Barry W. Miller - June 6, 2018

“I’m too busy getting products out the door to focus on the big picture.”

“I wear so many hats; I don’t have time to work on new initiatives.”

“I can’t this week. I’m on the floor putting fires out.”

Does this sound like your company?

Regional manufacturing leaders across varying sectors have expressed that now, more than ever, they’re busy helping satisfy customers. They’re so busy, in fact, that they’ve noticed bottlenecks developing at various spots within their businesses’ operations. Now is the time to fix those bottlenecks! Below are five fail-safe tools DVIRC’s Continuous Improvement experts help business leaders implement to reduce lead time and allow more work to move efficiently through the same resources:

  • Reduce Cycle and Changeover Time (Set-up Reduction): Business leaders often expend tremendous time performing trial runs, making adjustments, and moving materials. Implementing an easy yet crucial improvement process called Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) can dramatically help improve changeover/set-up times by analyzing each element of the changeover to see if it can be eliminated, moved, simplified, or streamlined. The essence of the SMED system is to convert as many changeover steps as possible to “external” (performed while the equipment is running), and to simplify and streamline the remaining steps. The name Single-Minute Exchange of Dies comes from the goal of reducing changeover times to the “single” digits (i.e. less than 10 minutes). Think of a racecar pit!
  • Value Stream Mapping: Value stream mapping (VSM) is an incredible tool you can use to identify opportunities to reduce lead time, cost, and poor quality. VSM includes mapping out a product’s production path from beginning to end, drawing a visual representation of every process in the material and information flows, and then drawing a map – a future state – that illustrates how the value should flow. Following these steps will then enable you to develop a prioritized list of improvement items that you and your team can address. A value stream is much more than a single process or manufacturing plant; it includes all of the processes from raw materials to the customer.
  • Cellular/Flow Manufacturing: Establishing proper flow in your manufacturing process is essential to meeting customer demand and producing in the most efficient manner. Cellular manufacturing can enable your business to balance operations to a “Takt Time” (the rate at which a finished product needs to be completed in order to meet customer demand) that eliminates bottlenecks in the process and fulfills customer demand by linking manual and machine operations in the most efficient combination to maximize value-added content and minimize waste.

Kanban Pull Systems: A Kanban Pull system, as opposed to a Push system, attempts to control and improve the flow of work by allocating resources only when there is demand and when capacity is available, not based on forecasted demand. The primary benefit from pull scheduling is to avoid excess inventory and waste, along with the overhead required to manage that excess inventory. “

Kanban” the Japanese word for “visual sign is used to signal steps in a manufacturing process. Kanban is a visual system for managing work as it moves through a process. It visualizes both the process (the workflow) and the actual work passing through that process. The goal of Kanban is to identify potential bottlenecks in your process and fix them so work can flow through it cost-effectively at an optimal speed or throughput. It also standardizes cues and refines processes, which helps reduce waste and maximize value.

5S Program: 5S is a system comprised of five steps to create sustainable, visual process control. When implemented, 5S will create standardization and improve your workplace organization. The five steps include:

  1. Sort: when in doubt, throw it out
  2. Set In Order: A place for everything, and everything in its place
  3. Shine: Inspect through cleaning
  4. Standardize: Everyone follows the same processes and procedures
  5. Sustain: Make 5S a part of your company’s daily work procedure

Now is the time to fix your bottlenecks to effectively utilize your resources. DVIRC can help!

Through its consulting services and courses, DVIRC has worked with firms of varying sizes and functions on Lean and Continuous Improvement strategies. To learn more about these and other services DVIRC offers, contact us today.