Client: A Food Equipment Manufacturer, USA

The Summary

A large US. food equipment manufacturer had just introduced a new oven product to markets throughout the world and had begun to experience product failures and service problems in the field. To avoid having their biggest nightmare become a reality, they hired HMC to help solve the problems before they suffered significant financial loss as well as irreparable damage to their credibility. HMC quickly identified several critical flaws, and devised and implemented design changes that could be installed in all units in the field in less than one month. They also helped implement new call handling and servicing procedures that reduced call-outs, service backlog, and response times. Laslty, the HMC team uncovered several other critical design and process flaws that through their recommendations, enabled the client to prevent other future product failures, thus providing a true long term solution.


"Although we basically hired HMC to solve a specific, immediate problem, they went above and beyond what they were hired to do by helping us to be more efficient in all areas of our company. Their holistic methodology really paid off for our company, in more ways than one!"
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"HMC was able to resolve our crisis situation so quickly because they rolled up their sleeves and actually became part of our company. They didn't just tell us how to fix the problems, they actually came in and worked with us until the problems were fixed."


The Challenge
This situation presented a number of challenges. First, there was the issue of identifying and prioritizing manufacturing, installation and user problems that caused the crisis to begin with. Secondly, there was the issue of providing timely and accurate service in the field for the malfunctioning units. Finally, there was the critical issue of solving the crisis quickly to maintain the client's reputation and credibility. These issues required a rapid, yet thorough analysis of the client's design, transportation procedures, installation, training, operational usage and field service procedures.
HMC was up for the task and was able to deliver results quickly to the client.

The Approach
In this entire consultation, HMC used its Holistic Manufacturing™ approach to identify and solve problems for this client. The analysis helped them to prioritize the problems and the solutions, which included the following:

The first priority was the lack of timely and accurate service of units in the field. Due to the high number of units involved, there was a backlog of service requests. Upon further review, the HMC team learned that there were artificial limits on the number of technicians available to work on the products and inadequate training of existing service technicians on the new units, which led to slow response times. In order to make the field units operational, the barriers to having sufficient technicians working on the products were removed and all the technicians were quickly trained on field repairs to the malfunctioning units. Call handling procedures were also looked at, which revealed a sub-optimal process. HMC recommended some procedural changes that helped increase call response and reduce the backlog of service requests. HMC also implemented a service call tracking system that helped the company track, identify, and efficiently handle all incoming service requests in a more timely and accurate manner. Moreover, they implemented a trouble shooting procedure that allowed problems to be identified during calls so that appropriate action could be taken at the earliest opportunity.

The second priority was to review and analyze the manufacturing processes for the source of the defects. In reviewing the client's production process and product development history, HMC was able to pinpoint several causes for the malfunctioning elements and consequently recommend modification improvements to the design and manufacture of the units. Additionally, the analysis uncovered other potential performance issues that were caught early enough and fixed, thus avoiding future costly service problems for the company.

HMC also looked at other factors involved in this situation, including transportation of the product, installation, and operator handling that affected field performance of the new units. They discovered many resolvable issues with these factors that contributed to the poor performance of the machines in the field. They were able to suggest improved material handling methods, design features, and better training procedures that would reduce the additional potential for ovens malfunctioning in the field.

Finally, HMC discovered that there was a lack of information about the ovens once they left the plant, including where they went and what repairs or modifications had been made. HMC recommended and helped the client develop a database tracking system to track specific ovens for future servicing and to build a product history to make future analysis of product issues easier and quicker.

The Results
By using the Holistic Manufacturing™ approach to problem solving,
HMC was able to offer this client a long-term solution-not just a quick fix to their immediate problem. HMC helped them redesign and replace the faulty switches in all of the units in the field within one month. They were also able to reduce the number of call-outs for this product by almost 70%! HMC also assisted them in reducing their backlog of service requests by 90%, from 110 units to 10, and response time from 10 days to 1 day!

This not only
solved their immediate field crisis, but also re-established the client's credibility in the marketplace and helped to thwart a major potential financial loss. In the process, the client also received other valuable insights into their production process that will yield future benefits and additional cost savings.


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