2002 was certainly a year to get behind us. By June of 2002 the plants were about 20% off their high water marks reached in 2000.
Knowing things were going to be slow, we decided to use our slow time wisely and brush up on our “Lean Manufacturing Skills.” This had the benefit of meeting our “Continuous Improvement” goals, as well as keeping more people working through the slow times. The State paid for the trainers, and we paid for our activities in the class room and shop floor.
One of the highlights of our manufacturing training was a Lean Simulation in which over half of the company had a chance to participate in.
“I couldn’t believe the productivity improvements our group was able to accomplish by changing to a ‘Pull’ system,” said one team member. Another lean learner said, “combining the hands-on with the text book learning really drives the point home!”
Over six months, the teams received manufacturing training in Lean Techniques and then went to work on the floor to improve office flow, set-up times, lead times, quick turn-around, as well as major reorganizations of a number of work areas.
The Sullair Team was actually building on work that they had begun the year before, but was still able to cut customer lead time by 33%, and get set-up times reduced by as much as 30 minutes. “It’s amazing what you find when we go through our work spaces,” says 5s expert, Tom Foley. “We now save hundreds of hours previously spent looking for tools. It’s been great,” says Mike Ocasio, “if we needed tools or equipment within our budget, we just went and got it! If it was more expensive, we only needed to justify the expense!”
The Carlyle Team has simplified the flow of paper work and parts to a point that we tripled the speed through the shop, and cut the inventory in HALF! And the job has just begun; they will soon be working to integrate the new RZ400 in the hard finish cell.
Safety Team Grants & Activities
The Safety Team was awarded a grant to “Train the Trainer.” This grant will enable more training in-house by our own people, thereby saving time and money in the future.
The team was also very proud of the fact that they developed a safety video for our hearing impaired associates. The safety video will also be used in other manufacturing plants interested in improving the message of a safe work place among the hearing impaired employees.
Thanks to the Safety Team and especially George Intze, aka “The Safety Monster,” for another successful team.