Lean Manufacturing

How a Manufacturing Company Streamlined Operational Best Practices
Situation: Multi-Site operations for the manufacturing of commercial and home products recently acquired a competitor. The company needed to standardize and streamline the operational best practices across all facilities. Immediate improvements were required to ensure customer satisfaction regarding quality and on-time delivery. The business had no existing improvement program, standardized process documentation, or KPI reporting. They also had limited exposure to Lean Manufacturing techniques through local college classes. Actions: MetaExperts Chris implemented Lean Manufacturing across 7 US facilities in a structured process. He also created shop floor teams with daily KPI discussion and reporting. The development of support teams improved bottom-to-top communication and assured accountability of reaching goals. The principles of 4S, Ideas/Suggestions, and SoPs were engaged in all of the departments, including customer service, sales, and finance. Executive management and cross-functional teams instituted Value Stream Mapping and conducted kaizen events in specific manufacturing and engineering areas. The business created…
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MetaExpert Scott Assembles SME Super Team to Restore Pharmaceutical Shortage
Situation The sterile injectable manufacturing site of a multi-national pharmaceutical company experienced a sudden and unexpected increase in units with visible crystals. Despite the drug being on the FDA drug shortage list, manufacturing was temporarily halted. Sufficient determination of the root cause of the crystallization with proposed countermeasures was required to restart manufacturing. The company brought skilled MetaExpert Scott in to lead the charge.  Actions Sterile injectable crystallization is a niche technology that requires extensive expertise. MetaExpert Scott assembled a cross-functional Black Belt team which included operators, technicians, process engineers, and chemists. In close collaboration with his team of functional subject matter experts (SMEs), Scott developed and deployed a strategy to return the product to production and removal from the FDA drug shortage list. This was accomplished by: Investigating and responding to the manufacturing deviation  Identifying the root cause(s) of crystallization Evaluating the feasibility of product reformulation Under Scott’s leadership,…
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Monti Packs a Big Punch with Protein Bar Packaging Overhaul
Situation A manufacturer for protein bar packaging recently moved relocated from a 50,000 square foot operation facility to a new 350,000-square-foot operation facility. This resulted in an assembly line production change where stand-up assembly packaging lines were converted to brand new automated packaging lines. In addition, there was a folding carton redesign where the Straight Tuck End folding cartons were replaced by new Top Kliklok folding cartons. The manufacturer also transitioned to and needed to integrate a new international packaging equipment supplier. Finally, the company needed a new documentation system for more accurate data collection and organization from start to finish.  The manufacturing company hired MetaExpert Kier-Monti, a packaging engineering expert with ample experience to design, measure, analyze, improve, and control the entire packaging process from location A to location B.  Actions Over the course of an 18-month contract, Kier-Monti took the following actions and strategies to evaluate and retool…
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Alignment Process Mapping
Alignment diagrams by themselves do much more than present a linear flow of activities. Buried in the process are various levels of analysis and strategies. Indeed, Aligned process mapping defines the “engineered customer and company experience.” The company wants its customers to have a great experience to the point that they will recommend the company to friends and acquaintances. With the power of social media, complete strangers can gain important insights and referrals from others. This fact can be a double-edged sword because bad experiences are also prone to revelation to the general populace of potential customers. Benefit 1. Empathy Analyzing processes, what they are supposed to do requires an examination of the human reactions along the chain of events. At each touchpoint are human beings (although this is changing for the worse, in my opinion.) For example, technology is supposed to speed things up and improve communication processes. Enter…
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Manufacturing Plant
Situation A manufacturing plant was suffering from excessively high in-process scrap rates (6.8%) in the zinc smelting department. Although the raw material could be re-melted and salvaged, the labor costs were excessive and on-time product deliveries were at stake.  Actions To remedy the inefficiencies in the manufacturing process, the company called on MetaExpert Michael. Micheal led the company through analysis. They studied the data and found that the root cause of the problem was with two-part numbers coming from two die-cast machines.  Furthermore, Michael studied the parts and his efforts and attention to detail in the manufacturing processes led to the discovery that the tools used were not properly vented. This caused porosity in the parts which resulted in the high in-process scrap rates. Results MetaExpert Michael’s experience in manufacturing processes and keen eye led to both tools being repaired at a cost of less than $15,000 each. The root…
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What Is the Cost of Safety?

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What is the cost of Safety
What is the cost of Safety when it’s not the first priority Have you ever wondered if putting money into your organization’s safety policy was worth it? If so, you’re not alone. Many people think they can put safety off, until something happens, and then, they instantly regret their decision. One organization in particular made an investment in improving their safety and truly reaped the benefits. Their safety turnaround resulted in Zero Lost Time Incidents, One million safe hours…then, two million safe hours, An Iowa Safety Council Award, and A National Safety Council Award. Perhaps most importantly, the safety improvement even lead to a feature story on ABC prime time. (more…)
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Business team testing virtual reality headset in meeting
Ron Crabtree The concept of 5S, which is a methodology to reduce waste through a rigorous approach to workplace organization and cleanliness has five steps that loosely translate as Sort, Setup, Scrub, and Shine, Standardize and, finally, Sustain. Until recently, it never really occurred to me that the concept of 5S could be extended creatively to improving processes that have absolutely nothing to do with physical organization. Joann Parrinder is a co-author of our book Driving Operational Excellence and has written a very interesting chapter in it titled “Lean Thinking Applied to Your Idea Development [Life]cycle.” Joann, glad you could join me. Joann Parrinder Thanks, Ron. I’m glad to be here. Let me give you a bit of my background. I have about 15 years of program and project experience and I’m PMP certified in project management. I like to build things, so my projects have primarily been in the…
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Team Of Engineers Having Discussion In Factory
Ron Crabtree We’re going to touch on something near and dear to our hearts in any kind of a business setting. Specifically, identifying an illuminating the sources of business waste. It is my pleasure here to introduce to you in a moment another of the authors of the book, Driving Operational Excellence, Mr. Gary Wickett. In Chapter 14, Gary takes a refreshing look at practical ways to think about waste and a very pragmatic and simple approach to smoking out the true root causes of systemic and process wastes. I like Gary’s chapter so well I included it as reading for the Michigan government process re-engineering program I recently developed and delivered. One of the things I particularly liked about Gary’s chapter is he makes it specific to the service providing industry. He uses a fantastic case study in applying these techniques, so no matter what it is you do,…
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