Creating Time through Lean ManufacturingRob Murner
As an industry leader in fiberglass reinforcements for the bonded abrasives industry, we continue to evolve our products and operational efficiencies at the IPAC facility in Shrewsbury, MA. Lately, we are focusing on multiple Lean Initiatives, including 5S and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). We continue to invest in equipment and processes that will help IPAC deliver the same or better quality at a lower price.
We have built an in-house Lean Tiger Team comprised of management and supervisors to accomplish the following overall goals:
- Organize conditions in adherence to the 5S system
- Increase Total Productive Maintenance and machine up-time
- Establish baselines and standards for continuous improvement
- Leverage technology to increase capacity and reduce waste
First, we started working on 5S (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain), organized all cutting and coating workstations and implemented new methods of inventorying and organizing our tools and materials.
Since then, our Tiger Team has hatched home-run ideas that further enhance our industry-leading cutting and coating processes, saving us time and improving efficiency. Ultimately, we have rotated our cutting equipment, bolstered our layup efforts, added a fiberglass coating oven, and unified our staff, which now collaborates together on the same shift.
- We improved our cutting processes to create time. We rotated our cutting equipment and added a second layup table. This has eliminated the stop-and-start issues of our previous layup procedures, allowing the layup team to work ahead of the cutting team – improving efficiency for our overarching lean manufacturing process as a whole.
- We restored a third oven that had been recently underutilized, for a new, time-saving use in the production of fiberglass. In doing so, we have created time without reducing staffing needs. Our dayshift capacity has increased, eliminating the need for second shift production and allowing staff to do valuable work during this prime shift.
These enhancements will allow us to best use our time and resources while offering customers the quickest job turnaround times possible. Going forward, we will continue to hone our solutions-based lean manufacturing approach, enhancing operations and ensuring customers the best value-added services and products.