iSixSigma

Creating a Capable Process

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General Creating a Capable Process

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #41124

    Mrs. V
    Participant

    First I must say, I love this forum. Everyone who helps out and responds to the questions, have been very useful to me in my new six sigma job.
    My question is based on capability. How is a process created when you are dealing with food products? I just recently started working for a company that makes chocolate and during the busy seasons (Halloween, Christmas, Easter), they put their employees on mandatory overtime but in the summer months, they tend to lay them off because of the lack of work.  Is there any way to even this out? The chocolate itself can be made up to 3 months before it’s packaged. I’m having a hard time with reducing the cost of labor in the busy months. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to go about making this more of a lean process?

    0
    #128540

    Schuette
    Participant

    V,
    If you want it to be a Lean process, you shouldn’t balance out your demand by making chocolate ahead of time – that is inventory, one of the deadly wastes.  Your demand is seasonal, so try and make the process more efficient during the high demand periods. Use all of the Lean tools to fully understand the process and make it as efficient as you can. 
    After you have the process as efficient as you can ecconomically make it, then look at alternative solutions to your unbalance demand.  Instead of laying off workers, can sales and marketing come up with new products or customers for the excess capacity during the slow months?

    0
    #128569

    OLD
    Participant

    Mrs. V:
     
    Jim has provided some very valuable advice. Inventory is almost always deadly. Remember, the company you work for is in business to make MONEY. Making chocolate is the means they’ve chosen to that end. Don’t prematurely assume that the inventory idea is a bad idea in your specific scenario. If “strategic” inventory makes the company more money then it is a possible solution.
     
    Whether you approach this as a SS project, lean project, or TOC project, follow the DMAIC guidelines to think it through:
     
    1). Define your problem/opportunity and the associated costs/benefits (it sounds like reducing labor expense is the opportunity?). Spend a great deal of time fully understanding the costs associated with the current process. By product, by production line, by month, by season, etc. Benchmark with other/similar seasonal industries. Be creative as there are many seasonal businesses….
     
    2). Measure. Establish key metrics (cost/pound, cost/package produced, cost/lot, utilization of machines and people/month, time from production to shipment, etc.) Again, benchmarking with other/similar seasonal food companies.
     
    3). Analyze. Know and understand your bottlenecks. If the chocolate can be made three months ahead of time, is your company taking full advantage of this fact? Is the MRP system planning for this? Do you ever scrap product due to exceeding the shelf life? What is the cost associated with carrying inventory compared to overtime costs? What about the demographics of the work force? Ratio of permanent to temporary? All three shifts? Run paybacks and risk assessments on “what-ifs?”. This would be the point where you may validate or disprove the idea that inventory is deadly.
     
    4). Improve. When you have some changes that you feel you’d like to implement, can you try them with limited exposure on a particular subset? Do you have some smaller, less risky markets where you could test/control the deployment? You want to avoid the problem that one manufacturer had a few years ago when their “system” did not allow them to ship at a key holiday period.
     
    5). Control. Self-explanatory.
     
    Spend as much time as you can with the activities associated with DM& A. That time will be well spent. Good Luck!!!! OLD
      PS. Do you need any volunteer taste samplers?

    0
    #128601

    Mrs. V
    Participant

    Thank you both for your responses. The company is very small so I will have to investigate this further. You gave me a great place to start! 

    0
    #128605

    TR
    Member

    Mrs V.,
    You may want to look at the beer industry for an example of seasonal demand.  I worked for many years in the micro brew industry.  We saw a huge seasonal peak in the summer months that dropped off through the winter. 
    Our solution was to introduce seasonal products only available during that period to create demand.
    A look at how breweries cope may provide some insight.
    Just a thought. 
     
     
     

    0
    #128608

    Mrs. V
    Participant

    TR~
    I didn’t know breweries had that issue. But I can ask a friend of mine that works in one. Maybe he can get me a tour so I can talk to their guys on the issue.
    Thank you for the great suggestion!
    ~V

    0
    #128613

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Mrs. V,
    The first thing you might want to check is if the lay offs are an issue with the work force. This may sound a little odd but in one factory where we worked we were cyclical and we agonized over doing a layoff. It was in a rural area and the layoff coincided with the planting season. We ended up with a lottery to award the layoff status because a large number of people wanted it.
    It might be odd to see something like that happen twice but it never hurts to ask before you “fix” something that people don’t necessarily want fixed.
    As far a leaning your process there are a lot of books that can tell you how it needs to be done. That probably isn’t your answer to trying to level load your factory.
    Just my opinion
    Good luck

    0
    #128959

    David Price
    Participant

    Regarding your remark about high labor costs, have you considered Annual hours?  This would allow flexibility of the workforce but with continuous employment and no overtime costs at peak times.

    0
    #128967

    Mrs. V
    Participant

    What exactly is annual hours? is it similar to teachers’ salaries?

    0
    #128969

    jimmie65
    Participant

    This might not be an option in all areas.
    In Texas, for example, we have to pay overtime weekly. Labor laws prevent us from looking at a longer period, even just 2 weeks. And hourly employees are not allowed any flex time (saving extra worked hours in trade for time off.)
    Too bad, because it does limit flexibility in scheduling. I’ve never heard it suggested on a yearly basis, though. Is this an option in other states and have you seen it work? (Pure curiosity, since I’ll not be able to implement anything similar.)

    0
    #128971

    Paul Gibbons
    Participant

    J66 & Mrs V,
    Here in the UK we use a system known as ‘annualised hours’ or ‘flexible working’. In my last job we went from hourly paid work  with overtime, to flexible working in two stages. Employees were all given a 15% payrise to sign up to the new system.
    Stage one
    Pre-buy hours from employees in view that they will work them off during the year as required. In this case we bought 12, 12 hours shifts to be used for holiday cover, sick cover etc. There were some difficulties in implementing this especially when it came to emergency cover.
    Stage two
    No pre-buying of hours just ‘flexible working’. During ‘quiet’ production times workers can be ‘stood down’ from shift to accumulate hours for busier times or holiday cover etc. Again, there were some difficulties in implementing this, such as production pressures due to inefficent processes meaning that some workers were accumulating hours owed to them. One person in particular got an end of year payment in the £1000s for hours owed.
    It is not all negative though; I have successfully managed a shift maintenance crew using flexible working principles. To cover a 4 shift system I had 5 teams of maintenance crew with a target of 2 shifts on duty, 2 on standby and 1 standing down. It takes a lot of planning but I developed an attendance planner system to manage it.
    Hope this helps
    Paul 

    0
    #128972

    David Price
    Participant

    Here in the UK we are able to have a contract with employees for an annual salary with very flexible hours up to an agreed maximum.  The company can then call in as many or few people as necessary to get the required output at any one time.  Employees must be available at short notice and depending on the contract this could involve weekend working.  As an example have a look at: http://www.flexibleworking.co.uk/IPD_case_study.htm There are many more website also on this subject.

    0
    #129007

    Mrs. V
    Participant

    Wow, thanks. I will read up on it more. I truly appreciate it!

    0
    #129279

    Talaid
    Participant

    Great definition of DMAIC. It’s so simple to me now.
    I would also be glad to volunteer as a sample taster.
    Andy
     
     

    0
Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)

The forum ‘General’ is closed to new topics and replies.