Lean Manufacturing – The Kaizen Journey

Kaizen Event #1


Focus on the first step of our manufacturing process – The shaping process & inventory of cores.

As we assembled for the first time to work together as a team for the purpose of completing a Kaizen event,  many of our team members were “in the dark” with what to expect.  After 5 exciting days, working exclusively on the Kaizen task,  we emerged energized, empowered and firm believers that this process is worth all the effort.

Our first day began with classroom training on the 5S process, visual management, and waste identification.  We spent time mapping each step, stage, & movement in the current state of our shaper and core inventory processes. The team decided we needed to focus on how to reduce machinery “change over” time, eliminate scrap, and decrease the inventory of cores on the shop floor.

We established a team to begin the 5S process covering this entire area. As a refresher from the first newsletter, the 5S process focuses on creating a simplified organization of each functional area.  5S = Sort; Straighten; Shine; Standardize; Sustain.  The goal is to eliminate all unnecessary items, clean and organize each area, & implement a plan to ensure the areas sustain the new organizational structure. The place looked absolutely fantastic when they were finished.  It was clean, inviting, organized, clutter free, and had everyone wondering when their areas would be next!  The employee morale has increased dramatically and we have been ablet o cross train with ease now that much of the confusion has been stripped away.

Our second team used the SMED philosophy to focus on reducing the time it takes to change over the shaper’s profiles. We were able to reduce the time from 42 minutes to 18 minutes. This allows us to keep less inventory on the floor because we are able to produce what is needed in a more efficient manner. They also made several custom gauges to use when changing profiles which decreased our scrap by 75%.

The third team used KANBAN principles and teachings to come up with a better layout of our core inventory, increase visual management processes, and set parameters for moving material throughout the area. The results were terrific. Our core inventory dropped 20% and we began to use a true FIFO process for managing the inventory. Anyone can now understand with a single visual assessment, what is needed without going into the computer system for answers.