Speeding Set-ups for a Medical Device Manufacturer

DPA Kaizen Team Helps Medical Device Manufacturer Reduce Set Up Time

DPA Kaizen Team Helps Medical Device Manufacturer Reduce Set Up Time

A contract medical device manufacturer needed to reduce set up time on a 100-ton stamping press that produces a key component for a client’s medical devices.

To meet increased demand for this component, the company sought to reduce set up time on the press from an estimated average of four hours to less than two hours. The company initially projected this time savings would result in an additional 900,000 parts per year.

Assessing the Situation
DPA’s Kaizen leader worked with a team of six company employees to document current performance of the set-up crew through video and observation of their activities. Each member of the team also evaluated the work area for safety, access to required tooling and access to the machine.

Defining the Real Goal
After reviewing the current set up process, the Kaizen team found that the company’s four-hour set up time estimate was based on labor only. Actual set up time on the press from last good part to first good part for the changeover the team was 20 hours as videotaped. Too much time was being spent repairing the next toolset going into the press and getting it ready. Workers were wasting time and movement to retrieve material from the warehouse, hunt for the right tools, and find or repair spare components within a disorganized tool room and work area. Metal coils were being randomly placed through the production area when a job was completed.

While paperwork was supposed to follow each batch of material, there was no step in the process to signal that it was needed. In some cases, operators had to return to the warehouse to retrieve the papers.

The Kaizen team also discovered safety issues with manually moving the heavy die sets into place in the press.

Creating Solutions
Based on these findings, the team developed a plan that would reduce set-up time by converting the die set tooling repair and the set-up preparation activities from ‘internal’ (while the press was down) to ‘external’ work that was done while the previous job was running.

They created a system to have material from the warehouse on hand when the set-up begins. Operators now have a cart with all tools and fasteners present that are needed for the set-up, eliminating the need to search for them. Each set of tooling now has its own set-up box of associated parts. Racks were organized to store unused tooling. An area was marked on the floor to store metal coils to be returned to the warehouse.

The team organized the spare parts drawers and the tooling storage. To improve workflow and decrease clutter, only the tooling being worked on will be staged on the tool room benches.

To keep it on hand with each batch of material, paperwork is now placed in a plastic sleeve and affixed with magnets on the side of the stamping line’s controller machine.

To eliminate the safety issues, the team will install removable bars in the bolster plate. In addition, they will evaluate lift devices to help operators move the heavy die sets into and out of the press.

Testing it Out
After making numerous changes to the line’s tooling, set up, storage and safety procedures, the Kaizen team ran a trial of their new “be prepared” process. It took less than one hour from the start of the set-up up to the quality checks. Because failures are now so infrequent after a set-up, the team met with the head of Quality and got permission to run parts on Hold while quality checks are being made.

Final Benefits Exceed Initial Goal
The company’s original projection of a four-to-two hour set up reduction would have resulted in the production of an additional 900,000 parts annually based on 250 set-ups per year and an 1800 parts per hour average rate.

The team found that there are actually 150 set-ups per year on the stamping press. After the Kaizen team’s changes were made, the trial set-up process took 1 hour up to the Quality check.

The team conservatively estimates the savings in downtime at 6 hours per set-up. Six-hour savings on 150 set-ups annually would allow an additional 1,620,000 parts per year to be produced, which exceeds the company’s original goal of +900,000 parts per year.

Improvement Never Stops
As a result of the Kaizen event it held with DPA, the team developed a list of 71 additional action items for improving the set-up time, with dates and individuals assigned to each. For example, a list of spare parts for the tooling was developed and the team plans to acquire those spare parts over the next three quarters.