Font Size
Topic Adapting to Lessons Learned in Project

Adapting to Lessons Learned in Project

Home Forums General Forums Implementation Adapting to Lessons Learned in Project

This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Mike Carnell 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • Author
  • #705796 Reply


    I’m currently 5 months into a project looking at improving production on an automated stitching cell. When I started there was a backlog of around 250,000 parts with an output of 9000/day and production orders of around 300,000 per month. You can see straight away this was a losing formula. The cell mechanically was capable of 13,000 a day but due to excessive downtime it never reached this goal.

    The cell itself stitches two parts on different carousels that meet on a central conveyor. There are around 60 stations involved in this process and the interaction between both halves of the machine mean there is regular downtime. When the machine runs one part only it runs better as expected. There were mechanical upgrades that were planned but due to production pressures (short sighted) were not implemented for over a year. To cut a long story shorter these have been fitted and the cycle time of the machine has been reduced and today the backlog is within reach over the next few weeks.

    BUT- Variation has not reduced, not enough that I feel confident in the process. Sources of variation I know of :

    Technician skills/motivation – Some of the guys that work on the machine are great, highly skilled and knowledgeable and are keen to run it well. Others, especially on nightshift, aren’t as interested. If it’s putting out parts, regardless of scrap levels, then they leave it. Even though the scrap levels are indicating that something has changed or went wrong.

    Inputs – Obvious of course, material variability. We stamp plate and mould all in house, so the internal customer chain in my opinion is nowhere near as robust as the chain to external customers. Therefore bad metalwork from stamping or bent legs from plating are enough to drive scrap up, stick punches and cause misfeeds. We are just PPAPing a new mould tool that will reduce the plastic variation, that will cut a swathe out of our scrap.

    Understanding of station interactions and their effects – I don’t think the technicians know their machine well enough to identify root causes. Time and again they will adjust the pick and place of pins before checking the metalwork going in, so we end up with bad materials making bad parts and downtime events.

    Other factors :

    Planned maintenance – We’re still a fire-fighting organisation. Despite the benefits of planned maintenance and showing results from improvements made during planned downtime, the production team will not allow scheduled downtime until the backlog is clear. This is a matter of weeks away hopefully but I’m personally worried they’ll then build a backlog. A week or two buffer i can understand, we have confirmed orders for large quantities for over a year, but my worry is they will watch planned maintenance/trials occur in planned downtime and if the machine then goes down with special cause outside of this time they will be reluctant to allow it again.

    Once the problem subsided to where it is now focus switched to the next fire. So of course now they’re seeing the backlog lifting and are throwing out ideas for the next project when this one is still in dire need of work.

    I may be wrong but I can’t see any glaring mechanical errors with the machine itself. The one anomaly I do notice is every so often the machine will go hammer and tongs for a shift or two, record high 90s OEE then just crash with multiple problems. I’m trying to work out if this is coincidental or the sign of a deeper problem we’re unaware of.

    If I could go back to the start I’d ideally focus my efforts upstream first, eliminating bad metalwork from stamping, eliminating poor handling in plating, facilitating the transition to a new tool in moulding, then focussing on the machine. But we don’t get what we like I suppose. I guess what I’m after is advice on where I should be going at the moment. As this is the twilight phase of a project I don’t want to suddenly say I want a few more months to address problems elsewhere. Should I set up the other issues as separate problems and assign Green belts? They’re mid training at the moment so i worry it’s a bit much to bite off. I don’t feel completely lost, but I’m fretting a little. Any advice or questions, please don’t hesitate to fire away.

    #705818 Reply

    I don’t think you should assign separate problems to green belts at this point. While they may be able to make some improvements your problems appear to be systemic. Have you done any rigorous end-to-end process mapping?

    #705824 Reply

    Hi Strayer, thanks for the reply. I will be completely honest and say in my define/measure phase I did the process mapping however looking back now it was not as rigorous as I would have liked to have now. I think the problem was at the time there was no indication that the other departments outputs to the next internal customer were at such a high level of variation. I blame my own inexperience for that. Would you recommend going back to that stage and being meticulous in mapping it out focussing on value-add and quality steps? I’m worried at the moment by trying to switch my focus upstream two departments the scope creep will be enormous and management will think I’m on a goose chase. I suppose one option could be when the cell’s backlog is clear and it can produce enough parts to exceed demand I close this out and request a new project focussing on the start of the chain? I feel like I have learned a hell of a lot in the last few months and were I start again there are many things I would do differently/better. I also suppose this will be a continual thing every project. It’s a bit frustrating to make progress for months then feel like you’ve made it on a shaky foundation!

    #705836 Reply

    @Daniel.S Guess what? Twenty years from now if you are still doing projects you will walk away learning a lot and thinking of 50 ways you could have done it differently. You are supposed to keep learning. Write down your ideas for doing things differently and then stop worrying about the past. It’s gone.

    This is probably not what you are looking for. There is nobody that understands what you have done better than you not even some hot shot MBB or whatever. You need to have logic and data to support where you go next. Make the decision based on what you know. Explain it to your boss. They are paid to keep people off your butt. Hold them accountable to do that. Then do your job and don’t worry about what other people think.

    There is a good book out there called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fxxx,” Get a copy and read it. Your life will be easier.

    Just my opinion.

    #705994 Reply

    Hi Mike, thanks for your advice! I actually had a sit down with the MD last week and had a great back and forth with him about the current situation and the obstacles I have ahead. He was full of support and we now have a clearer plan going forward, I’m excited to continue.

    I think I was worried as the BB on site I had to know everything and be right every time with all decisions. A bit naive to say the least. I’ve looked up that book too, sounds like a good read in this job!!


    #705995 Reply

    @Daniel.S You have an open door and that is great. Now you need to manage up as well as down. As you progress you need to keep the MD informed. Make it very short and succinct. If they want more they will ask.

    I have no idea what the SS providers do these days mostly because I don’t pay any attention to them. We used to have a report out for each BB when they would come back for training i.e. when they showed up for Measure training they had to do a 10 minute presentation on what they did for their project for Define. It accomplished a couple things. Experience speaking in front of people and it made sure nobody was not working their project. The presentation was 10 minutes. Nothing more. Most Executives are High A type personality. We had data that said a High A will sit still for about 10 minutes before they start giving in to their personality and start taking over. They also don’t read. They do charts. So keep that in mind when you update the MD.

    Just my opinion.

    #705997 Reply

    What a neat process.

    #706004 Reply

    @Mike-Carnell That is a great process, I have a direct line to a MBB through email/webcam etc and also another MBB who was not part of the training but I know him quite well as he has been conducting training on site for the last couple years intermittently.

    Thanks for the great advice, I appreciate your time. As an aside I’ll tell you a short story I was told about the guy in my role previously. He was hired as the quality continuous improvement engineer, and was given complete freedom in his role. Apparently he took over the boardroom wall and started to fill it wall to wall with graphs and charts. For three months the wall got more and more full of paper when he triumphantly called in the senior management team to tell them he’d just saved the company 20k. But he didn’t actually DO anything. He couldn’t even articulate HOW he had saved them, just kept pointing to graphs. Needless to say he is gone and here I am.

    I actually initiated the meeting with the MD by offering him a short presenation, around 20 slides encompassing all my work so far, no more than 1 chart on each necessary slide, and it had good success.

    @cseider thanks for your input also Chris, I appreciate you guys taking the time to help me out.


    #706008 Reply

    @Daniel.S Great opportunity. There is no way to go but up. Very nice move with the MD. Remember you are on the radar screen now. He is watching you.

    When I was at Motorola I worked for a person who was considered by some to be the meanest VP in the company. I loved working for him. Zero BS. At that time we were all into the corporate culture of death by PowerPoint. The VP was having no part of it and immediately put out a notice that none of us were to present outside The department until the VP reviewed it and you were allowed no more than 5 slides. 6 if it was very technical.

    Before the review the VP would say “What story are you trying to tell?” then you presented your slides. The VP would either say OK or “I didn’t get it.” It was great training. I was thrown out of the office on more than one occasion. That shortened the learning curve considerably.

    The high A’s can be volatile. Communicating with them is a special talent. It can pay off in support and funding for your work.

    You know that nonsense about quick wins? That is a very poor strategy. You fix something fast and easy and nobody care. Take the project that everybody says can’t be fixed. That makes people pay attention.

    Just my opinion.

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)

Register Now

  • Stop this in-your-face notice
  • Reserve your username
  • Follow people you like, learn from
  • Extend your profile
  • Gain reputation for your contributions
  • No annoying captchas across site
And much more! C'mon, register now.

Reply To: Adapting to Lessons Learned in Project
Your information:

5S and Lean eBooks

Six Sigma Online Certification: White, Yellow, Green and Black Belt

Six Sigma Statistical and Graphical Analysis with SigmaXL
Six Sigma Online Certification: White, Yellow, Green and Black Belt
Lean and Six Sigma Project Examples
GAGEpack for Quality Assurance
Find the Perfect Six Sigma Job

Login Form