Reducing material waste makes good business sense. In 2012, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions in Fort Wayne, US, saved approximately USD 850,000. Another effect was reduced inefficiency in inventory and production, while on-time delivery was improved to 99+ percent.
The success at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions in Fort Wayne was the result of the Group’s “Manufacturing Excellence” program. The first task was to examine the overall performance of the plant.
Reducing waste is possible in many areas, the most obvious of which is material waste. However, waste may also take the form of system delays and unnecessary inventory. At the site in Fort Wayne, fluctuations in processes where identified as a major factor in the creation of waste at various points. A solution to the problem was therefore to move toward more standardization without compromising on other key aspects.
“While the goods that leave this facility have always held a high quality, to achieve a good result, we had to overproduce and made deviations in the process that resulted in waste,” says Tim Stumph, General Manager at the production site in Fort Wayne.
Waste-reduction projects were accelerated when raw material prices jumped 300 percent in 2010 and material utilization became crucial.
“This really motivated us in our efforts. We shifted into a higher gear and areas that needed attention were placed under the magnifying glass,” explains the General Manager.
He also talks about the implementation of certain Lean and Six Sigma tools that helped to focus strategically and to prioritize the right initiative.
“We created value stream maps to identify the processes that added value and those that did not,” he continues.
This resulted in plant operators adjusting their behavior, making things simpler and using less material – and time. Five years ago, it could take up to 28 days for a product to go from the shop floor to shipment. Today, it takes between 5 and 7 days.
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