Culture of Continuous Improvement Leads to Customer Savings
March 04, 2021
At Harmac, we’re all trained to think critically, ask questions and continuously improve. From product assembly team members to senior managers, everyone has the green light to offer suggestions — especially if it benefits our customers and end-user patients.
Recently, we had one such opportunity present itself. A few team members, following a Lean Six Sigma training session, evaluated a product line creating a substantial amount of excess “Work in Process” (WIP). Manufacturers try to avoid excess WIP, which causes waste such as defects, material movement, changeover time, and cash tied up in inventory. WIP inventory consumes floor space, adds unnecessary expenses such as containerization and often requires more employees to handle materials. Excess WIP also adversely impacts sustainability goals. Much of this material gets scrapped, leading to increased waste disposal and carbon emissions.
Identifying value-added processes and eliminating waste to support our sustainability goals and benefit internal and external customers is an ingrained part of the Harmac culture. This culture led our team to analyze the manufacturing process for this product line. They concluded that aging equipment with insufficient operational availability created the excess WIP. As a result, the team recommended a redesigned "single piece flow" production process and an investment in updated technology.