Lean Works: II

America's Scrappiest Carmaker Just read this article from Business Week. Hard to believe that an automotive manufacturer can elminate 98% of its physical waste. Great read though. My favorite quote from the article...

SIA workers get bonuses (grand prize: a new Subaru Legacy) for pointing out excess packaging and processes that can be cut from the assembly line and then rebated by suppliers. All the savings are effectively plowed back into plant operations—and overtime.


5S - II: Selective Soldering Station

We've begun our processes of applying the 5S principles to our entire factory. We're going to take this slow and be methodical about implementing 5S. To begin with, we started at our selective soldering station. This was an obvious fit because things had gotten out of control, as you can see in this picture. Selective Soldering Station - Before


This was in the middle of a changeover, so normally it's not quite so messy, but it makes for a nice dramatic picture. Either way, it certainly wasn't very organized. So we applied the 5S principals. Which are Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. We began with Sort. This basically required us removing everything from the workstation and setting it aside so that we could Shine. Here's a picture in process.

Selective Soldering Station - In Process

As you can see we completely removed every item from the workstation and you can see the glisten that remains from having washed down the bench really well. You can also see our pegboard that we're about to use to make a shadow board. We mounted the pegboard to the bench and hung all of the tools necessary for this workstation. Once we were happy with our layout we went ahead, traced out each tool, and colored in each area to create a shadow of where each tool belongs. Here's a picture of the result

Selective Soldering Station - After

And in the following picture you can see exactly what happens when one tool is being used.

Selective Soldering Station - Shadow

As you can see, the hot gloves have been removed and their shadow remains on the board, telling the operator exactly what's missing and where it belongs. This is going to save our operators an enormous amount of time. Now they'll have access to all of their necessary tools without having to search for them, and they'll be able to keep their area nice and clean without hardly any effort at all.

This is really exciting stuff for us here at WAi. We're going to go ahead and standardize this type of setup for all of our operations. Surface Mount Technology, SMT Inspection, Automated Thru-Hole Insertion, Hand Insertion, Post Selective Soldering, Board Washing, Post Board Washing, Final Inspection and Shipping. We'll be sure to keep posting pictures and descriptions of our changes.

Selective Soldering Station

Mass MEP

Mass MEP is a great organization and we’ve had the pleasure of having them spend the day with us today, helping us develop our Value Stream Map. It was a little painful, as we discovered a lot of our issues. But also very exciting because we can finally see areas where we could really improve our process, cut our cycle times, and become more profitable. I wrote down no less than 12 different projects I’d love to get started working on all at once. But of course that’s not possible. So we’ll take one step at a time. First thing’s first, organizing our employees tools. Think “Shadow Board”. I’ll take some before and after pictures and post them on the blog as we get there.


Lean Works: I

This will be an ongoing series of successful lean manufacturing stories, articles, interviews, etc, where domestic manufacturers have implemented lean manufacturing techniques and have been rewarded for their effort. Follow the link below to learn how Vermont Castings won business back from China. My favorite quote from the article

On his first day as the company’s new general manager, Howe noted, he was approached by an employee, who told him, “I have this idea to shorten the time it takes for this job.”

The result, according to Howe, turned an eight-hour process into a 25-minute one.