Case Studies

Problem:

The production facility was spending over $90,000 annually to dispose of 1.9 million pounds of waste into landfills. Some recycling was taking place but cost over $12,000 annually.  The issue is to reduce the landfill waste, increase what can be recycled, and get paid for the recycling.

Approach:

The team discussed how going green should, could, and would be a benefit to their facility. The initial thought was to consider the general mass balance equation.

Inputs + Production Activities = Output for Customers + Accumulated Waste

The team applied the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC problem solving approach. They Defined the problem, Measured the Inputs, Outputs, and Accumulated Waste, conducted Analysis to detemine what could be recycled and what had to go into the landfill, used creativity techniques to brainstorm what could be done to Improve, and then detemined the measures that would Control what was supposed to happen to the waste being generated. After going through the detailed analysis the team found that over 90% of what had been going to the landfill could be recycled. The reason why turned out to be that there was no plan or way to accumulate the recylable materials that was easier than just throwing everything into the dumpster.

Solutions and Results:

The team identified all of the materials that could be recycled and then worked with Waste Management Inc to organize the process to make it easy to execute. This included specific receptacles for specific materials. An education program was developed to train everyone on what is to be recycled and what truly is landfill waste.  The team saved over $70,000 in annual waste removal costs and over $12,000 in recycling costs. The cost to recycle became free by identifying the companies that wanted the materials, would provide the receptacles, and haul the recycle to their facilities.

Problem:

The powder painting process for metal boxes and their components had the following issues:

  • Required 3 shifts seven days per week and could not meet demand.
  • Painting quality was poor, rework required sandblasting before painting a 2nd time
  • Color change overs took more than 4 hours to complete
  • Chemical spray treatment required hazardous waste removal weekly

Approach:

The team applied Lean, Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED), Quality Cost, Quality Function Deployment (QFD), and Design of Experiments (DOE) to solve the multiple issues within the Powder Painting Process.

  • Value stream mapping identified the points of inventory build up, processing and cycle times, non-value adding activities, production scheduling issues, and processing bottlenecks.
  • SMED was applied to color change overs to dramatically reduce the time.
  • Quality costs were applied to build the business case and track the savings from the improvements.
  • QFD was used fully understand customer requiremetns and to narrow the field of potential variation contributors in the overall process for optimal application of DOE.
  • DOE was used to determine the optimal operating parameters for quality and efficiency of the powder painting process.

Solutions and Results:

The following solutions were implemented with associated results:

  • A production scheduling system was implemented based upon due date and color of the components.
  • The color change over process was re-designed and the time was reduced from over 4 hours per change to less than 30 minutes.
  • The DOE resulted in defining the important process variables and their operating windows. The chemical spray treatment was eliminated and the hazardous waste removal cost. The paint line speed was increased for 3 feet per minute to 7.5 feet per minute (maximum line speed) and quality defects were virtually eliminated.

Overall results included a shift reduction from 3 down to 1 without overtime meeting all customer scheduling demands. Wasted paint was dramtically reduced. Total savings was $225,000 per month or $2,700,000 annual savings.

Problem:

A decentralized approach to sourcing has made it difficult for the organization to leverage purchased components spend into maximum cost savings. The current situation results in excess costs through duplication of efforts and a lack of standardization in the purchasing processes and practices being used. Currently supply chain management is focused on tactical execution versus a strategic view that looks to reduce cost and improve supply chain performance by continually evaluating opportunities to optimize sourcing leverage across the operating business units.

Approach:

Form a cross functional team that will apply the principles of Process Design for Six Sigma DMADV. The Define Phase is project requirements definition, the Measure Phase is customer requirements definition, the Analyze Phase is conceptual process design, the Design Phase is detailed process design, and the final phase is Validate which is the verification, testing, and full implementation of the new process design.

The functional requirement was to provide a system that drives value based strategic sourcing of products and services by negotiatiing cost, managing delivery performance, and implementing common processes for efficient and cost effective execution of the global supply chain satisfying both internal and external customer requirements.

Solutions and Results:

The following processes were designed and the supporting IT solutions were outlined in detail.

  • Supplier Communincation
  • Strategic Sourcing
  • Supplier Performance Measurement and Monitoring
  • Supplier Qualification
  • Supplier Strategic Improvement
  • Product Specification Management
  • Product Standardization Across Business Units
  • Sourcing Leverage, Optimization, and Consolidation
  • Long Term Forecasting of Purchased Components
  • Supplier Financial Stability Analysis
  • Long Term Component Cost Analysis

The savings impact is measured in hundreds of millions in dollars.

Problem:

Lessons learned from the field were not incorporated into the correct training programs in a timely manner. The current state took over 9 months for lessons learned to be vetted and then included in the correct training curriculum at the correct school house to properly prepare the troops before going into harms way.

Approach:

Build a team representing the major school houses throughout the Army to evaluate the lessons learned vetting process, course identification, and course implementation. The Lean Six Sigma DMAIC methodology was applied.

  • Deployment process mapping was applied and value add and non value add analysis was conducted.
  • Processing and cycle times were determined.
  • Leadership Command was interviewed to determine the Voice of the Customer and the requirements from a time delivery standpoint. Vetting should be no more than 30 days.  Incorporation into courses at the correct locations should be no more than 30 days.  The intial process sigma given these requirements was zero.
  • Creativity techniques were applied to develop potential solutions and FMEA was used to stress test potential solutions to identify the ones with the best chance of actually working.
  • New processes were designed and pilot tested at 3 school houses to prove the viability of the solution before rollout.

Solutions and Results:

The new vetting process conveting a lesson learned in the field into an actionable item in 6 days or less.  Trainer notes were used as the vehicle to rapidly incorporate the lessons learned into the correct courses at the correct school houses on a global basis. Actionable items were incorporated into the appropriate courses on a global basis within 6 days or completing the vetting process.  The overall process is completed in 12 days or less, versus the 9 months it took before the operations excellence improvements were implemented.  The final process sigma level was over 7.  The savings are measured in lives and there is no dollar value for that.

Problem:

Diplex filters are used in the amplifiers at about every mile of cable for high speed internet, phone, and interactive television programming.  The diplex filter allows for a separation of the low frequency and high frequency radio frequency (rf) signals to be transmitted over the single pipe of the cable. The filter facilitates the ability to two communications to take place over cable, sending and receiving.  Precise tuning of the filters assures that the demilitarized zone between Low and High frequencies is consistant within a specified frequency range.  The issue comprised the following:

  • Tuning at the filter level was taking well over 1 hour per filter and was not consistant.
  • No clear specification for the required waveform existed to for the tuning of the filter
  • Filters would not plug and play within an amplifier requiring a day of swapping filters and testing until the amplifier was tuned properly.

Approach:

A team was assembled that included design engineering, production engineering, line supervisors, and production, quality, and testing personnel. The initial activity was process mapping to understand the suppliers, the inputs they provided, the individual process steps, the outputs, and the customers both internal and external. Quality Function Deployment (QFD) was used to identify and prioritize both visual and functional requirements for both the diplex filters and the amplifiers. FMEA, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, was used to identify the process steps that had the highest chance of creating issues during production.  To develop an official "gold standard" for the diplex filter waveform from 0-1.5 GHz known acceptable amplifiers had each of there 4 diplex filters removed and tested to capture the waveform. This was done for 25 amplifiers. The average wave form value was determined at increments of 5 Hz from 0-1.5 GHz and this became the gold standard. QFD was then used to narrow the field of potential variation contributors to achieving the desired quality characteristics for the optimal application of Design of Experiments (DOE).  The DOE focused on the wrapping and wire locations of the 10 torroids on the diplex filter.  Adjustment of the wrapping and position of the windings is how the tuning was accomplished for each filter.

Solutions and Results:

  • The "gold standard" for the frequency waveform was implemented on all oscilliscopes used for testing.
  • The DOE identified which torroids and where to wind them would best achieve the target value of the "gold standard" at each increment of the frequency range. Taguchi's Target Signal to Noise performance metric was applied to accomplish the analysis.  The result was how to wind and adjust each torroid if adjustment was required.
  • Diplex filters could now be tuned in less than 1.5 minutes each and they would plug and play in any combination in any amplifier.
  • Amplifier tuning was reduced to the 20 minute test cycle.
  • Total labor savings was in excess of $500,000 annually in a factory in Mexico.

Problem:

A flooring manufacturing company was paying over $3 million dollars annually in customer claims.  Unless something was changed the cost of claims was likely to increase or at best stay the same.

Approach:

A team was formed and trained in the Lean Six Sigma DMAIC problem solving process. The team was given 12 weeks to complete this important project with a management goal of at least a 5% reduction in annual claims cost, or approximately $150,000. The team used Deployment Process Mapping to get started and identified the waste and bottlenecks within the process. The Voice of both the internal and external customer were evaluated to gain a full understanding of requirements. It quickly became apparent that the process was not consistantly followed nor was the documentation to intitiate a claim properly filled out.  All of which added to the length of adjudicating a claim and the fairness of a claim for both the customer and the company.

Solutions and Results:

  • A standardized claims managment process was defined with work instructions for all processing steps.
  • Training was developed for executing the process.
  • Training was developed for all applicable employees in the diagnosis of defects and the responsible party, whether the manufacturer, the installer, or the end user of the floor.
  • Samples and photographs were developed to aid decision making.
  • Common claims forms with photographic requirements were created.
  • A process to use third party evaluators for large complex claims was also developed.

After implementation of the improvements the team exceeded the management expectations for a 5% cost reduction and delivered $500,000 in savings for over 16% in cost reduction.

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