Adapting Two Production Cells

Daniel Penn - Case Study

DPA helps New England manufacturer adapt two production cells

DPA led two Kaizen events with a New England based manufacturer of complex metal stampings, welded assemblies and surgical cutters. The goal? Dramatically boost productivity for two distinct assembly areas.

DPA consultants worked with their respective teams to examine the cells’ layouts and process flows, beginning with raw material and ending with final ship-to-customer parts.

Challenged with increasing their cell’s throughput from 25,000 to 50,000 pieces per week, Team #1 mapped its current equipment layout, timed each operation and created a problem-action-responsibility matrix. Taking into account new equipment that would be brought into the cell, they diagrammed space-and-movement saving placements for laser equipment, inspection and packaging areas.

As a result of Team #1’s findings, the manufacturer allocated 3,000 additional square feet to the cell. With the same number of employees, Cell #1’s new layout has yielded a 233 percent decrease in work-in-process inventory, a 400 percent decrease in walking distance and parts traffic time and a 300 percent decrease in production lead times.

Meanwhile, Team #2 identified undocumented production steps, delay and process issues and methods to consolidate outside operations for their cell. To accelerate components’ flow, they found ways to eliminate parts stoppages and inventory delays. They isolated/contained the placement of some operations while pairing others.

Team #2’s work yielded equally dramatic results for their cell’s three key processes. In the assembly area, assembly process lead time dropped from 20.4 days to less than two hours; employees’ travel distance within the cell dropped from 2900 feet to less than 100 feet.