Part II: Set-Up Reduction for the Inserting Machines

Part II: Set-Up Reduction for the Inserting Machines

Part II: Set-Up Reduction for the Inserting Machines

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Printing operation employees dramatically boost output and reduce scrap with set-up reduction events that improve flow, standardize work, and slash waste

A national printing and direct marketing company hired Daniel Penn Associates to support employee-led problem-solving in two Kaizen events designed to slash set-up times, speed changeovers, and improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) for its insertion and bindery operations.

After achieving a 63% reduction in set-up time for a major printing operation’s bindery machine, the Daniel Penn Associates team supported a second Kaizen event at the plant. The objective: reduce setup time on its 12 high-speed inserting machines, which produced 347,556,026 pieces over a 12-month period, with approximately 160 changeovers/set-ups at one hour apiece. An average production rate of 16,000 pieces per hour would yield an additional production potential of 1,280,000 pieces. By improving set-up practices, the company also sought to reduce material damage/scrap at 8%, to 2%, yielding an additional 307,000 pieces annually.

Inserting Machine Findings

The team studied the setup for one of the insertion machines as a pilot, applying their findings to develop an improved process for all 12 machines. Video of a changeover on the pilot machine revealed a 53-minute set-up time. The team discovered that procedures, machine checks, and machine adjustments were not standardized across the machine’s three shifts. Because the machine’s operator was not part of the set-up, the mechanic had to feed the machine while dialing it in. Rather than accelerating directly to the machine’s target rate, the mechanic gradually ramped up its speed. Lots of unnecessary back-and-forth walking happened during the set-up period. 

Identifying Solutions

The team identified 67 areas for improving set-up on the inserter machines, selected ideas to implement, developed a new set-up procedure incorporating those ideas, and retrained everyone working in the inserter operation on the new procedure. The operator is now part of the set-up team, and tasks are divided between the mechanic and the operator. The mechanic comes to the line before it goes down. A red and yellow signal approach alerts the team before changeovers. Set-up boxes are brought to the inserter on a cart to reduce walking. Material handlers ensure that materials for upcoming jobs are ready in a pre-staging area.

Inserting Machine – Revised Process

Revised Process Inserting Machine Results

At a 90-day audit, most of the 72 identified ideas for improving the inserter machine set-up have been implemented. The effort has resulted in substantially more communication between operators, mechanics, and supervisors. The improvements have yielded a new set-up time of 20 minutes, a 62% savings. Scrap has been reduced from 8% to less than 1%. The improvement in set-up reduction will enable the company to produce approximately 12 million more pieces per year on the first machine. With approximately 16 set-ups per month at an average of 13,000 pieces per hour, the team calculates that the set-up downtime saved for the company’s 12 insertion machines allows the production of 972,000 more pieces per month, or 26% more than the originally estimated 9,225,000 pieces per year improvement. Set-up reduction improvements and operator training are now being implemented on the other 11 machines. Supervisory staff and shop floor personnel are happy with the results and plan to transfer the learning activities to the company’s 2nd and 3rd shift operations.

Lessons for Continuous Improvement

The employee teams participating in these set-up reduction events learned important lessons they now apply in their work. They understand how to identify good and bad quality products, how to identify and eliminate wastes, particularly unnecessary movement and overproduction, how to create standard work, train to it, and sustain it, and how to use, store, and maintain the right tools. Above all, they are actively improving communication and coordination between the company’s departments.

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