If you can dream it, you can do it.' -- Walt Disney

Believe you can and you’re halfway there. -- Theodore Roosevelt

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. --Henry Ford

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. -- Albert Einstein

Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. -- Les Brown

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. -- Amelia Earhart

None of us is as smart as all of us. -- Ken Blanchard

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Improve is to change, perfect is to change often – Winston Churchill

Improvement Story # 2 – a change over time reduction

Posted 6/15/2016

This story is about the reduction of the format changeover on a packing line. This line was filling 500g. and 1000 g. round tubs. The packing line comprised a tub feeder located one floor above, the tub filler, the tub sealer and the cartoner. The line staff was a team of one machine operator and one assistant to feed the tubs from the upper floor. They were capable of running the line and also of doing the changeover in their normal working time. The changeover took 3.5 hours and the factory used to do one changeover every one or two weeks, restricting its flexibility to react in sudden spikes of the market. Besides it was forcing to keep one to two weeks stock (cycle stock).

Joe, the production manager took the decision to start a changeover time reduction project with Mike, the machine operator and George the assistant. They started with splitting of the changeover job in small activities. They ended up with a long list of 491 activities. They then went through asking, whether each activity was a necessary one and if yes, whether it could be started before stopping for the changeover. They also examined, whether they could facilitate the activity. Interestingly, they managed to eliminate more that 10% of the activities. The reason is that they were suggested by the machine manual, which however was generic. The line and in particular the cartoning machine was built to accommodate more formats and Joe with the assistance from Mike managed to work around some activities. For instance they realised that the big format carton feeder plate could, with a small modification, do for the smaller cartons so there was no need to replace it.  Further, they ordered some setting jigs and marked some signs on the machines to help with the necessary adjustments of the line for each packing format. Some nuts were substituted for tool free tightening ones (wing nuts). A big improvement was to construct a small trolley to accommodate the inox plates of the packing line chain conveyor carrying the tubs from the filler through the sealer to the cartoning machine. This greatly facilitated the replacing of the plates, but not only that. The trolley provided a standard place to put all the specific tools and parts used for the changeover, which eliminated the searching time of the team.

The changeover routine process was redesigned to balance the activities between the machine operator and his assistant. This required that the assistant had to be trained to change the inox plates, using a wrench air tool. Besides, the sequence of the activities were modified to achieve as many overlaps as possible. For instance the changeover of the tub feeder could start before stopping the line.

All these activities contributed to the reduction of the changeover time down to 1 hour. It was immediately obvious that we could change the packing format of the line even twice within the same shift in case of a big order. The stocks reduced to more than 50%, improving the customer service index (OTIF – on time in full) by one percentage unit.