondly, the necessary infrastructure for sustainable improvement was initiated, with a pilot for a family product.

The pilot was proven a success as it demonstrated the power of the new production systems and the new skills the staff had gained. The pilot also showed improvement in the plants key performance indicators (KPI’s). This generated the buy-in and motivation that was essential for the rollout through the whole plant.

The implementation process was facilitated by a consultant/trainer supporting the plant staff.  New ideas and best practices were captured and there was emphasis on cascading the knowledge. The implementation included adoption of the 5S, visualisation and product flow.

Over a period of 9 months batch sizes dropped from 3000-5000 parts in one container and a lead-time of 15–17 days to 1000–2000 parts in containers of 100 and a lead-time 5–7 days. The project resulted in quality rising to 95% and production by 30%.

Project facilitation

A food manufacturer was in a growth period and was aiming to increases their outlets by 50%. The plant was required to increase their production to meet this new demand with several constraints that it faced. The company had limited space as previous growth projects had consumed all available space.

An initial analysis was conducted to identify several projects that can be implemented to support the plant’s production capacity to meet the anticipated increase in demand. Based on the management team’s decision on the projects to be launched, two teams were created for the tasks at hand. The team members went through a training period that helped them develop the foundation for continuous improvement. A facilitator supported both teams in their focused areas. Each team was allocated a manufacturing area (high risk, low risk) to intervene in, collaborating with each other and sharing insight. They were each then tasked with identifying and implementing improvements.

Over a period of 1 month the 2 teams were able to identify improvements that will save the company £300,000 as well as increase the general productivity of the plant. Also the teams have agreed with the management team a short-medium term plan to implement the improvements identified.