Fiber materials producer gets to the bottom of waste-causing issues
A global producer of non-woven fiber-based materials (filters, liners, food and beverage processing materials; specialty papers, glass and medical fibers for consumer, industrial and medical use) needed to reduce waste for products manufactured on one of its large paper machines.
Daniel Penn Associates senior consultant Mike Beauregard led the company’s team approach to pinpoint and rectify issues that were contributing to that waste.
With a goal of 0.5% waste reduction, the company’s team of 13 began with lean and kaizen-related training that focused on root cause analysis.
The team first analyzed the company’s extensive process data and making observations on the floor. From these, they created Pareto Diagrams of web break causes, locations, and combinations of cause/location.
The major causes of web breaks were identified as strings, very large holes, debris, and wet end deposits. In addition, foam, build upon rolls and undercooked fibers were identified as causes of holes that were too small to cause web breaks, but would be a quality problem for customers.
The team did a What it is/What it Isn’t analysis comparing product grades for very large holes. This analysis identified key differences between grades that had lower rates of very large holes compared to those grades that had higher rates. The results of this analysis were used to identify potential solutions.
The team identified causes for large holes, strings, debris, wet end deposits, foam, build up on rolls, and undercooked fibers. They used a Shewhart/Cause & Effect Diagram approach – breaking down the causes into People, Materials, Equipment, Methods, and Environment categories. These causes were organized on the diagrams and the diagrams were utilized to identify potential preventive measures (solutions) to prevent the causes from occurring.
Thirty solutions were generated; each would prevent a cause that could lead to a very large hole and/or a web breakage. Action plans were created for 23 of the 30 solutions. The actions included raw material improvements, changes to process conditions and preventive maintenance activities, changes to stock preparation for consistency, and documentation verification.
Results and benefits
Once all solutions are in place, the team projected that 50% of breaks will be eliminated on products from the machine. This translates to an additional 15,000 pounds of product the machine will produce every month. Reduced waste will also mean time gained on the machine’s winder, increasing the run rate by two tons per day.
The team expects to hit its initial 0.5% waste reduction target in 3-4 months, then exceed that target after all improvements have been made.
Continuous Improvement through Lessons Learned
The team came away with lessons that will support the company’s future waste reduction efforts.
- Looking at raw materials and how they are packaged can solve a number of issues.
- Just because procedures are written doesn’t mean everyone is following them.
- Data are essential to confirm ‘tribal knowledge’ on the floor.
- Multifunctional teams get real-time clarification and feedback.