The Task: On joining the company a new car seat had gone into production in China – the output was low, rework and quality levels unmanageable. Operator commitment was low, (they could earn more money on other assembly lines) and in some cases subcontractor performance unacceptable. The product had been well received in the market place and production volumes needed to increase significantly to meet demand. I was asked to “sort it out”.
Initial Ground Work:
- To identity those people capable of leading and facilitating the project / team.
- Set-up cross-functional teams. Three teams with one leader heading all three – Assembly Line; Internal Component Production; Externally Manufacturered Components.
- Get the necessary commitment from the company president and communicate the problem and goal to everyone involved – not so easy when you are working on a Chinese assembly line.
- To observe, map the current process, measure and record – providing a datum point.
- Identify training needs.
Avg Seats Requiring Mechanical Repair (16 Daily)
Scrap Seats Per Day (2)
Avg Number Of Component Rejects (87 Daily)
Results After 11 Weeks:
Avg Seats Requiring Mechanical Repair (2 Per Week)
Scrap Seats Per Day (0)
Avg Number Of Component Rejects (3 Daily)
- Create a team using key personnel – not popular because the best people were being taken out of their everyday role
- Start to document the process:
- Map the process
- Study the individual workstations – work performed and time taken
- Set-up communication boards analysis boards – communicate actual v target
- Start to produce a training plan and matrix for each worker
- Start to balance the line from the workstation information gathered and the knowledge of the required task times (actual time / required units). This was an ongoing process, partly trial and error.
- Introduce standard work / flow charts and work instructions – employ Kaizen
- Product quality plant
- Redesign the line and make it ergonomically friendly – product sub-assemblies off-line and stored parts next to the line.
- Standardise and simplify – breakdown the process into bite-sized, equal time tasks with the method including process, check, process, check throughout the line.
- Train – make people appreciate that capacity increases require quality components in the workplace.
- Constantly observe, monitor, and verify improvements – this has to become the company culture.
- Prioritised those needing to make quality or capacity improvements.
- Visit; Assess; Resource if required.
- Help train workers; monitor; control
Rewards & Motivation: Celebration! We had a BBQ for all involved.
The Disadvantages: Our competitors benefited from the knowledge we passed on to the manufacturer.
Recommendations: We gained an improving supplier and lay the foundation to negotiate a year on year cost reduction – achieved! As well as carryout the same process at our second car seat plant in China – started but not completed due to company acquisition.