Pain, No Gain:
An account of Kaizen at O-Cedar Brands, Inc.
in my mind is the moaning and groaning of some of the Twist ‘N Mop™
workers before (and after) one of O-Cedar Brands, Inc. most successful
kaizen events. I
can’t begin to tell you the number of times I heard the phrases, “This
is not going to work”, or “Just wait, we’ll change things back to
the way they were.” Complaining
aside for a moment, the kaizen event was extremely successful in terms of
improvements to productivity, staffing, floor space used and quality.
you’re waiting for the ‘right time’ to launch a kaizen program,
there is no ‘right time’. No
one invites change. There
will be those who will thoroughly embrace the effort and those who are
content with their routine. To
be successful in promoting kaizen, you have to be up to the task of
converting non-believers into believers and believers into leaders.
I want to share with you my experience of a results-producing
(however painful) kaizen event that took place at an organization that
changed their way of operating using a ‘lean’ approach.
things first, I consulted with the Operations staff to select a production
line that would endure a kaizen team ‘invasion’.
Some avoided me, familiar with the routine.
Production supervisors knew that an eager kaizen team spending four
solid days in their area making changes to the process would be a major
disruption to productivity until a new work rhythm established.
They also knew that their workers would bark about the changes.
I understood how they felt and secretly had my own anxieties
knowing the pains that were expected during the event.
But that didn’t stop me because I knew the result would mean
remarkable gains for O-Cedar and empowered workers.
Our kaizen events gave our workers freedom to make immediate
changes to their processes without restrictions, where their voice counted
and where they grew from the experience into an even more valuable
employee. This time,
O-Cedar’s #1 selling product, Twist ‘N Mop, was chosen as the lucky
line for a kaizen event.
team members were trained to identify manufacturing wastes, conduct
time-studies, chart cycle times in order to identify bottlenecks and
implement other elements of kaizen. After
training, I gathered the team in a circle and wished them luck in their
four-day journey, and assured them they would generate positive results to
O-Cedar’s Twist ‘N Mop™
line. The energy of the team
was turned on and they were anxious to get out to the shopfloor for an
observation period. They
gathered their toolkits consisting of stopwatches, tape measures, cameras
and the most important tools: their
eyes and ingenuity.
observation, the team found that the labor-intensive process consisted of
five basic tasks: 1) mophead
winding, 2) coning, 3) mop/handle assembly, 4) packaging and 5) boxing.
The team recorded data about the current production situation:
total number of work-in-process units, total floor space utilized,
manufacturing lead time (the time for a mophead to travel through the
process and piles of WIP until it was boxed), operator cycle times,
operator walking distance and other measures.
The team worked to gather this important baseline information,
otherwise known as the “Current Situation” to identify problems and
develop potential solutions.
team anxiously awaited my arrival and bombarded me with their exciting
voices calling out the non-value added activities they had witnessed in
the TNM process as if they had never seen the process before. Actually, they hadn’t truly seen the process.
It was at that moment that I knew their eyes had opened.
I could practically hear the ideas churning inside their minds.
primary problem they identified was this:
There was not a ‘true’ production flow.
The process was organized by operations (headwinding in one area,
coning in another and assembly in yet another) which naturally
disconnected the process and generated enormous amounts of work-in-process
(WIP). In other words,
traditional batch-production was occurring.
Much of the WIP made by these ‘departments’ was getting stored
in the warehouse. In fact,
the team found that there were enough mopheads in storage to shut down
headwinding for a week. As a
result of batch production, the team identified two additional problems:
1) line changeovers were an absolute nightmare, shutting down the line for
long periods and leaving the entire production line idle and 2) the work
load was unbalanced, leaving some operators with idle time on their hands.
team had found the problem, but now had to find a solution. After
brainstorming for a while, the team had come up with some truly inventive
ideas, some smaller in scale than others. But one idea was going to completely
change how Twist ‘N Mops™ were processed. Their solution?
Implement the one-piece flow concept and eliminate the batch
processing that was generating excessive amounts of WIP.
They wanted to synchronize the operations in a cellular fashion so
one cell could produce one type of Twist N Mop and another cell could
produce something different, simultaneously.
By doing this, they were building in great flexibility in a process
that had very little.
3 and 4
calculating cycle times and charting the information, the team learned how
to configure one cell with a balanced workload: Three mop winders, one
coner, one mop assembler, one boxer. Now, the team wanted to test their
theory. The team planned to rearrange the entire work area and construct
four cells that operated in a one-piece flow fashion. They communicated
this plan to the supervisor and department workers and were faced with
some resistance-- and a great deal of comments like “This will never
work.” A meeting was called
with the TNM department to discuss the changes that were about to take
place. After much discussion,
the department accepted the idea of creating one cell to test the theory.
After the cell was setup, the team quickly found areas that needed
improvement, but the theory worked! The team worked at a hurried pace to
setup the remaining cells in time for second shift production. Additional
improvements were made to the work cells, which resulted in the need for a
single boxing operator per two cells which was an improvement to crew
size. The team was successful with their plan, and rushed off to document
their results for Friday’s presentation to management.
team was happy to report the following results to management:
work-in-process inventory by 54%
Manufacturing Lead Time by 92%
Operator walking distance by 92%
total travel distance for parts by 75%
Operator Cycle Time increased by 19%
crew size by 13%
knew this was an incredible Kaizen event. But you know what, the previous
Twist ‘N Mop™ kaizen team thought the same thing.
For more information on MTTC's Kaizen and Shopfloor Organization
contact Aimee Cecil [email protected].