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How One Factory is Using Equipment Maintenance to Promote Continuous Improvement

How One Factory is Using Equipment Maintenance to Promote Continuous Improvement

Thu Feb 9 2017
By: Mike P

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.

One method the company uses to promote continuous improvement is partaking in regular restoration events that are focused on restoring old equipment to a like-new condition. The results are twofold: On one hand, machinery is being frequently audited to minimize equipment setbacks. While looking at it from another perspective, the restoration events also increase employee participation, encouraging employees on the shop floor to embrace leadership responsibilities—a major focus of the SPS culture.

Up until just recently, the multi-staged restoration processes were managed with the help of project timelines and spreadsheets. However, with schedules differing between management and the workforce—added to the technology barrier of the pre-established scheduling tools—determining who’s in charge of a specific renovation and understanding the projects current standpoint became a process clouded with uncertainty.

Today the restoration process is handled much differently: with Magnatag Visible Systems’ line of Step and Stage StatusTracker Whiteboards mapping every step of the restoration process. The whiteboard functions as a comprehensive overview of the restoration event, covering every necessary action for up to 128 pieces of machinery.

Kept in one central location known simply as the ‘SPS room’, employees are encouraged to visit the whiteboard throughout the day to get a sense for the working storyboard of the restoration process.

“We like to think of the restoration process as a way of teaching people on the shop floor what to do with the equipment” said Parker, “It’s a preventative measure we take in furthering the culture we have set in place. The whiteboards are exactly what we’re looking for when it comes to events like this, as they are highly visual and easier to manage as a collective. It’s really a great way for us to look forward as a department and bring attention to the important details.”

Members of the Sonoco management team expect that individual steps of the renewal process are to be marked as needed using the whiteboard’s magnetic status tracking symbols; meaning employees can build momentum as they continue along the auditing process, while simultaneously bringing attention to tasks that need to be completed.

To learn more about how our Project StatusTracker dry erase systems can work for your factory, visit our website or give us a call at (800) 624-4154

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