Manufacturers are scrambling to increase capacity to meet demanding delivery schedules in the highly charged energy market. Increasing capacity and reducing delivery times begins with assessing the facility, available resources and processes, to maximize output and minimize wasted time. That’s where methodologies like Lean Manufacturing can make a difference. Lean Manufacturing is an initiative focused on eliminating waste in manufacturing processes to shortening the time between the customer order and shipment, ensuring your job gets delivered on time. When doing business with any manufacturer, one should always inquire about their techniques for process improvement.
The road to achieving Lean Manufacturing is long and involves a multitude of process steps. To focus on immediately reducing delivery times, a manufacturer should begin with the Flow segment of the manufacturing process. The first step is to initiate 5S Training, as Solarcraft has, to create and sustain a clean organized workplace. The 5S’s are:
SORT : sort the contents of the workplace and remove all unnecessary items
STRAIGHTEN : arrange the necessary items in their place and provide easy access and clear identification
SHINE : clean everything, keep it clean and use cleaning to inspect the workplace and equipment for defects
STANDARDIZE : create visual controls and guidelines for keeping the workplace organized, orderly and clean; in other words, maintain the shine
SUSTAIN : institute training and discipline to ensure that everyone follows the 5S standards
To launch a Lean Manufacturing initiative, Solarcraft has embarked on 30-Day First Steps Plan, with our Metal Fab Shop the first area to be addressed. As a result, the Fab Shop got a good scrub and shine. Sheet metals were organized for ease of access. Carts were introduced to move product more efficiently. Product identification and safety signage have been posted. Machine operators have been trained on standardized Start-up and Shutdown procedures. To help sustain cleanliness, the filters for the laser cutter’s large air filtration system have been upgraded. The result is visible: better utilization of space, organized materials, clear paths for moving finished work and an overall cleaner safer work environment.
Next in line for the 5S Initiative was the Parts Cage. The Parts Cage keeps our electricians and assemblers supplied with the hardware and components they need to complete customer orders. Organizing parts bins for efficient access, ridding dead inventory, classifying items, clearing paths, standardizing receiving, restocking and reordering procedures, clearly identifying and labeling, all can speed up job parts fulfillment. The result is efficiency in Assembly and Wiring Depts, with fewer jobs on hold waiting for parts and less technician downtime waiting for parts to be pulled.
Instilling the 5S’s is only the foundation of Lean Manufacturing. When our customers’ buying decisions are based on delivery schedules, we know we have to hustle. Improvement is a constant process from the top down and bottom up that requires training and innovation. That’s why we have rigorous expectations for commitment by all to be better than ever before, bringing even more value to our customers to ensure they get their projects delivered on time and on schedule.
For more information on how Solarcraft can serve you, contact us today at (877) 340-1224.