The Plastop site, which uses injection blow moulding and extrusion blow moulding technology to produce rigid plastic containers, was experiencing up to 18% waste on Machine 1. This was way over the usual 5% average of this machine. Maintenance teams, who were already snowed under with general machine maintenance, did not understand the reasons for such high scrap levels. A successful Profit Improvement Project (PIP), run by a cross-functional team, saw the machine’s scrap levels drop to below 2%. This is the story of how they got there.
The Coastal Rigids Division of Astrapak embarked on their World Class Manufacturing (WCM) journey using TRACC in November 2008. The key focus of the WCM initiative was to drive out waste from the business, to ensure the business remained competitive.
As part of the Focused Improvement TRACC, various Profit Improvement Projects (PIPs) were identified. One such project was the reduction of scrap on Machine 1 at the site. At the time, the cause of high scrap levels on this machine was not well understood or documented, as scrap was only categorized into three causes. What was known was that Machine 1 was producing scrap levels of close to 18% at the start of the PIP — a far cry from the 5% average based on the machine’s historical data.
The key focus was to establish the TRACC Foundation Best Practices of Leading and Managing Change, Teamwork, 5S, Visual Management, and Focused Improvement in the manufacturing environment and then to roll these out to the rest of the supply chain.
The Implementation Task Force (ITF) was a superb example of setting the standard for a well-run PIP. After two failed attempts due to lack of focus and ability to follow the structured DMAIC problem-solving approach, the team realized that for the PIP on Machine 1 to deliver the desired scrap results, they had to work as a team and apply each improvement tool correctly and in the correct sequence. More importantly, they all had to share in the responsibility of completing each improvement task.
The tagging exercise on Machine 1 highlighted many deviations from the standard, including poor installation and unsafe practices. These were tagged and actioned by the team. One of the first discoveries during this PIP was that improvements rely on good data. Downtime information at Plastop was traditionally recorded under vague headings of “Mechanical”, “Electrical” and “Other”, making analysis impossible. The team therefore expanded these downtime causes into over 30 downtime cause codes. In addition to downtime analysis, the team also collected detailed information about scrap. Works orders were also analyzed to gather further information about problems experienced on Machine 1.
Brainstorming is a relentless search for the root cause; it is rarely completed in the first sitting. The PIP team on Machine 1 conducted three brainstorming sessions, and after 5 Why analysis they generated 24 improvement actions.
Traditionally, improvement actions were the task of the Engineering team who were already inundated with breakdowns, routine machine schedules and repairs. This approach changed with each member of the ITF, including the General Manager, taking on the responsibility of completing the improvement actions and developing the control system. The team also kept a separate action of all Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and One Point Lessons (OPLs) that needed to be developed.
The team’s determination and hard work paid off. The scrap levels on Machine 1 steadily declined through the implementation of the improvement actions and associated control steps. Scrap levels achieved were well below the 2% target. It is important that even when a PIP is in the control step, the team have to continue monitoring results and analyze any “out of control” situations and trends. This will lead to further improvement actions and control mechanisms to ensure sustainable results.
|Machine 1 at Plastop KZN|
|Typical Red Tag|
|The PIP Team during a brainstorming session|
|Plastop KZN was established on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, in 1997. Plastop forms part of the Coastal Rigids Division of the Astrapak Group of companies. The site uses injection blow moulding and extrusion blow moulding technology to produce rigid containers for the personal care market.
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