Pressure Gauge Manufacturing Kaizen
Recently, 15 Brooks team members began a “kaizen” in our Pressure Gauge manufacturing cell. Kaizen, for those of you who may not know, translates into “good change” or “change for the better.” In practice, it refers to efforts of a multi-functional team working in a short-term, concentrated “blitz” fashion to realize continuous process improvement. Basically, you examine the current state of the cell operation, begin to build a vision of an improved “future state,” and then drive to get to the future state quickly (for example, improvements/results expected by the end of the week).
The main focus of the Kaizen is to identify and eliminate waste. Waste in manufacturing includes excess motion, waiting, overproduction etc. As you can imagine, lead times can be greatly improved by finding and eliminating waste during this process. Reducing lead times allows us to improve quality and delivery— two things where all customers should be happy to see improvements. Of course, we ultimately expect this process to help us grow sales and earnings for the product line.
The team defined the one-week Pressure Gauge Kaizen goals as follows:
- Establish five-day Delivery/Plan For Every Part (PFEP)
- Define standard work (# of operators/division of work)
- Create flow through process including welding
- Review/Improve layout, 5S (Sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain), visual management to include welding
- Increase capacity by at least 50% (with same direct labor)
During the five-day kaizen, the team spent one day on each of the five kaizen phases — Learning, Discovery, Improvement, Implementation and Report Out/Celebration. At the conclusion of the week, the new process was up and running and it achieved the goal of increasing production by more than 50%.
Of course there were many follow-up actions to be completed at the end of a one- week kaizen, and the kaizen mentality must continue every day. As the just realized “future state” becomes the current state, the process repeats itself to continue to realize productivity gains. It’s a never-ending process, but that is what continuous improvement is all about.
Great job Pressure Gauge Kaizen Team! Keep up the good work.