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Manufacturing

A Supply Chain Case Study – Socks Manufacturing: Part 2 of 2

A socks manufacturing company in India turned to TQM to improve its supply chain. In Part One, the case study describes the process of elminating a significant cost for the company – delivery delays. This week, Part Two of the case study looks at the broadening of the application of process improvement beyond deliveries. The…

A Supply Chain Case Study – Socks Manufacturing: Part 1 of 2

A socks manufacturing company in India turned to TQM to improve its supply chain. In Part One, the case study elminates a significant cost for the company – delivery delays. Part Two of the case study looks at the broadening of the application of process improvement beyond deliveries. A fledgling socks manufacturing company in India was working to…

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FLEXcon: Lean for the Long Run

The following are selected highlights of a corporate leadership profile of FLEXcon. The complete article – with more details about Lean application and how the company avoided layoffs during the recession – is available for purchase on the iSixSigma Marketplace. FLEXcon positions itself for growth by embracing Lean at every level More than 50 years…

Team Teachings: Improving Process Operator Competency

Polymer chip manufacturing is a multi-step, large-volume process that makes hundreds of millions of pounds of products annually at a typical plant. Unlike fiber extrusion, which requires the use of multiple units of specialized equipment, chip manufacturing involves fewer machines operated in either continuous or batch modes. Chip manufacturing is often driven by operator decisions,…

Japan Disaster Rattles Manufacturers Worldwide

According to a March 24 report from Objective Analysis, nearly 25 percent of the world’s semiconductor production capacity is in Japan, as well as more than 60 percent of the silicon wafers from which semiconductor chips are created. In 2010, industry analysis firm iSuppli determined that Japan held about 35 percent of the $31.5 billion…

No Cause for Alarm: Avoiding Control Room Overload with 5S

The typical plant control room has changed dramatically over the years. Alarm management – which once was simply a sound or flashing light designed to get the control room operator’s attention – has changed dramatically, too. Many control rooms have replaced analog panel boards with multiple screens of bright and colorful representations of plant equipment….

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Streamlining the Ordering Process for U.K. Book Publisher

The publishing industry is on the threshold of major structural changes. The arrival of e-books is only the first threat, and it is having an impact sooner than expected. For example, Amazon.com sold more e-books than paper books in the first quarter of 2010. The credit crunch also has reinforced retailers’ demands for smaller, more…

Piggybacking Air Filters to Save Shipping Costs

Cummins operates three plants San Luis Potosi, Mexico, which produce and ship products daily to distribution centers in the United States. These plants produce systems such as reconditioned engines, alternators, and filtration and exhaust systems. Two of the three plants were looking for ways to reduce the high costs of trucking the products, so Rebecca…

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European Wind Project Embraces Lean

With assistance from Spanish wind-turbine manufacturer Gamesa, nonprofit foundation Tekniker and several other European technology firms, COSMOS seeks increases in turbine quality, as well as lower costs and faster manufacturing times, according to a release from Ibermática. According to the COSMOS consortium, many European turbine assembly operations involve both manual labor and work done by…

U.K. Packaging Firm Celebrates First Year of Lean Six Sigma

Based in Bardon, Leicestershire, U.K., Benson Group is one of the country’s largest carton suppliers, producing packaging for both the food and pharmaceutical industries at its 130,000-square-foot facility. The Bardon plant produces sheets of printed cardboard that is then cut and glued for use in the food industry as containers. With the adoption of Lean…

The Customer Talks Back: Musings on Call Center Efficiency

Running a call center is like handling a job interview: First impressions are critical. Good intentions do not make up for tardiness, ill-fitting clothing, dirty shoes, the inability to reasonably pronounce the interviewer’s name or ignorance about what the company does. The primary purpose of a call center is to increase the profitability of the…

Lean Techniques Help Boeing Production Take Flight

In December 2010, the company announced that it would be ramping up production of its popular 777-series wide-body jet from 5 airplanes a month to 7 per month in 2011, and again to an average of 8.3 a month in 2013. Earlier in the year, Boeing also said it would be boosting production of its…

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Brewing a Better Beer with TQM

Recently, a well-established, rapidly expanding beer company invested heavily in a modern, state-of–the-art brewing facility. The new facility dramatically improved quality and productivity, and also reduced costs through the application of new technology. As a next step, the beer company began exploring methods of achieving a further quantum jump in performance. Recognizing that technology and…

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Get Updated with Supply Chain Research

Reports released in the last several months reveal important information for supply chain managers. The first study, conducted by NPI, a spend management services firm, found the top areas of supply chain overspending. The second report, carried out by CAPS Research, a nonprofit research firm, features benchmarking data from 16 industrial manufacturers. Overspending Identified The…

E-Z-Go Accelerates Six Sigma Buy-in Through Lean

Employed with Textron for 22 years, Stern entered the continuous improvement program in 2005 as a Black Belt and has since become a Master Black Belt. She currently oversees training in Textron’s CI program and leads value stream mapping improvement workshops. Here are Stern’s thoughts about the evolution of the company’s CI efforts and how…

How Can Lean Users Sustain Gains?

How’s your Lean initiative doing? Is it going great? Or is it starting to lose steam? Or is it clearly failing to meet expectations? Have you given up and gone back to the not-so “good old days” from which you had hoped to escape? These are questions I see a lot of firms both asking…

Lean Six Sigma Remains Strong in Manufacturing

A recently released study of compensation trends at manufacturing companies across the country contained some reassuring news for quality professionals: The deployment of Lean and Six Sigma methods remains strong in the manufacturing sector. Within the more than 1,000 pages of the 2010 Compensation Data Manufacturing survey on salaries and benefits, conducted by consulting firm…

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What Manufacturers Can Learn from Transactional Companies

In the evolution of continuous improvement, the Six Sigma methodology began in the manufacturing sector and later spread to other transactional businesses. While many transactional companies, such as advertising agencies and other service-oriented organizations, still look to manufacturers to learn about the application of Lean Six Sigma, there are lessons that manufacturers can learn, as…

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Lean Six Sigma Around the Globe: Hertel – Europe

By Elaine Schmidt Headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Hertel has operations in more than 20 countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. The company offers construction, maintenance, modification and dismantling solutions at client sites, such as on- and off-shore oil and gas facilities, power plants and other specialized facilities. For Hertel employees, process…

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Using Kaizen to Gain Buy-in at Boat Manufacturer

What is the best way to gain buy-in at a manufacturer that is resistant to culture change? iSixSigma spoke with Zack Chehaitli, Master Black Belt and director of continuous improvement for Sea Ray Boat Group, about his experience with Lean Six Sigma and how he helped bring continuous improvement principles to the boat manufacturing industry…

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Focus on Inventory Management Revives Plastics Manufacturer

Roughly a year ago, plastics company PolyOne Corp., located near Cleveland, Ohio, USA, was flirting with bankruptcy. Saddled with high rising material and energy costs, excess inventory problems, production delays, and the crippling global economic downturn, PolyOne looked to a bleak 2009 after suffering $273 million in losses in 2008. In February of this year,…

Overcoming Capacity Constraints with Optimization Modeling

“Speed is survival.” That could be called the mantra for all manufacturing and service organizations in today’s uncertain and continuously changing global economy. In this example, a leading manufacturer of color picture tubes (CPTs) was posed with a survival challenge: to improve manufacturing productivity. By adopting Lean Six Sigma methods, the manufacturer was able to…

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Quality Industry Rallies Around ‘Toyota Way’

After overtaking General Motors as the world’s largest car maker in early 2009, Japan-based Toyota Motor Corp. is now facing withering criticism from its own shareholders and the U.S. Congress as a result of the accelerating and braking systems in its cars, which have led to the recall of about 9 million vehicles worldwide as…

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Medical Device Manufacturer Increases Customer Satisfaction and Profitability Through Work-out

A medical imaging device manufacturer’s profitability was severely affected by quality defects in its X-ray tube product line. In addition, customer satisfaction was suffering due to consistently missed production schedules. All of the failures were discovered at final inspection. As a result, bottom-line losses were significant, since most of the defective product was either damaged…

Read-Rite Low FPY Manufacturing Case Study

Read-Rite Philippines is the manufacturing site for the Tape Head Business Unit, and the core competency is assembly and test. Read-Rite Philippines manufactures magnetoresistive tape heads to the entry level through mid-range tape drive markets, with products such as Travan, DLT (Digital Linear Tape), SLR (Scalable Linear Recording) and SDLT (Super DLT). The Elite Sigma…

Value in Focusing Lean Six Sigma on Distribution System

Value at the point of production does not necessarily translate into value at the point of consumption. Likewise, Lean Six Sigma initiatives focused on the factory floor do not ensure that the end user is receiving that value. As a product moves through the distribution system there are many factors that can diminish its value….

Leadership Sustains High Performance in Manufacturing

How does one sustain high levels of performance in manufacturing after the first successful waves of Lean Six Sigma projects? Research done on 75 manufacturers, predominantly European, sheds light on the balance between product/process and people leadership capabilities needed to sustain high levels of performance. Of High Performers and Lagging Performers High Performers: Sustaining high…

Services Can Improve By Taking Lead from Manufacturing

Many have thought the traditional definition of quality – meeting the desired specifications of the product’s fitness for use – does not apply in the same sense in the service sector as in manufacturing. But a closer look reveals that today’s services, with a little help from technology, are similar to products in the manufacturing industry….

Reducing Costs by Controlling Raw Material Consumption

All product manufacturers are being pushed to produce the best quality products without exceeding budget. Effective resource management can be instrumental in achieving this goal. A particular textile processing mill, which dyes and prints handloom fabric predominantly used in school uniforms, decided to follow the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) approach to reduce its…

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Eight Basics of Lean Six Sigma for Manufacturing Firms

In the efforts to draw closer to customers, many manufacturers have lost focus on what should be a company’s primary success factor – profitable growth. In today’s competitive manufacturing environment, it takes more than quick fixes, outsourcing and downsizing for companies to consistently achieve their growth and profit objectives. While these options may yield temporary financial…