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Herding Cats Using Lean Six Sigma: How to Plan for and Manage the Chaos of Parallel Processes - GoLeanSixSigma.com

John Pettit’s project is a great example of how effective Lean Six Sigma can be in helping all sizes and types of organizations. John volunteered his time and experience to help a local non-profit organization remove waste in their process thereby allowing them to increase the overall capacity of the services they provide which therefore yield additional revenues to help the people they serve. Congratulations to John in clearly demonstrating his knowledge of the Lean Six Sigma methodology and tools and using his expertise to help others.

– Craig Tickel, GoLeanSixSigma.com Master Black Belt Coach

Project Charter

Problem Statement

LH ships between 1,200 and 1,400 Stuff Sack ship sets per month. The true cycle time is not known. Monthly production needs to hit 3,000 by the end of August, and 6,000 some time early 2018. Management does not have the information necessary to assess if these production targets and timeline can be met.

Goal Statement

To determine the production capacity needed to generate part cycle times below 180 seconds (takt time @ 3,000) by Aug. 31st, and 90 seconds (takt time @ 6,000) by a date TBD.

Scope

  • Start: Work order by part or ship set
  • End: Work order parts packed, palletized and ready to transport to Shipping Dept.
  • In: Part work order, materials, process steps and WIP.
  • Out: Ship sets of (1) PJ Flaps Assy. SS96-032, (2) PJ Patch Web/Buckle Assy. SS96-031, (1) Bottom Panel SS96-028, (1) Top Strap SS96-033, (1) Body Panel SS96-027

Business Case & Benefits

Not meeting these production targets will jeopardize a substantial long term revenue stream for both companies.

Timeline

PhasePlannedActual
Define05/27/201706/15/2017
Measure 06/02/201707/01/2017
Analyze06/09/201707/10/2017
Improve06/16/201707/14/2017
Control06/20/201707/15/2017

Team Members

PositionPersonTime Commitment
Team LeadJohn Pettit75%
SponsorBrent Weichers10%
Team MemberStuff Sack Area Lead20%
Team MemberJob Coach20%
Team MemberShop Floor Rep20%

Operational Definitions

Key Terms (Specific to The Lighthouse for the Blind)

  • LH: The Lighthouse for the Blind
  • Stuff Sack: Stuff Sack is a water proof sack used to compress and keep dry a sleeping bag used in the field. It consists of 5 components: 1) Patch Web/Buckle Assembly (Assy.), 2) Bottom Panel, 3) Body Panel Assy., 4) Top Strap Assy., and 5) PJ Flap Assy
  • Primary Contractor: Organization that subcontracted LH to produce component parts of the Stuff Sack, that they in turn, assemble into a Stuff Sack
  • Ship Set: A set consists of the five component parts of a Stuff Sack shipped at the same time as a set
  • DoD: Department of Defense
  • Support Staff: LH personnel providing low skill services that are not assigned to Stuff Sack, but available as needed

Key Terms

  • Takt Time is the rate (rhythm) at which a finished product needs to be completed in order to meet customer demand
  • Cycle Time (CT) is the actual time it takes to complete a process from start to finish to produce one unit (one cycle of operation). An employees cycle time must meet takt time(with an appropriate buffer of safety time)
  • Process is the series of steps required to produce a product
  • WIP refers to raw materials, labor and overhead costs incurred for products that are at various stages of the production process
  • Ship Set is a complete set of all parts required to assemble (1) stuff sack

Stuff Sack Process Flow

Stuff Sack Process Flow - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Stuff Sack consists of (6) non-sequential processes, with PJ Flap being the most complex and time consuming

PJ Flap Process Flow Diagram

PJ Flap Process Flow Diagram - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: PJ Flap includes (4) parallel process, with the critical path represented by red boxes

Data Collection Plan

Data Collection Plan - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Data Collection Form

Data Collection Form - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Used median times, with hi and lo times eliminated. Cycle times estimated for the production of (1) unit

Total Cycle Time by Stuff Sack Part

Total Cycle Time by SS Part – (1) Ship Set

Q: How do we know what it takes to meet customer demand?

A: Cycle Time Analysis

Cycle Time by Stuff Sack Part - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Total Cycle Time by Part - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: 20-25 minutes to produce (1) ship set

Cycle Time Analysis – 3K Ship Sets Per Month

Level 1 Analysis: SS Cycle Time by Part (3K)

Level 1 Analysis: SS Cycle Time by Part (3K) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Reducing PJ Flap and Patch WB cycle times are critical to success

Level 2 Analysis: PJ Flap Cycle Time by Function (3K)

Level 2 Analysis: PJ Flap Cycle Time by Function (3K) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Sewing function appears to not meet customer demand

Level 3 Analysis: PJ Flap Cycle Time by Process Step (3K)

Level 3 Analysis: PJ Flap Cycle Time by Process Step (3K) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Process cycle times meet Takt Time required at 3K/Mo.

3K Load Analysis, 100% Cross- Trained Staff

  • Assume employees skills sets are interchangeable
  • Does not recognize that employees have a different array of capabilities
  • (8) employees with room to spare under Full Takt Time
  • Test skill qualifications for each skill

3K Load Analysis, 100% Cross-Trained Staff - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: (8) 100% cross-trained employees required

3K Load Analysis, Current Staff Size, Skills & Equipment

  • Load allocations reflect operator specific training
  • (12) employees required
  • (2) sewing station operation at 62% of Full Takt Time
  • (1) Two-person team RF Sealer
  • (1) Two-person team Sonic Welder
  • Higher levels of cross-training would allow more efficient use of staff
  • Adding (1) sighted employee would free- up Faiza & Ernie for monitoring production and cross-training

3K Load Analysis, Current Staff Size, Skills & Equipment - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Meeting 3K/Month production target is doable with existing shifts, personnel, skills and equipment

Cycle Time Analysis – 6K Ship Sets Per Month

Level 1 Analysis: SS Cycle Time by Part (6K)

Level 1 Analysis: SS Cycle Time by Part (6K) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: The cycle time of 4 of 6 Stuff Sack parts exceed Full Takt Time, with PJ Flap and Patch WB needing the most improvement

6K Load Analysis, 100% Cross-trained

  • 18-20 100% cross- trained employees required
  • (3) sewing station for PJ Patch
  • High need skills: Sew PJ Patches, Sew PJ Web loops, Part Marker
  • 2nd Shift (4 employees) for RF Sealer and Sonic Welder; possibly (2) solo operators
  • Adding (1) sighted employee is essential to perform tasks requiring visual inspection: Slitter, Inspection

6K Load Analysis, 100% Cross-trained - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Additional personnel and cross training are required

6K Load Analysis, Current Staff Size, Skills & Equipment

  • Personnel skills is a barrier to load leveling
  • (3) sewing station for PJ Patch
  • High need skills: Sew PJ Patches, Sew PJ Web loops, Part Marker
  • 2nd Shift (4 employees) for RF Sealer and Sonic Welder; possibly (2) solo operators
  • Adding (1) sighted employee is essential to perform tasks requiring visual inspection: Slitter, Inspection

6K Load Analysis, Current Staff Size, Skills & Equipment - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Additional personnel and cross training are required

Challenge Skill Criteria

Criteria: Slitter-sheeter machine operator needs to be fully sighted

  • Q. Why does a slitter-sheeter operator need to be sighted?
  • A. Because cause they have to visually inspect material for flaws.
  • Q. Why is visual inspection of the material needed?
  • A. Because the operator needs to see potential flaws.
  • Q. Why does it need to inspected at the slitter?
  • A. It doesn’t, it just needs to be inspected.

Solution: Install flaw detecting cameras on light table or have inspection done by sighted employee

Key Takeaway: Drilling down of skill requirements can lead to unanticipated alternative solutions to cross-training, e.g. technology, changes in standard work

Walk Time and Layout Design Analysis

Stuff Sack Spaghetti Map – Before

Stuff Sack Spaghetti Map (Before) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: A picture is worth a 1,000 words

PJ Flap Spaghetti Map – Before

Issues:

  • No organic flow between work stations
  • Presence of other departments disrupts flow and increases walking distances
  • Bulk WIP dispersed throughout department
  • Remote work stations preclude monitoring & increase walking distances

PJ Flap Spaghetti Map (Before) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: PJ Flap traffic pattern is representative of the department

PJ Flap Spaghetti Map – After

  • Positioned equipment to reflect organic flow of WIP
  • Centralized bulk WIP rack
  • Introduced concept of a “Milk Run” for supplying materials and picking up completed work
  • Dedicated space for pallets and boxes
  • (2) dedicated strapping stations
  • (2) assembly/sort work stations not open surface tables
  • Timely pick up of completed work orders assigned to Shipping Dept.

PJ Flap Spaghetti Map (After) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Centralized WIP and “Milk Run” clean up traffic patterns

Walking Study Approach & Methodology

  • Current work stations are lean to accommodate Blind operators
  • Insignificant non- value added operator motion
  • Walk distance impacts material handler
  • Walking distances stepped off based on process flow diagrams
  • Frequency of trips estimated by Supervisor

Walking Study Approach & Methodology - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: Operator motion is limited. Reducing wasted motion will not have a direct impact on the Stuff Sack cycle time

Walking Distance Before and After Proposed Layout – 6K/Mo.

All Parts:

  • 77% reduction in walking distance across all Stuff Sack components
  • 11 miles less walking for 6K ship sets
  • Frees up 11 hrs. for value-added activities

Highlight:

  • 96% reduction for PJ Flap
  • 78% reduction for Patch Web/Buckle

Stuff Sack Walking Distance - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Key Takeaway: (11) additional hours for value-added activities, e.g., monitoring production, cross training & troubleshooting

Bonus Improvements

Assembly & Sorting Work Station (Design Stage)

  • Currently assembly / sorting functions are performed on 10’ foldable tables that are too high for sitting and too low for standing
  • Large open surfaces tend to attract clutter and are often used for unintended purposes
  • Work stations specifically designed for assembly and sorting will be motion efficient and ergonomically designed
  • Prefer standing design
  • Existing work stations might be repurposed for Stuff Sack

Assembly & Sorting Work Station (Design Stage) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Strap Cutter Loader (Implemented)

  • Original process involved loading a reel between the two wheels using a thin rod as the axel, then suing small clamps on each side. This process was performed on the floor (poor ergonomics)
  • Since there was only (1) stand only 1 of 2 web cutters could be in simultaneous operation
  • Original process took 17 min, the same as the time it took to run a cycle of strap cutting

Strap Cutter Loader (Implemented) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Strap Cutter Loader (Continued)

  1. The new Web Reel Holder feeds the material at the correct height. There are 2 loaders to allow both cutters to run simultaneously
  2. The white plastic discs that hold the reel in place are replaced by clear plastic to allow the employee to see when the reel is about to run out (currently being manufactured)
  3. The gas shock lifts the loading arm when the reel runs out. The locking latch holds the arm down when running

Strap Cutter Loader (Implemented) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Strap Cutter Loader (Continued)

  1. The“donut”allows for the two different size of reels to be loaded on either stand
  2. A ruler was mounted on the loader to check proper length
  3. New process time is 50 seconds, which is a reduction of 16 minutes, 10 seconds

Strap Cutter Loader (Implemented) - GoLeanSixSigma.com

“Milk Run” Cart

  • Erratic and frequent sewing station replenishment and finished product pick- ups are significant contributors to wasted motion
  • Introduction of a “Milk Run” dramatically reduces wasted motion
  • Milk Run 4x daily

"Milk Run” Cart - GoLeanSixSigma.com

New Staffing / Takt-Load Leveling Tool

New Staffing / Takt-Load Leveling Tool - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Automated Operator Standard Work Sheet

Automated Operator Standard Work Sheet - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Production Monitoring Form & Process

  • Currently production is measured on a work order basis and does not accurately measure process cycle time
  • Some work stations are equipped with manual or electronic counters
  • Actual real-time production is not captured and monitored
  • A new production monitoring form will be posted at each work station
  • Supervisor monitors & manage production through out the day
  • Create and maintain “Run Charts” to track individual and department performance

Production Monitoring Form & Process - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Observations & Recommendation

  • Issue work orders on a ship set basis
  • PJ Flap critical path must be protected
  • Limit Supervisor production time to allow more time for value-added management activities, e.g. monitoring production, troubleshooting, cross training
  • Maximize cross training opportunities based on ability
  • Re-make defective bottom cutter die to eliminate gap
  • Create multi-piece dies for patches and pockets
  • Set-up and clean up should be performed by work station operators
  • Modify In and Out bins at RF Sealer work station to keep production consistent with target production quotas
  • Allocate completed work order pick-up to Shipping Dept.
  • Designated spaces/equipment should be limited to intended use
  • Reduce WIP storage to increase process velocity
  • Control quantities produced by binning materials based on planned daily output.
  • Replace (2) work tables with (2) work stations specifically design for part assembly and sort

Already Implemented:

  • Create Strap Cutter Loader
  • Activate 2nd strap cutting machine
  • Mount strap measuring rule on strap cutter

Project Storyboard

John Pettit

John Pettit is an independent management consultant providing strategic-business planning and process improvement services. He is a strategic thinker who loves to learn, explore and create way to make things work better. He has a passion for coaching work teams to see how their process(s) work and helps them determine how to reduce waste and variability to increase value to both internal and external customers.

Craig Tickel

Craig is a Senior Consultant at GoLeanSixSigma.com and a Master Black Belt with over 25 years of success working with companies like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Stepan Company. He’s an expert at helping people learn and apply Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.