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Case Studies - General Manufacturing

Case Study #4:
Productivity: Seeing is Believing!

Tire Manufacturer Wants to Keep Production Rolling

An international manufacturer of tires with plants throughout the world was looking to not only develop fleet utilization and production standards but increase awareness throughout all levels of employees. With a fleet size of 53 material handling vehicles including counterbalance lift trucks, order pickers, electric pallet trucks and personal carriers and 16 specific manufacturing and shipping processes and pathways, maximising asset application is always a metric for improvement. Understanding that simply relying on old methods and purchasing vehicles whenever a gap in production occurs was not a practical and or sustainable way to go to business.

Production Happens in Seconds

Throwing additional assets at production gaps brings with it a number of cost residuals. Are the assets really required? Are they the root cause of the production gap? Almost all modern manufacturing processes that utilize stage manufacturing and rely on supply chain partnerships to fulfill have production variables that range in the hundreds and possibly thousands. Understanding the relation and impact is quite a task. Focusing on the impact surrounding vehicle usage in the plant this global manufacturer was looking for a way to capture total production time and put it on display in real time. Like most manufacturing facilities working with ISO standards benchmarks are collected and displayed in public forum but bridging the connection with the many shift operators was proving difficult. Almost all vehicle utilization systems provided uptime in terms of runtime vs idling. The problem with this metric is that production happens in seconds and even a gap of less than 30 seconds can be the result of several different factors at any specific time.

Driving Results through Visibility

The first approach to maximizing utilization was to get away from analyzing vehicle usage metrics alone. Instead assign the vehicle a utilization factor and look for barriers that prevent achievement. Working with a range of factors, allows operation engineers to asses production variables, make changes and deliver improvement strategies. To begin with each vehicle was fitted with the appropriate IVDT myKPI series that detects vehicle operation and allows a utilization factor to be pre-set. When the vehicle is working within and contributing to the desired utilization factor it is business as usual.
When a gap is detected outside the utilization factor a yellow strobe is visible to all in eyesight range. As a reporting function the system records the duration of operational downtime and its time of occurrence. Factoring utilization in seconds allowed this manufacturer to understand its true vehicle usage in relation to production and identify improvement strategies such as critical pathways, product staging, process connection, asset deployment and operator behaviour. The impact of the strobe brought awareness to the people on the production floor which made for better insight into the weekly KPI metrics. Working as team not, separate roles and responsibilities, valuable insight was able to contribute to realizing not just the causes of the current the utilization factor but improving utilization factors of 75% or better. Achieving utilization factors around 80% for lift trucks meant redefining certain processes and eliminating 7 vehicles. Personal carriers are unique and specific in their usage. However, moving certain production areas closer together allowed for shared usage which meant the reduction from 8 vehicles to 3 and a utilization factor improving from less than 30% to 60%. myKPI provides all reports simply via USB. The system takes approximately 1 hour to install with the connection of 2 wires and literally requires no operator involvement beyond awareness. The system can be as simple and specific as represented above or provide several safety and productivity options. myKPI goes to work immediately.
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