Client: Consumer Goods Manufacturer - Latin America

 

 

 

The Summary

A Consumer Goods Manufacturer in Latin America needed help solving a problem with a control variable in a segment of their production process. The problem was causing low quality in their end product and was hurting their competitiveness. HMC was hired to identify the primary causes and fix them ­ permanently. Using our unique Holistic Manufacturing methodology, HMC pinpointed the problems and recommended a comprehensive course of action. As a result, the quality index (Q) for the client jumped a whopping 58.2 percentage points, from an index of 21.8 to and index of 80.0, in just 9 months!! Furthermore, the percent of product that was out of spec dropped from 15% (out of spec but acceptable for some selected markets) to 0%.

 

The Challenge
This consumer goods manufacturer in Latin America had been making excellent progress during the last few years in almost all production measures. However, one area they needed help in was identifying the causes of the very high standard deviation in a control variable for a particular part of their manufacturing process. This problem was in turn causing them to experience a low and volatile quality index. The impact of these low quality numbers was consequently having a dramatic negative impact on the overall quality output results for the end product.

This client had heard about HMC's success in identifying and permanently solving difficult production problems, and thus contacted us to see how we might help them solve theirs. Although this type of problem is not unique to the industry of this particular client, HMC's approach was. After clearly demonstrating how HMC would apply its comprehensive methodology to identify and solve the problem, and guaranteeing to produce results, HMC was selected to work on the project.

The Approach
This particular situation was an ideal opportunity for HMC to apply it's Holistic Manufacturing methodology, a process that identifies both technological and human systems factors in sub-par production performance, to help this client solve a very perplexing problem. Our approach included a comprehensive review of their existing production process, including a thorough analysis of detailed statistical data and interviews with management and production personnel, an analysis of the process and key linkages, and a control study to identify human variability and establish a baseline best method. Specifically, for this client this approach included the following tasks:

Collect and review all available data and documentation on the specific manufacturing process in question and interview supervisors who have been involved with the work to date to capture existing knowledge.
Characterize the problem process to link process outcomes with process variables.
Conduct a 'Line under the Microscope' for a period of up to 2 weeks on two or more machines to capture detailed statistical data for analysis and obtain 3-6 months of historical data and review to identify potential drivers of high variability and develop any correlation.
Use Control Study methodology to identify human induced variability and establish a dynamic standard operating procedure.

This approach will not only help the client understand the process better, but it will also enable them to apply corrective changes that will be sustainable in the long-term. HMC believes completely in the team approach, and so several people from the client were part of the project team. This not only assists in the assessment and review of current production, but also ensures that new methodologies and adjustments that are made are learned and retained by our client. The goals of this project were as follows:

Identify primary and secondary variables that are critical to the process.
Develop a dynamic standard operating procedure against which future improvements can be measured with respect to the control variable.
Improve teamwork, which will lead to better performance and less variability.
Conduct a Control Study to identify the 'best' method of making adjustments and then standardizing these aspects between personnel in order to lead to a reduced standard deviation in the control variable.

The Results
Early in the project we identified significant differences in operating methods, a lack of ownership in machine cleaning and operation, and high rotation of personnel. Therefore we decided to reduce time spent on the "line under the microscope" (LUM) and conducted trials instead.

From the historical data we were able to establish the improvement opportunities and degree of variability between shift crews. Key findings were:

The overall improvement opportunity based on a weighted average of the Q number was 40.2 % (i.e. difference between average and good performance)
The major opportunity arises from reducing the number of VERY bad days.
The difference in performance of the two shift groups was 32.1%.
We observed with the hourly analysis a major drop in performance at the morning start-up and at shift change.

Through the use of the control study we also found a very high variability in methods and therefore significant opportunity for improvement. Operators and technical staff members had different ways of performing the adjustments during run of the machines. Of over 36 adjustments it was found that there were differences in 17 of them!

It is also essential to have a holistic program that covers the primary variables, otherwise the client is unlikely to make a significant impact on the quality number. Therefore, our recommendations to this client to resolve their quality problems included the following as well:

Gain commitment of personnel (commitment vs. compliance) to ensure everyone involved believes there to be a worthwhile goal.
Implement control study to achieve consistent operation as a basis on which to build, and to allow other improvements to be tested.
Define, train and implement comprehensive cleaning procedures to improve the MTBF of the machines and to achieve more consistent product quality
Develop improved maintenance procedures to achieve higher MTBF and lower Standard Deviation.

Based upon our findings and recommendations, the client asked HMC to help them implement these changes. Working together with the client's project team, we were able to achieve a significant growth in their Q index of almost 60 percentage points in just 9 months.

Furthermore, the percent of product out of spec dropped from 15% (out of specification but acceptable to selected markets) to 0%!

If you have a manufacturing or production process problem that you can't solve, then call on the experts at HMC. We'll not only help you solve your problem ­ we'll guarantee it!

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