Written By Antonio Solinas, Consultant, and Saverio Russo, Director
Background and Challenges
The client, a leading manufacturer within the Food industry, was concerned with the availability and performance metrics of the operations (Production and Pack&Label lines). The client was experiencing inefficiencies such as:
• Huge amount of time spent by operators on waiting for technical assistance, caused by inefficient troubleshooting processes
• Frequent and short line stoppages, which were difficult to track and solve
• Time wasted by operators, who were bringing consumable materials from another department to the line - leading to low reactivity in presence of technical issues while the activity was performed
In order to address these operational efficiency issues and move forward to a step-by-step path to improvement, Top Management was willing to perform two Kaizen Event pilots on the critical lines within the Pack&Label department. Tefen was asked to help run one of the two Kaizen pilots, in competition with another Consulting Company.
The objective of the Kaizen Event was to identify operating solutions that would lead to an O.E.E. (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) increase of at least 10% while enhancing operators' involvement in issues handling.
Fig. 1: What does Kaizen mean?
Tools & Methodologies
As preparatory activities before the Kaizen week, Tefen conducted a series of preliminary analyses on the selected lines, focusing on throughput by shift as well as the level of O.E.E. and its components (availability, performance efficiency, quality). This was coupled with interviews conducted with the Management, along with several on-site visits (“Gemba walk”). These actions allowed Tefen to pre-identify the key areas that would be focused upon and discussed in depth during the Kaizen Event.
The Kaizen event was prepared and performed in three main steps:
1. Training: The first day Tefen provided the team members (mainly operators and technicians) with a comprehensive training on the Kaizen philosophy, and the Lean methodologies that would be used during the following days. In addition, Tefen reviewed and validated with the team the focus areas that were identified, and ran a quick game to establish team spirit and gather feedback on members’ personalities.
2. Issues identification and RCA: Leveraging on Lean methodologies, especially the “Fishbone” and the “5 Whys” ones, Tefen performed a detailed analysis of the main issues that the selected lines reported, as well as an in-depth activity of root-causing on identified issues. As an example, the RCA allowed Tefen to understand that some problems that kept on happening at the end of the line, actually originated at the top of the line: this helped focus on the second phase of solutions' design.
Fig. 2: Fishbone Diagram
3. Solutions design and implementation: Through the work done with the team, Tefen identified the specific technical and structural solutions to be implemented during the Kaizen week. While so, Tefen supported the process with several methodologies and toolkits, which drove the reasoning as well as provided concrete and applicable solutions.
For example, Tefen developed along with the team a visual indicator for the consumable materials needed for the lines. The indicator would signal the handler when the right time for materials refill would come. Another example is the re-design of the troubleshooting process; this was supported by the methodology of process-mapping on brown-papers, and had another huge result in terms of solutions for the team.
Keeping high motivation during the week was a key a success factor for the initiative: Tefen ensured it by splitting the team into sub-groups so that each employee could bring his/her ideas. Tefen also worked directly with some members, who seemed more hesitant at the beginning. This was done by using a visual dashboard, showing the next steps and achievements by each involved individual.
Outcomes and Results
Fig. 3: Pre-Kaizen vs. Post-Kaizen
By the end of the week, Tefen developed an implementation plan, inclusive of owners and deadlines, for the more medium-long term solutions which could not be finalized within the week. This plan was hung up on the lines as a reminder and a monitoring tool. The setup of a daily routine for issues handling, supported by a control board that was designed by the team, was also welcomed as a big improvement in the day-by-day activities.
The solutions identified and suggested during the Kaizen event led to an O.E.E. increase of more than 10%, along with an enhanced stability of the same parameter. Moreover, the team managed to implement ~65% of the solutions already during the Kaizen event week, which ensured high-level team engagement after the Kaizen event.
Tefen also provided assistance to the company after the end of the Kaizen week, performing two days' follow-up sessions in order to provide additional support with Lean methodologies, keep the momentum on the line, and more.
Performance Improvement, Transformation and Change Management Expert