By Ray Young
When changing machines from one product to another, can efficiency gains occur?
A major bottling manufacturer of carbonated beverages faced a constant challenge: an increasing need to changeover machines from one product flavor to another as a result of changing consumer demand. This need also required that all machines on that specific bottling line be configured to the new product requirements. Such a configuration resulted in several observed issues: the first was a lack of standardized knowledge required to change each piece of equipment from one product to the next and the second was a formal training plan to provide all mechanics the necessary knowledge to provide consistent, timely changeovers. As a result, highly variable changeover times were observed, requiring many adjustments be made to the equipment after the line started production. The result was delays in production schedules, completion of product volume and undue stress on revenue forecasts. In the spirit of collaboration, the plant manager first agreed to video the machine changeovers in order to identify non-value-added steps with the goal of streamlining the changeover process, thus reducing the downtime and increasing production uptime.
Based upon gathering information from a team of operators and managers, it became apparent that three critical areas needed addressing:
- mechanic on-boarding training was necessary as well as on-going training for the mechanics in changeover and troubleshooting techniques
- agreed-upon and proven process steps needed to be documented for each machine used for mechanic training and future on-boarding opportunities for consistency and repetition
- a process verification that would occur on a daily basis to insure all process steps/settings and required training were taking place and on track
TRIALS, TRIUMPHS & TRANSFORMATIONS
Forming the group provided challenges as differing personalities and experience levels resulted in several lively conversations. But eventually, consensus was reached and a set of process steps, training requirements and critical measurements for each machine were developed. From this exercise, each mechanic was trained on these deliverables and the new process was implemented and measured for effectiveness. Monitoring for understanding and proper feedback was instituted and minor changes made to the controlling documents were incorporated. A new spirit of cooperation between mechanics and management was mentioned as one of the key benefits of this exercise.
A transformation took place as normal training documents and standards were developed, recorded and delivered to each mechanic. This documentation highlighted the steps necessary to properly changeover the machine, along with critical steps and settings that needed to be maintained in order to operate at optimum levels of production. As part of the standards, photos of critical settings were laminated and posted at the machine so a management representative could monitor for compliance on each shift.
The first 30 days of the productivity exercise was spent identifying the critical areas of concern, assessing deficiencies, capturing baseline productivity data, and working with local management and employees to agree upon the project plan, form the group, develop the improvements and craft an implementation plan and schedule.
At the beginning of the last 30 days, the deployment plan was executed, training occurred, and after-improvement data was captured. At the end of the 60 days, changeover time had decreased by an average of 55%, and an additional 1,320 cases of product per year could be manufactured, due to the reduction in changeover and adjustment time. This combination of improvements increased the plants sales margin by $79,000/year on only one of six bottling lines. If initiated on all six lines, this equates to a $474,000 margin increase for the plant.
SBTI offers a step-by-step proven methodology to capture constraints and issues around most business restriction that often center around human dynamics and a lack of a clear, concise process standard. With our repeatable methods, process complexity can be delineated into manageable chunks, which then can be tactically addressed. We offer a simple strategic model of Listen/Design/Execute, and the Listen step is of no cost to you. We meet with you and your team and have a conversation involving your business goals, profitability needs and to assess our ability to partner with you toward those goals.