How going Lean on the packaging line can make you more profitable
What is Lean?
Lean, a concept implemented by the Toyota company in the 1930s, is a methodology designed to reduce both waste and the amount of work in progress. Waste includes product defects, overproduction, and unnecessary additional processing. Adopting Lean principles can help you meet customer demand and win at your daily operations.
1. Standard work
“Standard Work” is a set of instructions driven by pictures that are easy for your operators to understand. Their simplicity helps you train new employees more easily than heavy word-based guides. Standard Work is consistent and predictable, reducing the variation in your process and eliminating guesswork.
2. Total Preventative Maintenance (TPM)
Total Preventive Maintenance (TPM) means scheduling regular, anticipated maintenance on equipment to help avoid breakdowns by eliminating predictable causes of failure. The first step to developing a TPM plan is defining which machines are considered critical, those machines that must absolutely stay running. After defining those machines, you could keep a schedule of when oilers need to be refilled, when the machines need to be cleaned, or whether equipment needs to be repaired.
3. Visual management
“What do I run next” is a common question that packaging operators ask. With a Heijunka wheel, a visual management tool, they’ll know without asking. A Heijunka is a product wheel that provides a simple visualization of production that shows what operations are in the queue and when they are scheduled. At any given time, a line or plant manager can walk up to a wheel and know what their operators are making without ever looking at the line.
4. Minimize changeover
There are two types of Changeover: Internal Changeover, which directly affects the line as downtime, and External Changeover, which allows you to do things offline and bring them into the line to make Changeover smoother. Minimizing Internal Changeover is about understanding what’s driving your Internal Changeover time and figuring out how you take processes—like changing pieces of machinery—into External Changeover.
5. Variation reduction
Variation Reduction Kaizen (VRK) eliminates waste by understanding the variability of the process. Kaizen is the Japanese word for improvement and refers to continuously reducing waste across the company. One way to utilize VRK is by watching what happens when the line process changes hands from Operator A to Operator B. When you study variation during Changeover, you’ll see exactly what you need to do to have good VRK and win on the packaging line.