Manufacturer Turns Problems Into Solutions
Practical Problem Solving
Donnelly Custom Manufacturing faced a machine set-up cart problem. The Alexandria-based company is an industry specialist in short-run custom manufacturing. The set-up carts are used to make 40 to 50 mold changeovers a day but Individual hooks held multiple tools, the labels were hard to read and the bins made it difficult to see tools at a glance. The horizontal shelves were easily cluttered, making it hard to identify misplaced or missing tools. The disorganization meant the carts were ineffective for conducting set-ups and that caused extended machine downtime.
So Donnelly turned to what President Ron Kirscht calls its toolbelt. "Lean is our toolbelt with lots of tools. We don't want to use a screwdriver to pound a nail," he says. The tool they reached for was Enterprise Minnesota's Practical Problem Solving (PPS), a consulting service that shows manufacturers how to define a problem, analyze the issue, develop an implementation plan, and take steps to solve the problem. The process was developed by industry-leader Toyota.
The process helped Donnelly reorganize the setup carts and reduce changeover times. "The time lost searching for tools was eliminated," says Sam Wagner, director of advanced manufacturing. "Also eliminated was the frustration related to not having tools available when needed."
Krischt adds, "Wasted time looking for the proper tool represents a form of task interference that can quickly become a motivational inhibitor. Employees achieve high performance when they possess the confidence, competence and commitment to succeed."
Another way Donnelly used PPS was to improve training in its post-molding area. "We found our training documents to be too vague," says Wagner. "Many did not include key points or reasons 'why' and providing this information is critical to learning the task." Providing more concise information led to fewer errors and cost of quality related to machining issues improved by over 90 percent.
One of the specific components of PPS is the A3, a report that documents 10 steps to take, from problem identification to resolution, in a fashion that facilitates knowledge sharing and team work.
"With the A3 process and the depth it brings with it, PPS is a good way for us to continue to make improvements and a great tool to broaden our skills in our Lean journey, which is never-ending," Kirscht says.
For more information on Enterprise Minnesota's Practical Problem Solving consulting services, go to www.enterpriseminnesota.org or email Enterprise Minnesota Business Growth Advisor
Lean Product Development: Getting Highly Manufacturable Products to Market
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012
14601 Ramsey Blvd
What to Expect:
Need to find a way to bring better products to market faster and more efficiently? Optimizing workflow in today's competitive environment means processes need to be fast, efficient and highly effective. Come hear manufacturing executives tell their stories of reduced lead times, improved products at lower costs and profitable business results.
• Kevin Weiss, Product Line Manager,
Circle Pines, MN
• Jeff Scholten, General Manager,
Water Heater Innovations,
• Traci Tapani, Co-President
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