Sharon Connary

A fresh set of eyes

Connect meets with Sharon Connary, at Trelleborg Pipe Seals in Milford, New Hampshire, U.S.  Sharon completed the one year Trelleborg Manufacturing Excellence School at the beginning of 2015.  In parallel to the training modules, she has been running two improvement projects at her own site; a requirement to obtain the certificate.    

Her first project focused on increasing the production capacity by reducing the changeover time for a top nozzle injection mold machine, which was accounting for 10% of the machine’s downtime. “A brainstorming session determined some of the causes to be: Non-standard tooling, manual tools, difficulty aligning the mold to the top nozzle, and the requirement of the operator to handle six components simultaneously to clamp the mold in place.  To effect change in the mold changeover process, we conducted a SMED event with a team of Trelleborg employees, both internal and external to our facility,” Sharon says. 

“We purchased ratcheting torque wrenches, a different style bolt and clamping mechanism which will clamp 80% of our molds without additional spacers, reducing the need for multiple components being handled simultaneously.” The project also involved the design of a new alignment tool, the “V-board,” which allows the operator to effectively align the mold to the nozzle during initial installation of the mold into the machine, eliminating the need for additional measuring. “The material cost for this was 65 US Dollars!  A new standard operating procedure was established and training provided to the operators,” Sharon continues.  

The event yielded a 71% reduction in the mold changeover time (from 48 minutes to 14), effectively providing the capacity to produce an additional $7,000 worth of goods on this one machine. 

Second project
“My second project for the ME School was a TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) project on a top nozzle injection mold machine that began experiencing many breakdowns in the later part of 2013.  The goal of this project was to reduce breakdown-induced downtime from 23% to 10% by the end of the year. In the first quarter of 2014, this machine had a breakdown-induced downtime of 23%, resulting in an overall equipment efficiency of just 50% and a loss of nearly $27,000 worth of finished goods inventory.”  Analysis of the causes of the downtime revealed most of the downtime was related to three unresolved, reoccurring machine-maintenance issues; a lack of preventative and autonomous main-tenance schedules; an overstretched maintenance department, and an underutilized machine operator. 

“In the first and second quarters, we established a cross-departmental team to conduct a 5S event, created a standardization of the work area, and addressed the reoccurring maintenance issues.” The results were a marked improvement to both downtime and efficiency.  After that, Sharon and her team conducted a TPM event and developed both a preventative and an autonomous maintenance schedule.  The operator was given training on new responsibilities and progress is now continuously monitored.  The 4th quarter result revealed a 0% breakdown-induced downtime and an overall equipment efficiency of just over 80%.  This will open capacity for an additional $27,000 worth of finished goods with an estimated sales value of nearly $60,000.

Future plans
“My 2015 project,” Sharon continues, “is to reduce the lead-time in our wide profile band department by 30%.  Additionally, we will establish a supermarket (warehouse for high volume finished goods inventory) and a system for replenishment by February 2016.”  Analysis of the process revealed that there is a lack of performance data collection in the band production process, as well as a lack of standard operating procedures.  A recently conducted analysis revealed that the flow is not optimized as auxiliary pieces of equipment disrupt the flow, causing excessive walking by the operator.  

“Our current set-up requires us to stock these parts in components, rather than finished goods, resulting in high levels of WIP and consuming excessive floor space. It is our intent to make improvements to the process by establishing performance data, standard work, a finished goods storage area with a min/max system, as well as do a mini-Hoshin event in the band processing area,” Sharon concludes.