KEP is always looking for ways to increase the efficiency of our lean manufacturing and help cut costs for our customers. We went to work for one of our medical and surgical industry customers to find ways to reduce waste and further streamline our manufacturing processes. This customer has historically low scrap and reject rates, however, we determined that we should re-examine processes to identify ways to lessen double handling. To address the action of completing processes more times than necessary, we put together a Kaizen team consisting of employees from our Kent, Winesburg, and Mogadore facilities.

The Kaizen team was tasked with determining methods and resources needed to relocate the final processing and packaging of the customer’s products from our processing and assembly facility in Winesburg to Kent, where the products are manufactured.

Identifying Goals and Processes

The team identified the following goals:

1. Determine future state map and process flow
2. Determine all supplies and tools needed
3. Create written instructions for the new process
4. Make and test a roll-out plan

To eliminate double handling that occurred while piece counting in Winesburg, the team determined that the new process should include counting while stripping dip-molded parts in the Kent facility. To do so, maintenance added a handle to the dip plates to prevent scrapping parts while handling the plates. Parts are then processed in smaller sublots which are audited in Kent. After this process, the Kent auditor does the final packaging of all inspected and approved parts. Rejected sublots are sent to Winesburg for sorting.

Seeing Successful Results

This new audit and packaging process further reduces double handling, eliminates the need for a final audit, and increases productivity – producing an additional 209 pieces per hour. As each box of packaged parts is completed, it is then sent to Winesburg to be directly added to the customer’s Kanban. To address all traceability and labeling requirements, the team also created new labels, procedures and forms.

After a new process was developed, the team performed a trial run and completed team training. A one-year review verified that the changed process was successful and effective for reducing double handling.

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