Standardize Manufacturing Flow and Reduce Lead Times

Daniel Penn Case Study - Standardize Manufacturing Flow and Reduce Lead Times

Daniel Penn Associates helped a contract manufacturer of medical device, commercial and bearing components standardize manufacturing flow and reduce lead times by 12-20%.

Several parts and assemblies produced by this manufacturer require special processes such as heat treating, unique machining or chemical processing. Some parts require up to four processing steps outside the facility, returning for internal processing before leaving the facility.

The steps of outgoing inspection, shipping, tracking at suppliers, receiving, and receiving inspection add up to 8 days of lead time for the parts, with queues that create bottlenecks in three locations.

Increase internal flow through the company’s inspection and shipping functions to reduce bottlenecks and lead times.

Standardize Manufacturing Flow and Reduce Lead Times

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Through process mapping and inventory analysis, identify key elements within internal processes that will allow for a 12% reduction in inventory and lead time. The team identified visual controls that trigger movement of material to the suppliers or back into the internal manufacturing processes.

DPA’s senior consultant worked closely with the manufacturer’s kaizen team members, including two people from planning, one person from shipping, another team member from facilities maintenance, and the lean director. They mapped the process using a tried-and-true swim lane process map, which diagrams a process from start to finish, dividing these steps into categories to help distinguish which departments or employees are responsible for each set of actions.

The kaizen team also counted inventory at each of nine queues determined during the mapping process. The team split into two subgroups. One group worked with company personnel who examined the process to identify visual triggers that would alert subsequent processes that parts were available to be moved. The second group identified space in the shipping area to visually stage material for shipping or receiving.

When the two groups got back together, they spent time to identify the roles and responsibilities for two key individuals to manage the process. The first role was that of a materials coordinator to determine priorities at each queue. The second role identified was that of a ‘water spider’, or material handler. The team specified a regular route through the facility for the water spider that would be traveled multiple times per day.

Findings Eight different departments were involved in the process, with more than 20 different hand-offs of parts or information needed to get parts to the service supplier, then received and returned to internal operations. Along with the volume of parts and the associated orders, priority changes affected queues throughout, with some orders and parts sitting for undue periods of time. There were no visual signals to indicate material was available to be moved at any of the nine locations.

Team members implemented or refined visual controls at three key locations. They also freed up space in the warehouse and shipping areas by removing obsolete office equipment, and extraneous process material.

Results When all kaizen newspaper items are implemented, the lead time for internal flow in the company should be reduced by at least 12%, and closer to 20% as the flow becomes more standardized. The walking distance for paperwork and parts will be reduced by 50%. Additionally, another key element in this process, the supply base, has been identified as an area to be improved, which will result in further reductions in lead time and work-in-process.