Process Improvement Workshop Saves Family Company Money

After recognising the need to increase capacity to meet ever growing demand, The Foam Company engaged Oneflow to undertake a Process Improvement Workshop.

Working with John Baldwin of Oneflow, The Foam Company has been able to increase capacity and output of its mattress range by 60%, using the same resources and factory space. Productivity has improved by 18% and cost savings totalling more than 12 times the activity budget have been realised, leaving the company in great shape for the future.

The Objectives

With demand for mattresses set to increase, Jon Baker, Operations Director, was concerned that the existing manufacturing space was insufficient and impacting upon achieving the best possible efficiencies in production.

In order to meet this ongoing challenge, Jon also set the objective of establishing a culture of process improvement within the shop floor team.

Key Project objectives were defined by The Foam Company as to:

  • Improve productivity with no impact upon customer service
  • Increase mattress capacity by 50% within the same manufacturing space
  • Establish a culture of continuous improvement within the manufacturing team

Project Approach

As with all Process Improvement Workshops a team was established to tackle the improvement activity. The Foam Company team comprised of the team leaders and the Operation Director. The teams' activities were briefed to employees at daily briefings.

The project was structured using Oneflow's 'common approach', which maximises impact, skills transfer and sustainability of continuous improvement. The team then undertook a structure program of stages:

  • Stage 1 - 'Learning to see' through mapping existing process using value stream mapping techniques
  • Stage 2 - Data analysis, problem solving and establishing a future state map
  • Stage 3 - Implement improvements and layout changes
  • Stage 4 - Measure impact and establish Continuous Improvement actions

The Actions

The mattress order flow was mapped for the 6 different product families using value stream mapping techniques. Detailed timings were established for all the operation steps and an analysis of the value adding activities and 7 Wastes was carried out.

Along with existing QCD (Quality, Cost and Delivery) measures; distance travelled, space utilization and material yields were also measured and the team calculated the Takt for the customer demand.

Having completed the analysis, the team looked at what improvements could be made and identified a number of key actions to resolve the issues seen:

  • Batch size reduction to 1, allowing for daily planning to suit load and shipping schedule
  • Single piece flow from block cutting to finished goods store to reduce space requirements and complexity
  • Relocate key processes to suit the flow of materials and minimise distance travelled
  • Raw material rationalization of specifications to reduce real material cost
  • Establish a single team to manufacture mattresses
  • Use of visual management to set and control pace of production

The team established a future state map of the complete process together with an implementation plan with the main change focusing on a new layout, moving the majority of machinery to suit the flow of material through the process.

Results

With the implementation plan delivered, The Foam Company has delivered considerable results against its original objectives:

  • Productivity improved by 18% (to date)
  • New layout of the process has increased capacity from 200 units a week to 540 units a week with the same equipment and personnel
  • Self managing mattress assembly team supported by team leaders using improvement tools to further improve the process

Beyond these original objectives, through engaging a team in the process, further improvements have been delivered:

  • Parts distance travelled reduced by 25%
  • Changes to two key raw materials specification reducing waste equal to £9000 per annum
  • The whole manufacturing facility can now accommodate sales growth of 50% within the same building

The Future

The Foam Company continue to be a client of Oneflow, working together on further Process Improvement Workshops, delivering an ever developing future state as the company continues to enjoy growth.

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