Challenge: process breakdowns and frustrated customers

A Midwest metal building fabricator was struggling with customer complaints due to missed shipments, late shipments and poor response time. Trucks were leaving the plant with parts missing or damaged parts. Part orders would be started in the shop, and by the second or third station, pieces were lost or missing.

Workers would remake the parts again, only to find the original parts a day or two after the remake. Workers were living in a state of confusion and safety issues were always present. Customers were frustrated and charging the company for part delays due to idle workers.


Solution: Cleaning up systems

After a two week fact finding mission we uncovered a strong need for the following solutions to be executed:

  • In-plant order tracking
  • Problem solving skills
  • Maintenance scheduling help
  • Safety programs

We started problem solving skills training and designed a lean workflow of parts. A staging area was built for orders so when parts were completed, they were placed in the staging area so they would not get lost. A 5-S system was put into place so workers had clear walking areas and organized tool storage. Orders were tracked from the beginning and placed on a board as parts went from one station to another. We did an analysis with maintenance to determine which machines had critical repair issues, put preventive actions and repairs in place, and had contingent parts ordered in case of a major machine problem.


Results of the initiatives after 3 months:

  • Scrap was reduced from 11.7% to 9.9%.
  • Remakes dropped from over 200 per month to less than 3
  • On time delivery went from 27% to over 86%.
  • Workers reported a much less stressful environment
  • Safety issues were less than 1 per month.
  • Finding the cause of machine problems to the root cause eliminated downtime and reliance was increased by 23%.
  • The equipment parts crib was emptied and only parts that could not be quickly and locally obtained were ordered and readied for action.
  • At the end of the initiative, the company was moving two shear presses to the plant due to its ability to keep critical parts for its other 8 plants.