Automotive Parts: OEM


Changing from one shift to another was creating long periods of low or no production. Since this was a three shift operation with shift changes averaging 30 minutes three times per day, this became a costly and destructive routine. Cell “purging” (consuming all WIP without leaving work “in cue” for the next shift), was also a common practice to meet or exceed each shift’s specific production goals.

Lean Solutions:

Working with the teams (across all 3 shifts), we devised a changeover process that would minimize downtime and allow for adequate cleaning and maintenance of equipment in the work area. Procedures were agreed upon, posted, trained, and adopted. The new procedure required all employees to spend the first 10 minutes of his or her shift cleaning the work area they would be working in, servicing equipment (where possible), and communicating with the operator they would be replacing regarding special concerns or critical information. All of these duties were performed while the operator from the earlier shift continued to run the equipment or complete work processes assigned. “Purging” the cell was discontinued so that in-coming operators could begin at each work station with work already waiting for them. Out-going operators would finish paperwork and minor cleaning only after their replacement was in position and working. Very appropriately, we referred to this new shift change methodology as the “Tap On The Shoulder Shift Change.”

Lean Impact/Results:

Adding 1 1/2 hours of production up-time to a high velocity manufacturing plant yields incredible and powerful results. Streamlining the shift change process in this one cell increased much needed capacity by more than $1 million annually. This process was adopted as the official, plant-wide, shift change protocol. We never calculated the plant-wide impact of implementing the “Tap On The Shoulder Shift Change,” but experience tells us that many of the other 45 cells were enduring similar losses in production prior to its implementation. It was common speculation that this one change in procedures was worth tens of millions to the company annually.

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