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Case Studies & More...


Since 1990, NuStratis has been helping organizations reach their potential. Making our clients successful is our primary objective. Our drive comes from our commitment to deliver value to our clients. Here are a few sample case studies we would like to share.

Meter Chassis Assembly Amazing Transformation

An industrial product manufacturing deploys a rapid transformation event to stay competitive

Situation

This facility is a relatively new factory, six years old, having generally mature product lines with the exception of an electronic meter product.  The focus area for the intervention was the electronic chassis assembly line.  This operation employed an average of 22 employees with an approximate production rate of 700 units per a 10-hour shift.  The process was composed of 20 steps in which 4 of them used tabletop presses.  The work area was arranged in a straight line using a roller conveyor as the mechanism for transporting material between operations.   The assembly process although simple contains repetitive motions.  The assembly operators are cross-trained and are rotated among production tasks weekly.

Opportunity

The electronic chassis assembly was configured as a traditional batch and queue process.   The material was assembled in batches with large amounts of work-in-process. This process resulted in long lead-times, and it occupied a large area.  The electronic meter is a relatively new product for the plant and it has a variable demand.   The typical approach to accommodating peaks in demand has been to add more associates to the line, a process that often led to slower rather than faster process times.  Demand for this product has steadily increased over the last year.

Objectives

At outset of the project, specific goals and performance measures were identified for the Kaizen event.  The objectives were to identify non-value-added activities (waste), improve assembly flexibility (product change over), reduce cycle time, improve utilization of space, and increase throughput by at least 50 percent.   The team observed the process, made measurements, suggested/evaluated alternatives and  tested improvements.

Results

The improvements involved simplifying the process, rearranging the layout, introducing pull production, and making other adjustments in the assembly processes.  

Other intangible results were achieved such as more balanced workload, less walking, reduced repetitive motion by rotating associates every 2 hours, enhanced communications, and improved team work.  In general, these intangible improvements were considered very important by the production associates.

The achieved results were accomplished by implementing the following concepts:

  • Cellular manufacturing
  • One-piece flow
  • The pull system
  • Kanbans

Automotive Actuator & Sensor Manufacturer Energizes Assembly Process

An automotive component manufacturer deploys a rapid transformation event to reduce inventory and increase productivity

Situation

The actuator and sensor facility is part of a major supplier to the automotive industry. This operation consisted of approximately 15 assembly and testing steps (This varied slightly by product). From an initial assessment of the assembly area, it appeared that excessive work-in-process was clogging the ability to increase throughput. The build up of the inventory was due to the way the material was moved from machine to machine. This material was moved between processes in multiple trays that held in excess of 75 units per tray. Many of the trays were placed on short roller conveyors to facilitate the feeding of the machines. It was also observed that the supposed “U” shaped layout was more like an “S” shape. Parts were assembled and tested within the “U” shaped cell, and then boxed and packed outside the “U.”. Employees had to walk constantly in and out of the cell to complete the production process.

Opportunity

Increased global competition and consumer expectations have forced automotive manufacturing organizations to provide improved quality products at lower costs. From previous improvement efforts, some progress had been made in improving the product flow. The area layout was in a “U” shape and self-managed teams had been implemented. However, there were still opportunities to improve the operations in areas such as floor space utilization, reducing work-in-process, and increasing throughput. The main focus of this intervention was to double the current production of units per shift.

Objectives

The actuator and sensor facility, in its efforts to improve its operations, had already begun an improvement program. The organization wished to implement a rapid improvement program to improve its production rates and improve its quality. The company had made improvements in its operations but was still struggling to reduce its costs and improve the effectiveness of its operations. The objectives were to increase throughput while reducing work-in-process.

Results

The Kaizen project team focused on the layout flow, workstation design, operator movements, and pull production. The cell itself was reduced in size, operations were rearranged, pull production reduced work-in-process levels, and the workstation was much better organized and arranged. The table below presents the results.

The achieved results were accomplished by implementing the following concepts:

  • Pull production/Kanbans trigger points
  • One peace flow
  • Cellular flow
  • 5’s

All of the concepts were implemented in three days with only 4 hours disruption to the assembly area.

Order Entry Process Transformation Overwhelming results

Application of Lean Six Sigma on an order entry process to reduce cycle time, batching and errors.

Situation

The organization has a fairly large staff and a complex process in their customer service and sales department. The company’s average cycle time for order processing ranged from 3 to 5 days. However, the existing hand-delivered, order-form process could take up to 17 days from the time a customer’s order was received in the company (usually over the ‘telephone or fax) to the time it actually reached the manufacturing floor. And this was for standard orders. Special order purchases (SOP) could take much longer. Not surprisingly, the company’s retention of customers and growth in business was suffering.

Opportunity

A team was identified and trained in the elements of rapid improvement process. The team then conducted analyses, mapping the process and identifying non-value-adding activities by observing and tracking items through the process. In the original process, there were 23 employees in customer service and sales, who had something to do with the order process, including customer service, SOP, data entry, fax service, inventory, order review and supervisory personnel. The team’s analysis revealed that at least eight persons touched a standard order on its long and tortuous journey through the labyrinth that the order followed. The analysis further revealed that the problems included the fact that the departmental layout was by functions, and hence the process was unnecessarily limited, sequential, bureaucratic, and replete with work-in-process paperwork. Also, the orders were batched at each stage. Thus, there was considerable inefficiency and high stress, customer response was long, and there was a lack of accountability. The complex process of order entry is depicted below.

Objectives

The order entry process was certainly in need of dramatic improvement. The approach to improve this area was the same as that followed in the improvement of manufacturing operations. The objectives were to simplify the process, improve efficiency and reduce order entry lead time..

Results

The team applied lean six sigma approaches to the order entry process. As a result, the team introduced one-piece flow, and re-layout of the customer service and sales department into a cellular arrangement. An analysis of the orders indicated that creating processing cells based upon specifically geographical sections of the country would result in a balancing of the workload. Three cells were formed. In this arrangement, only four people now handled the order from its first receipt until it reached manufacturing. The results were forthcoming within the first month of the cells being set up. Initially, one cell was tried out for three weeks as a pilot project and found to be a resounding success. The cellular configuration combined with one-piece flow improved productivity immediately by 80%. Achievements included: reduced lead time to less than the new target of 59 minutes; extra handling of orders was reduced by 90%; internal communication improved exponentially; and productivity was increased dramatically, while reducing non-value-added activities, both by 80%. This was an immediate success, apparent to all.

The achieved results were accomplished by implementing the following concepts:

  • Spaghetti analysis
  • One peace flow & takt time
  • Cellular flow
  • 5’s & visual management

Electrical Transformer Organization Receives Well beyond Expected Results

A leading fortune 100 organization drastically improves operations efficiency and reduces inventory

Situation

The transformer facility produces small transformers encapsulated in a special polymer. The process for building this product involved several stations located in different areas of the plant. The rapid transformation focused on the winding and assembly operations in the production process. The layout of this production line, typical of traditional manufacturing companies, was arranged by function. All low and high voltage-winding machines were clustered together, and the assembly operation was located some 50 feet away. All during the production day, one could see assembly operators walking back and forth gathering products to assemble. Due to the location of the winding machines and the assembly area, large amounts of work-in-process were present.

Opportunity

After initial training, the team began data collection and observation of the production process. The team observed that, in the assembly area, associates were partially assembling the units and then moving them to final assembly. It was noticed that the typical weight of a small transformer at this point was approximately 50 pounds. The assembly associates were picking up and putting down the transformers some thirty to forty times per day. This was a source of some dissatisfaction among production associates.

Objectives

Once all the information was collected and documented, the team had as its objectives, increasing throughput, reducing cycle time, and reducing floor space. The approach taken was to use cellular manufacturing as the key concept and eliminate the non-value-adding elements that filled this process.

Results

First, the product demand was reviewed and the number of low and high voltage machines was identified. These machines and the assembly area were laid out in a “U” shaped arrangement. The entire process was set up in such way that the assembly process would trigger the winding machines to produce only in the quantities needed. This way the work-in-process was reduced to less than 20 percent of what it had been. The communication between the associates was greatly improved and walking was virtually eliminated. Again, these intangible results were extremely important to the production associates. In Table below, the results achieved from this Kaizen intervention are given.

It is impressive to see these results after just three days. The true success in this transformation is in the sustaining of the achieved results. The initial step of implementing lean six sigma concepts is the simplest and the easiest. Once the concepts are implemented, it is the organization’s discipline and willingness to improve that achieves long-term success.

The achieved results were accomplished by implementing the following concepts:

  • Cellular manufacturing
  • One-piece flow
  • The pull system
  • Kanbans

Contact

  Address: 2805 Stratford Hall Dr
                       PO Box 97424
                       Raleigh, NC 27624

  Email:    nustratis.info@nustratis.com

  Phone:    919.488.0204


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