If your company is not yet performing at world-class levels when it comes to packaging then you are not alone—most companies are not. You are probably interested in leaning out your operations, but do not have the budget or time for a fullblown lean implementation.
Doing nothing is not a good option, given the pressures exerted by your own corporate management team to continue boosting profits—in spite of volatile energy costs, higher materials costs, higher labor costs, and any other challenges posed by your particular market.
Well, there is no reason you cannot adopt many of the same methods and techniques that world-class companies used to become world class.
And because you aren’t taking early-adopter risks, you can bring about similar levels of improvement more quickly and at a much lower cost.
If that sounds too easy, then take a look at the following proven tips, which distill what is working today at companies that are the leaders in terms of Lean Six Sigma implementations, operational excellence and world-class performance.
1) Set Overall Improvement Goals
Often, many manufacturers sell themselves short on potential improvement gains.
For example, many companies that started their Lean initiatives several years ago continue to achieve significant gains in productivity. Do not cripple your efforts before you even get started by setting less-than-ambitious goals that will only provide a marginal benefit to the business.
How do you set appropriate goals?
Measure current performance — then get out and benchmark against best-in-class and your peers. Many companies have increased the productivity of their lines by 20 percent or more.
2) Review Current KPIs
It is difficult to improve that which cannot be measured accurately.
Yet many companies are guilty of producing charts for “historical reasons”, where the data basis is unclear, data accuracy is questionable, and data is charted but not actually used to drive improvement.
How many times have we seen the infamous “line efficiency” metric with calculated values exceeding 100 percent? Too many.
This is always a red flag, and likely indicates target values are based on average performance instead of best demonstrated rate or theoretical rates.
Critical to any productivity improvement initiative are a relatively small number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be measured accurately, easily understood, and directly aligned with your greater business objectives.
Has your company clearly defined these key metrics in a document so everyone has a common understanding of how they should be measured? How accurate is the raw data? What is excluded? Have theoretical rates been determined properly?
These types of questions will ensure you are using metrics that matter.
3) Implement OEE
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a worthy standard for driving productivity improvement.
Defined as the product of availability, performance, and quality, OEE breaks your losses into three easily understandable components—each of which requires different types of solutions to improve.
Unlike the traditional plant efficiency metric which often is designed around typical output, OEE is designed to show all the key losses that could be improved upon to boost productivity and capacity.