Value Stream Mapping Helps Cable Manufacturer Meet Customer Requirements
A manufacturer of cables for power, control and instrumentation were challenged by a key client to solve out-the-door shipping issues and reduce product lead times. The company’s new operations manager – an advocate of lean principals to improve company performance – understood the importance of helping teams visualize and improve workflows.
To better understand their current operational state and develop an improvement plan to meet performance targets, the company asked Daniel Penn Associates (DPA) to lead a value stream mapping (VSM) and lean continuous improvement Kaizen event. A proven tool to increase efficiency, value stream mapping examines product movement, machine placement, resource allocation and lead times among other elements that affect productivity.
Start with Training
DPA senior consultant Paul Bourdon focused the event on practices and behaviors that would help evolve the company’s operational culture from a Batch and Push mentality to Flow and Pull concepts. To enhance learning, employees followed Rother and Shook’s Learning to See steps and referred to the value stream mapping workbooks DPA provided.
The team created a “living map” to track production flow for one cable product that the team initially pegged with a 12-week lead time. After observing the process and creating a Current State map for the product, the team calculated 184 days of door-to-door inventory. Dividing the 184 days of inventory by a 5-day production week, they discovered that ACTUAL lead time for the product was a whopping 36.8 weeks.
Setting Goals; Creating a Plan
After finishing the Current State map, the team learned about Future State mapping and planning. Bourdon guided the team to develop a Future State process that was realistic, aggressive, achievable and results-based. After setting a Future State goal to reduce lead times from 36.8 weeks to 8 weeks (an 80% reduction), they used lean principles to create the product’s Future State implementation plan.
During Kaizen bursts (also called rapid improvement activities), the team brainstormed, prioritized and developed a timeline for tasks that would improve machine reliability, ensure vendor product quality, create lean flow, reduce changeover times, improve placement of certain processes and insource activities.
As a result of DPA’s support, the company projects reductions in lead time by 80%, processing time by 68% and travel distance by 72%.
By focusing on inventory reduction and delivery to customer requirements, the team predicts a 20% increase in sales and a nearly 80% gain in schedule adherence. The Kaizen event also revealed a number of operational improvements that, when implemented, should reduce part travel distance by 75%. By reducing part travel and “hidden factory” steps in manufacturing operations, the company anticipates that these process improvements will enhance safety measures, reduce energy consumption and satisfy an important customer.