Over 200 color variations of natural rubber latex tubing are produced at our Kent, OH facility and are available to our customers. The color matching process starts in Kent with our compounding department and continues throughout the production process ending its journey in Winesburg, OH. There are many variables during this process that affect the color matching of our tubing – without a streamlined process, these variables can lead to prolonged time consumed for each step and a larger margin of error.
For a recent Kaizen, our team’s first goal was to reduce the scrap from incorrect colors by reviewing the color matching process. They also wanted to develop a filing and removal system for color matching cards on the production floor. Their final goal was to find a better way to mark and identify the color of each small machine while in production. Over the course of three days, our team identified issues which affected compounding, production, and the overall process.
For compounding, the team identified that the drawer of color samples in our Kent facility was not consistent – with many variations of the same color, old samples and an unorganized storage system. To solve these issues, samples were sorted and organized in a new filing system. Next, our team determined that our color mixing area was not being properly maintained, so they better organized the area and established a labeling system involving a sample of each color.
A new system was developed to mark machines with the correct color by utilizing a metal sheet to store magnetic labels. The color matching table was also redesigned for organization and convenience. For old color cards, a filing system was established. Another issue identified in this area was that when multiple machines ran the same color previously, only one card was used as a marker. If a color didn’t match, our team didn’t know which machine was wrong. To fix this, our team established a way to mark cards for each machine.
Overall Process Improvements
Our team made changes to the color matching procedures to affect a better outcome in the overall process. The Kaizen team suggested training for all team members to ensure color samples are always matched to the original samples. Since there was previously no way to know the temperature in the oven used to dry samples, our team also established temperature markings and had labels made.
Through all of these efforts, our Kaizen team has helped KEP cut down on wasted time and error during color matching for our tubing. Thank you for helping us streamline our process and impact cost savings!