Case Studies

Operational efficiency improvement

Change from batch production to unit flow

Project description

The Customer is an SME. The company has been producing in batches for years. They receive parts from various suppliers and assemble some parts of the product and put it in stock, for a few hours or a few days. These semi-finished products are then picked up by other employees and other parts are assembled. Again, the product is put back in stock.
In total, to assemble a product, there are 5 stages of assembling and 5 stages of inventorying.
The customer contacted us to ask if his production was effective.

Objectives

  • The objective is to review production methods to improve productivity.

Assessment and actions done

  • For a typical and representative product, observations and measurements are made for each production step and inventory time for the semi-finished products.
  • Documentation of these steps and calculation of value-added and non-value added steps.
  • Non-value tasks were 98% of manufacturing time, compared to only 2% of value-added tasks.
  • Simulations and measurements of 3 productions of the same product per unit flow including the elimination of non-value added tasks.
  • Comparison between batch and unit flow productions.
  • Implementation of the unit flow production.
  • Reorganization of the production floor.
  • Training was given to each employee.
  • Documentation sheets have been created to measure the time of each task and each production in order to maintain and improve new methods.
  • Targets and key performance indicators have been put in place.
  • Follow-ups were conducted weekly with employees and supervisors to review and maintain the new process.
 

Results

 
More than impressive results!
 
  • Reduction of manufacturing costs and the increase in gross profit per unit by more than $ 1.1 million annually.
  • The increase of production speed per unit that went from 118 seconds to 20 seconds per unit.
  • Significant improvement in production efficiency by eliminating work-in-progress (WIP) and non-value added tasks.
  • Increased employees’ teamwork, sense of belonging and motivation.
  • Improvement of ergonomics for employees.
  • Improved customer service (production is faster, deliveries are faster).
  • Increased customer satisfaction.
  • Time reduction between raw materials invoicing and finished products invoicing to customers.
  • Increased production capacity (can do more in the same time).
  • Production is more in a just-in-time mode.

Review of a process at the service level

Project description

The customer is an SME and wants to review its product return process. There is no return policy in place. Almost all returns claims are acknowledged without much scrutiny. Customers are reimbursed or another item is given in exchange.
The company therefore does not know the causes of product returns which leads to recurring credit or replacement expenses.

Objectives

  • Review and improve the management of the return process to provide operational feedback in order to reduce the recurrence of returns.

Assessment and actions done

  • Understanding and mapping the current process.
  • Financial analysis of the costs generated by the current process.
  • Identification of delays and non-value added tasks in the current process.
  • Recommendation to document each return to identify the cause and thus have data over time to analyze and reduce them.
  • Recommendation of a new documented process, which eliminates delays and non-value added tasks.

Results

  • Clear and documented process.
  • Documentation of returns in order to understand and improve them.
  • Financial gain of more than $ 600,000 annually in lost time reduction.
  • Internal improved efficiency.

Establishing production costs

Project description

The client is an SME. The company has been producing for years but has no detailed costing for each of its products.
Therefore "sold products" costs are estimated.

Objectives

  • Establish the production costs so that customer can subsequently review his selling costs.

Evaluation and actions

  • For the higher volume product, time measurement of each production step and the number of employees required.
  • Calculations of direct costs, related to production.
  • Calculations with client’s help of the indirect production costs.
  • Calculation of the raw materials’ costs.
  • Calculation of the production cost for this product.
  • Creation of a template to calculate/estimate the production costs of other products, by revising the number of people required, times and costs of raw materials.
  • Review by the customer of its selling cost.

Results

  • Following the costing of their products, the customer realized that for some products he was losing money by selling at less than the production costs.
  • Revision of prices according to manufacturing costs.
  • Increased profit by having selling prices that are no longer at loss.
  • Knowledge of his manufacturing costs.

Cleaning time reduction

Project description

The Client is a SME that packages products for other companies.  The company has tens of change overs each week, on 3 shifts.  Each changeover includes a cleaning period and equipment setups.  There are no training plans and new employees learn on the job, with their colleagues the best they can.
Tasks are not standardized and documented. One changeover can take 2X to 3X the time required depending on the experience of the employees working the shift.  This has a major impact on the production schedule and production delays occur consistently.

Objectives

  • The first objective was to standardize the cleaning tasks and time required in order to be able to better plan the production schedule.
  • The second objective was to reduce the cleaning time for each changeover.

Assessment and actions done

  • Cleanings observations were first done in order to understand what was done, on each shift.
  • No equal tasks repartition was done. Some employees were doing more than others.  Some had finished their tasks and were waiting for the others to finish.
  • With the employees’ collaboration, cleanings were categorized in four different types depending on the outgoing product before the cleaning and the next incoming product.
  • With the employees, standardized tasks by employees were identified and documented for each of the 4 types of cleaning. The goal was that everyone in the cleaning team start together and finish at the same time.
  • Trainings were given to each employee and supervisor.
  • Documentation sheets were created in order to measure the time of each cleaning task.
  • Objectives and KPI were put in place for each type of cleaning.
  • Follow ups were done each week with employees and supervisors to review and maintain the new process.

Results

Impressive results!
  • Just by standardizing and documenting the tasks, cleaning times reduced by 50 %, going down from 8 hours to 4 hours for the longest type.
  • Standardization of business processes.
  • More stable production schedule.
  • Elimination of the gray areas of responsibilities.
  • Elimination of loss of time by employees.
  • Visibility on the performance and most of all on the progress through KPI.
  • Sense of belonging of the employees.
  • Increase of ownership for the Supervisors.
  • Increase in the teamwork.
  • Increase in the collaboration and a better communication between shifts.

Review of preventive maintenance program

Project description

The client is an SME. Their approach to maintenance is unfortunately: "when it will break, it will be repaired."
A simple preventive maintenance program is in place, but inspections are often not done. A report of late tasks is sent to the maintenance supervisor every month, but production matters are prioritized and very little time is allotted to executing maintenance tasks.
As a consequence equipment breaks down daily, causing production to stop for several hours or even days. The company cannot anticipate which spare parts to have on hand and does not know the equipment that is most at risk of breaking down and create critical production halts.

Objectives

  • Review the preventive maintenance program to reduce breakages and downtime.

Assessment and actions done

  • With the help of an engineering student, the equipment list was reviewed and all the equipment were numbered.
  •  The tasks and frequencies were reviewed with the mechanics.
  • Tasks have been standardized for the same types of equipment.
  • An assessment of the risk of breakage according to the equipment has been made.
  • Performance indicators have been put in place to monitor.
  • Rigorous planning of maintenance tasks is done weekly with planning people.

Results

  • Over 155 equipment were not in the existing preventive maintenance program.
  • Increased motivation of mechanics and supervisor through their involvement in the review of this program and in the anticipation of a reduction in breakage in the medium term.
  • Knowledge of the equipment breakdown risk level by the management, which implement a replacement plan accordingly for the coming years.
  • Change in the company culture towards a preventive mode instead of a reactive mode.

SMED on a packaging line

Project description

The company is in the food business. The time required to make a changeover on one bottle line is 16 hours over 2 shifts.

Objectives

  • Review the changeovers of this packing line in order to reduce the time.

Assessment and actions done

  • Changeovers’ observations and time measurements of each task.
  • Definition of constraints and possible improvements with the implication of the mechanics on the different shifts.
  • Identification and purchase of parts, tools, and trolleys required to facilitate the changeovers.
  • To simplify changeovers a modification is identified on the casepacker. Several parts must be disassembled and others must be reassembled ("Mecano" style) to separate the guides according to bottle widths. This takes more than 8 hours. A project is identified in order to be able to adjust the width of the guides with pneumatic cylinders.
  • Training of mechanics from all shift on new changeovers.

Results

  • Changeovers passed from 16h to 8h.
  • The casepacker setup time has decreased from more than 8 hours to a few seconds! With a simple selector (a-b-c) according to the 3 formats, the guides are placed automatically.
  • Increased motivation of mechanics through their involvement.
Management coaching

Support in managing change

Project description

The company is an SME that wants to improve. The company begins a process of improving several business processes. However continuous improvement is not in its culture and will be a challenge: "Why change processes that have been in place forever and work?" Management is convinced they can do better but need help to begin the transformation.

Objectives

  • Coaching of 2 managers to start the process of continuous improvement and get their commitment and participation.

Assessment and actions done

  • Coaching sessions with managers, sharing difficulties and support scenarios to resolve them.
  • Assistance in managing change taking into account the communication challenges between departments and employee development.
  • Coaching of the management on how to address the problems encountered.
  • Training managers, employees and management on some basic principles of continuous improvement such as recognizing what has value added and what does not.

Results

  • Committed and involved managers and employees in the continuous improvement process.
  • Increased motivation of employees, managers and management.
  • Continuous improvement culture takes root during implementation.

Training plans implementation

Project description

The company is an SME that works in the pharmaceutical field. Employees are hired and trained by their colleagues on the floor. There is no formal training plans and this was noted during an Health Canada audit and emerged as an observation to be corrected. Job descriptions also need to be revised to align with training plans.

Objectives

  • Establish training plans and job descriptions for all production positions.

Assessment and actions done

  • Analysis of current job descriptions.
  • Meetings with supervisors to establish new positions, job descriptions and training plans.
  • Writing job descriptions and training plans.
  • Presentation to management.
  • Training of managers, employees and management on new descriptions and training plans.
  • Creation of a new trainer position for operators.
  • Training starts for operators according to the training plans.

Results

  • Roles and responsibilities clarified.
  • Increased motivation of employees, managers and management.
  • Increased sense of belonging among employees who are motivated to learn.
  • Sense of clarification and control of the tasks for trained operators.
  • Reduction of human errors through training.
Project Management

Automatic dessicant insertion

Project description

The Client is an SME and packages bottle products. For some products, one to five desiccants are required in the bottles to absorb moisture.
Desiccants are inserted into bottles by hand, by employees. The speed of the packing line is slowed down so people have time to put the desiccant(s) in the bottles. The employees are standing up to do this task, which is physically challenging over time. This is done on 5 different packaging lines.
Desiccants are purchased in rolls and are cut with an in-house machine before putting them into bottles. But before this can happen, desiccants must be parsed at a subsequent workstation because the equipment frequently cuts desiccants incorrectly and this, over Millions of desiccants each year.

Objectives

  • The first objective is to evaluate the purchase of pre-cut desiccants to eliminate the cutting and inspection station that has no added value.
  • The second objective is to assess whether the purchase of an automatic inserter equipment is cost-effective.

Assessment and actions done

  • Data collection for return on investment calculations is made (volume, quantity of desiccants per bottle, number of employees required, speed of lines with and without desiccants, etc.).
  • Quote request to different suppliers for pre-cut desiccants and equipment.
  • ROI calculations and project approval by management.
  • Purchase, commissioning, validation and installation of equipment successfully.

Results

Impressive results!
  • The payback period for the investments made in the improvement and improvement planning was 4 months!
  • Pre-cut desiccants were found to be cheaper than desiccant rolls.
  • Eliminating non-value tasks added to the business such as cutting and inspecting desiccants.
  • Increased production line speeds.
  • Elimination of health and safety problems.
  • Elimination of non-motivating tasks for employees.
  • Increase of employees’ knowledge by learning of a new equipment.

Factory reorganisation

Project description

The customer is an SME that wants to review the flow of their production department. The raw materials and products in progress are everywhere throughout the scattered production stations. The visible disorganization does not make a good impression on customers visiting the company. Searching for components is time consuming when preparing orders. The circulation flow in the plant is not linear and continuous.

Objectives

  • Reorganize the production floor to ensure linear flow.
  • Organize the raw materials and products in relation to production progression.

Assessment and actions done

  • Requirements analysis and brainstorming with production team to identify how to review the floor.
  • Redevelopment drawing.
  • Required equipment purchasing for redevelopment.
  • Reorganization of the different production units into work cells by product type and materials.

Results

  • Organized production floor with continuous flow.
  • Search of components elimination.
  • Increased employee motivation following their involvement in the reorganization.
  • Sense of organization and control by the production department.
Lockout Tagout and machines’ safety

Lockout Tagout program implementation

Project description

The company is a pharmaceutical multinational company. There is no Lockout Tagout program in place and they must comply with local and corporate regulations.

Objectives

  • Put in place a lockout tagout program.

Assessment and actions done

  • Lockout tagout definitions according to different cases such as:
    • Simple and multiple lockout, shift change, forgets of a padlock, responsibilities, etc.
  • Writing of the general lockout procedure.
  • Definition of what is an equipment and component.
  • Numbering and physical identification of equipment and components.
  • Creation of lockout tagout procedures by equipment.
  • Equipment modifications to simplify lockout tagout and encourage the use.
  • Following modifications update of procedures.
  • Implementation of lockout software and data entry.
  • Software support and training for those responsible of programs.
  • Project estimation and financial justification.
  • Project timeline and financial follow-up.
  • Purchasing, installation and delivery of required components, padlocks, devices, etc.
  • Training for all plant personnel.

Results

  • Implementation of the lockout tagout program in accordance with current standards.
  • Reduction of the annual CSST premium.
  • Regulatory compliance.
  • Improved health and safety culture within the company.

Machine safety program implementation

Project description

The company is a pharmaceutical multinational company. There is no machine safety program in place and they must comply with local and corporate regulations.

Objectives

  • Put in place a machine safety program.

Assessment and actions done

  • Definition of the machine safety program:
    • Risk analysis, guarding according to risks, introduction of new equipment, modifications of equipment, responsibilities, etc.
  • Writing of the general machine safety procedure.
  • Risk analysis by equipment and jobs and tasks.
  • Selection of protection levels for automated circuits according to risk levels.
  • Project estimation and financial justification.
  • Project timeline and financial follow-up.
  • Purchasing of required components and materials.
  • Safety guards modifications and installations’ work coordination.
  • Training of all plant personnel.

Results

  • Implementation of the machines’ safety program in accordance with current standards.
  • Reduction of the annual CSST premium.
  • Regulatory compliance.
  • Improved health and safety culture within the company.
Electronic Product Development

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ABOUT US

Founded in 1998, the mission of Groupe Conseil Bernier Saulnier is to make SME more efficient.

Our team is composed of high-level managers with more than 24 years of experience in various manufacturing environments and services. We have extensive experience in continuous improvement, change management and in project management.

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