Dozens of Process and Quality Improvements

In addition to establishing the central job tracker/work flow board as a central communication tool, the team implemented hundreds of other process and quality improvements. Examples include:

• Bringing some machines physically closer together;

• Printing the job start date more visibly on work orders;

• Setting up break areas closer to machines, so workers don’t need to travel as far for short breaks;

• Establishing a permanent cell for quick die jobs, giving the team leader control of overtime;

• Tracking the amount of time parts should stay in the department, compared with actual amount of time spent; and

• Meeting with the team leader from the materials work group to discuss s to speed the delivery of material to the shop floor.

Underlying all process improvement is ensuring that team members understand that all production delays impact on-time delivery success. One-piece flow is the goal.

A key element of that initial SDWT was development of a three-tiered reward system for meeting objectives. Now every team must develop such a system, related to achieving its goals within an allotted time frame. For example, a team might earn a pizza lunch after achieving 95-percent on-time delivery performance for one week out of a month. After reaching that goal three times, the team must step up to the next level and achieve a monthly average of 95 percent to receive a reward. After achieving the second-stage goal three times, the team moves to the third-stage goal—achieving an on-time delivery performance average of 95 percent for eight consecutive weeks.

Taking Ownership

The original SWDT took six months before realizing improvements. On-time delivery performance increased significantly at the six-month mark, and currently stands at about 96 percent. Much of that success falls to two shop-floor team leaders—Dennis Palmieri and Vitor Louro—who jumped on the bandwagon and urged the team on to greater and greater success. Now all of the team members have taken ownership, steadily thinking about how to improve the process. Says Palmieri: “We find ourselves thinking about improvements 24/7, even while not at work.”

The energy and drive that the team has directed toward improving on-time delivery has spilled over to quality control. The quality-control operator on the SWDT now is authorized to conduct first-piece inspection. The team hopes to be able to push the envelope even further by packaging and shipping its product directly from the shop floor.

According to Pelletier, surpassing 95-percent on-time delivery performance is a remarkable achievement, considering the company services nearly 700 customers and ships nearly 6000 different parts per year. One key to that success is a focus on measurement and posting of individual operator efficiency, because now workers can see the relationship between lost time and on-time performance.

Says Gaston: “You can’t improve what you don’t measure. If, for example, the goal is to produce 200 parts/hr., we may have individual operators producing anywhere from 60 to 150-percent of that goal. So while we won’t single anyone out, we encourage team leaders to work to understand the reasons why an operator’s performance is at the lower end, and address them. Maybe he needs more training, or different tools.”

Expanding the SDWTs Across the Facility

According to Steve Dicke, CSS vice president of sales and marketing, one of the most gratifying outcomes of CSS’s expansion of lean to include SDWTs is how the boundaries and guidelines for the initial team have expanded over time. “The people on that team are now training and providing guidance to the 20 other teams we have established,” he says.

As CSS has adopted the SDWT philosophy throughout the company, its steering-committee members have become leaders of 12 of the self-directed work teams. And recently this group decided to go from meeting monthly to weekly, sharing ideas and tracking SDWT progress. No management employees attend these meetings except for Pelletier, who only communicates the needs of the teams so that management can provide any requested resources. The SDWT approach is backed by a new company-wide philosophy emphasizing that all employees who do not touch parts must provide support to those who do.

Pelletier concludes by stating that any organization can benefit from the SDWT approach, but it will only succeed with the commitment and support from management. “It takes tremendous effort and commitment from the highest management levels to the supporting office functions, and on the shop floor. But the results are well-worth it.” MF

Article provided by Connecticut Spring & Stamping: 860/677-1341;

Industry-Related Terms: Die, Run
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Management


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