ULTRAFIT CASE STUDY
The Product: Tube and Pipe Bending and Fabricating
Location: Mississauga, Ontario.
Achieve major reductions in the following:
- distances traveled
- non value-adding activities
- manufacturing lead times
- reduce in-process and finished goods inventories
- implement one-piece flow
- implement quick changeover on the tube bending equipment.
These are challenges today’s manufacturers face every day; not
just to enhance the bottom line, but in order to survive. In fact, speed
and responsiveness might well be the currency of the future, and to have
it, means proper positioning now.
Until Recently this company was a typical
batch manufacturing company, where machinery required to complete the
process was located in
of the plant; tube bending in the bending department, tube-end
sizing in the end finishing department and welding of brackets
to tubes in the welding department.
Long changeover times on tube bending equipment
meant the manufacturing department produced parts in batch quantities.
In some cases orders
were batched together for two-week periods or longer, to be run
This practice created a need for higher levels
of finished goods inventory to create a safety stock of parts and prevent
- increased inventory required
- more floor space consumed for both finished goods and work
- inability to meet customers requests for short lead-time
Taking the Lean Approach
Initially this company set out to effect improvements
internally, however, managing the change generated only limited success
and it wasn’t
happening as quickly as the team had hoped. Management decided an outside
pair of eyes might help to expedite improvements, and called in Lean
Manufacturing Solutions Inc. a Hamilton based consulting firm to train
the teams in Lean Manufacturing concepts and methodologies and to facilitate
the teams throughout the change process.
Shop floor employees and support
personnel from scheduling, supervision, engineering and maintenance
came together to look at processes and break
them down into components. The team measured and mapped the manufacturing
processes and used a video camera to record an actual product changeover
on the bender.
1 piece flow
4 min. 23 sec.
Initially, a manufacturing cell was created to comprise bending, end
finishing and welding. By eliminating the work-in-process inventory
created by large batch flows, the team was able to fit the new cellular
production layout into the same area, and use less floor space. The
production line was balanced and moved to a one-piece flow where downstream
operations pulled production through the cell, rather than allowing
faster operations to work ahead and create inventory traffic jams.
Communication improved and the work team cross-trained each other to
facilitate job sharing and rotation throughout the day.
Set-ups are now faster and more consistent
yielding higher machine utilization and a reduction in both set-up
and production scrap. Reduced set-up time
also enhances manufacturing flexibility and allows a greater number of
different parts to be produced each day. This reduces the need for ‘safety
stock’ inventory and improves responsiveness to customers needs.
“We have a great group of employees who rose to the challenge
put before them”, notes Don Hockin, the company’s President. “Our
next objective will be a push toward a make to order environment, without
finished goods inventory. While this might seem a lofty goal, I am confident
in our team’s ability to meet the target.”
MELET CASE STUDY
The Product: Plastic Parts and Products
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Melet Plastics Inc., designers
and manufacturers of a variety of custom and proprietary products,
including folding aluminum mobility
canes for the sight impaired.
inventory levels, eliminate unneeded equipment, furniture and materials
and improve key performance indicators.
THE PROJECT OBJECTIVES
- Reduce distance travelled and space consumed by 50 percent
- Reduce excess inventory and implement a pull system for molded plastic
- Reduce overall process cycle time by 50 percent
- Remove unneeded equipment, furniture and materials from the work area
- Implement 5S & visual management
- Implement one-piece flow
The Kaizen blitz team studied the value stream, coming up with times
and distances for each step and observed a need to:
- Reduce the distance traveled and time wasted through the
entire process by setting up a U-shaped cell and having orders delivered
- Set up a visual cue for shipping to take away packaged product
- Remove unneeded items from the work area
WHAT THESE ACTIONS ACHIEVED
- Reduced non-value added process steps
- Cycle timer reduction of 51 percent
- Distance travelled reduced by 77 percent
- Reduced space consumption by 35 percent