How One Factory is Using Equipment Maintenance to Promote Continuous Improvement

Maintaining a large factory is no easy job—and to put it simply—it’s downright frustrating to keep a team of 100+ employees on-task. But for Sandra Parker, the Process Improvement Manager at Sonoco packaging, increasing productivity and safety in her factory is more than just a menial task—it’s a commitment.

Not too long ago, Sonoco introduced a new brand of culture discipline into their factories: The Sonoco Performance System (SPS). Noted for increasing productivity and safety throughout manufacturing facilities, the system relies upon a high level of executive commitment, accurate metrics, and a drive for organizational learning.

Which is exactly where Ms. Parker’s role at Sonoco comes into play: working as the Process improvement Manger, her goal is to ensure that both employee training and development are exceeding expectations for the continuous improvement cycle.

Continue reading How One Factory is Using Equipment Maintenance to Promote Continuous Improvement

5 Lessons Every Manufacturer Can Learn From Taiichi Ohno

The name Taiichi Ohno is sure to raise a few eyebrows in a room full of engineers; after all, he is the co-creator of the Toyota Production System! Widely recognized as the father of both the Just-In-Time and Seven Wastes principals, Ohno’s teachings have shaped the pathway of modern manufacturing as it stands today. Over the past few decades, Tachii’s basic principals of manufacturing have undergone multiple transformations, influencing areas outside of manufacturing and making a larger impact in western business practices. Ohno unfortunately passed back in 1990, but not without revolutionizing the way organizations isolate wasteful components and draw focus to areas of improvement. In an effort to celebrate Ohno’s upcoming birthday (February 29th), we put together a list of some of our favorite lessons we can all take away from the father of lean manufacturing.

“No one has more trouble than the person who claims to have no trouble

This quote is reminiscent of the famous Toyota expression “No problems is a problem”—something should not be overlooked. The story goes that Ohno interpreted problems at Toyota as an opportunity for improvement as opposed to a moment of weakness. This philosophy later bled into the culture of the Toyota Production System, and more specifically, how management conducted root-cause analysis. When an issue would arise, Ohno would encourage his team to look at the situation without any preconceptions as to what may have gone wrong. By doing so, he hoped his team would search for multiple possibilities for improvement, as opposed to an isolated issue. You cannot move forward if you are unwilling to reflect upon both your successes and failures. There’s no single person that executes his or her job to perfection, and it’s under this belief that everyone can show some room for improvement if under the proper guidance. Continue reading 5 Lessons Every Manufacturer Can Learn From Taiichi Ohno

Q&A With a Visual Systems Specialist: Keeping Production on Track

Proper management of both employees and resources is a key component of running a successful manufacturing facility—and when you’re managing a factory of any size, it’s easy to let the little things slip under the radar. It’s not due to negligence or a lack of motivation, but a lack of proper tools. We caught up with one of Magnatag’s Visible Systems Specialists, Sue, to shed some light on how our systems can work for you.

Do customers ever come to you with a problem, hoping you will be able to direct them towards a solution?

Yes, absolutely! For instance, the minute someone says “I’m looking to target production”, I instantly direct that customer towards our Production Rate Tracker. Of course I’ll ask questions along the way in regards to what they’re looking to track and who they think will be using it the most, but I think we—as an entire sales force—have a good idea of where our products can make the biggest impact.

What makes the Production Rate Tracker different than traditional tracking tools? Continue reading Q&A With a Visual Systems Specialist: Keeping Production on Track

The Ultimate Guide To Lean Manufacturing Terms and Principals

If you’ve ever been in a meeting with a roomful of engineers discussing shop, you know how easy it is to get lost in the discussion. For anyone that’s trying to get a feel for the industry, there’s no easy way to decipher the many terms and principals that surround the manufacturing cycle; it’s as if there should be an entire section of the dictionary devoted solely to the industry. While we can’t offer you that concession—because let’s be honest, we don’t have time for that—we can offer you a place to start. We’ve put together the ultimate glossary, for the leading manufacturing philosophy in the world: Lean manufacturing.

5S: Believed by many to be a staple of the early Japanese Toyota Production System, the 5S process is an organizational method for the shop floor. Most factories commonly use the 5S process as a way to organize their workplace and expose any waste that may be counterintuitive to the continuous improvement process. The method is composed of a five-step process:

  1. Seiri (Organization): Eliminate any unnecessary items or tool that are not in use.
  2. Seiton (Set In Order): Bring order to your factory by assigning a set location for tools and equipment.
  3. Seiso (Shine): Make cleaning your factory a routine process to prevent material deterioration and act as a form of regular inspection.
  4. Seiketsu (Standardize): Establish a culture that reinforces a continuous development process.
  5. Shitsuke (Sustain): Apply standardization to your factory. Perform regular audits, create goals and milestones for workforce, and create a self-sufficient environment.

6S: An iteration of the 5S Process, 6S builds upon the previously established 5S process with the addition of a safety component.

Andon: A visual management system that notifies when issues arise in the production cycle. Traditionally used a system of light indicators, an andon system visually gives management the opportunity to identify abnormal situation in the production cycle. Continue reading The Ultimate Guide To Lean Manufacturing Terms and Principals

4 Insights That Will Transform Manufacturing In 2017

With the holiday season now behind us, it’s time to look ahead at what 2017 has in store for the future of the manufacturing industry. 2016 ended on a high note, bringing with it speculation of good things to come for the year ahead. With that in mind, we created a list of four possible game changers the manufacturing enthusiast should keep an eye on in the New Year.

An Increase In Pricing of Metal Commodities:

The most recent ISM (Institute for Supply Management) manufacturing Report on Business noted that steel—in addition to other metals such as copper, aluminum and brass—has been rising in price since the index first registered scores of above 50 back in 2016. For reference, a score above 50 in the index signifies a period of stabilization for the industry. Given that both the ISM index and the price of metal commodities have shown signs of continuous growth over the past six months, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to assume there is some degree of correlation in play. Tracking the price of metals and other raw materials can serve as a benchmark for the industry’s performance ahead of the ISM’s regularly scheduled reports. Continue reading 4 Insights That Will Transform Manufacturing In 2017

How To Guarantee Safety Guidelines Are Followed In Your Factory

In 2015, worker injuries and illnesses went down-from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.0. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration—which is a subdivision of the US Department of Labor—plays a large part in guaranteeing that this statistic continues to follow a downward trend.

In an attempt to maintain this statistic and ensure that their workplace is in accordance with National and State labor laws, many companies have started to reshape the way safety is defined in their culture.

About two years ago, National Grid Electric & Gas reevaluated the steps they were taking to build a safer working environment; of the many things they found, one aspect in particular caught our interest: although employee safety reports were conducted on a weekly basis, their lack of visual engagement was hindering communication efforts—something that was particularly troubling to members of National Grid’s management team.

Continue reading How To Guarantee Safety Guidelines Are Followed In Your Factory

5 Must-Have Products For Your Factory on World Quality Month

November is World Quality Month. What started in Japan in the 1960s to help build awareness for quality control, has now gown to the point where World Quality Month is now celebrated across the globe to encourage businesses to strive for continuous improvement.

Here at Magnatag Visible Systems, continuous improvement is part of our DNA. For over 50 years, we’ve been supplying manufacturers with tools built to reinforce the importance of strategic improvement.

To get in the spirit of the event, we created a list of some must-have products for anyone that is serious about taking their quality control to the next level.

KPI Monthly Scoreboards

Performance tracking metrics are crucial to assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your organization. With the help of Mangatag’s monthly KPI scoreboards, you can track and communicate the performance of your factory on both a daily and monthly basis. All of our KPI scoreboards are packaged with double-sided green/red magnets to indicate whether or not performance goals are being met. Continue reading 5 Must-Have Products For Your Factory on World Quality Month

How To Prevent Important Tasks From Being Forgotten

The Easton, Redding, and Region 9 school district is a tri-district located in Easton, Connecticut made up of five schools: Redding Elementary, Samuel Staples Elementary, Hellen Keller Middle, John Read Middle, and Joel Barlow High School—all of which fall directly under the supervision of Walter Czudak.

Working as the Director of Buildings and Grounds, Mr. Czudak is responsible for at least 250,000 square feet of educational facilities. With jobs ranging in difficulty from changing a few light bulbs, to overseeing the installation of a centralized air unit, the typical day for your average Director of Buildings and Grounds is anything but relaxed.

Earlier this year, the district came under hot water when two separate boilers located in the elementary and high school were installed and inspected, but local permits for the units were never acquired.

While the boiler issue was solved quickly, Mr. Czudak believes the issue could have been avoided if his team was better prepared to handle the multiple step process.

“The boilers came in, but our local inspection never came through. There are so many steps to the entire installation process and we let the permits slip through the cracks. When you’re dealing with two entirely different facilities, it’s easy to have actionable items fall off the radar in favor of one thing or another. ”

As a precautionary measure, Mr. Czudak recently contacted our team at Magnatag Visible Systems to help create a reliable means of tracking actionable data for his facility. Using the working concept of a Work-In-Progress board, the goal was to design a visual display board that would prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future.

With the help of one of Magnatag’s many Visual Systems Specialists (life-long Magnatag employees that specialize in creating visual systems that work), the school district was directed towards the company’s Do-Done StepTracker Whiteboard.WalterDDXT

The StepTracker whiteboard provides users with the ability to actively track projects in real time as they progress along a series of steps in a project. Using red/green double-sided magnets to mark when a step has been completed, the system enables users to accurately standardize project communication status.

“I wanted to create something that could keep everyone on the same page. With so many things going on across all five schools at any given time, the real challenge is keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest progressions. Ideally, a Principal or Superintendent should be able to walk into one of our facilities and know exactly what is going on.”

Prior to contacting Magnatag, Mr. Czudak did not have a visual system for tracking steps of internal projects. Project status was kept within multiple files spread across all five buildings making status updates a nightmare.

With an updated form of tracking—and customized headlines built to cover every step of the state and local government’s guidelines—Mr. Czudak’s newest addition to the district’s permitting process will provide his staff with an added measure of assurance.

Visit our website for more information on how you can design a StepTracker whiteboard for your own use.


Obeya: The Brain of the Lean Enterprise

We recently came across an article in the September/October issue of Industry Week Magazine that talks about Obeya. The article describes an Obeya as a centralized hub used for coordinating production and problem solving. Outfitted with visuals like charts, graphs, and trackers; Obeya’s are an essential part of managing and coordinating lean manufacturing efforts, functioning as a bridge between departments.

Many Factory Managers call upon our expertise in visualization of real-time data to help aid in the development of their manufacturing cycles, and after taking a look at some of the examples of Obyea’s included in Industry Week’s article, it came to our attention that many of the visual management tools that are used to track production requirements are some of Magnatag’s most popular products.

As seen in the photo attatched to the article, Magnatag produces many of the magnetic ChartHolders, supplies and accessories used in rooms of this type. Click here for the link to the article!


5S Outside The Factory: Learning To Organize Your Life

There’s the famous saying that goes a little something like: “If you want to have a happy life, you’re best to leave your work at work.” While that may remain true for most right-minded individuals, the reality of the situation at hand is that it’s not always possible. Some people work irregular hours, forcing them to conflict personal time with their hectic work life. Others may find themselves in a different situation entirely: working from home to best combat the harsh reality of two full-time working parents. Regardless of what the situation at hand may be, it helps to have access to a workplace that feels comfortable and inviting. By inserting yourself an environment that feels homey, you’re inherently easing the natural tension that comes with the territory of a typical workplace.

The idea of creating a “natural” workplace seems to be a rather vague goal; after all, what exactly goes into making a workplace feel “natural” anyways? A good place to start is by keeping your office tidy and organized. As a company that manufactures a variety of dry erase boards that can help you better organize your workplace, we like to think we have a pretty good idea as to what works when it comes to the ins and outs of organizing your office. That’s why we’ve put together a list of six tips for cleaning your workspace using the 6S methods our customers live by.

Seiri (Sorting)

The first step of any cleaning initiative should involve eliminating clutter from the designated area. The same can be said for the manufacturing industry as well; if your shop floor has a collection of unused machinery or unused shelf space, you’d want to get rid of it, wouldn’t you? So go ahead and pick up the stack of papers that have been sitting in the corner of your desk for the past six months, they are only adding to the problem.

Continue reading 5S Outside The Factory: Learning To Organize Your Life