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Successful Implementations in Lean

Lean Tools Paint a Colorful Future for California Products

California Products Experiences Increase in Productivity, Reduction in Changeover Time

By Karen Myhaver, Outreach Specialist, MassMEP

California Products Corporation's Plant Manager, Luis Hernandez, had experience with process improvement and Six Sigma and knew that the company could benefit from Lean manufacturing to help eliminate waste. When it came time to introduce Lean concepts plantwide, Luis called on the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Mass MEP) and project manager Dave Hess. 

California Paints was started back in the 1920's and evolved as an industry leader in the development of latex house paint, exterior wood stains, and computerized color systems. Now known as California Products Corporation (CPC) they are located in Andover, Massachusetts, and include three divisions: California Paints, Plexipave Sport Surfacing, and Deco Turf.

Mass MEP was able to assist CPC in applying for a Workforce Training Fund Grant to help with training costs. It was imperative that everyone at the company speak the same lean language but, trying to sell the idea of Lean training and schedule events to accommodate many on-the-road sales people was especially challenging.  Seventy-seven of the 110 employees in the company attended the basic Lean awareness training for the Process Industry, the Time Wise LE107. The owners, heads of the paint divisions and sales, along with manufacturing floor staff, took part in four of these eight-hour events, which combined classroom and hands-on simulation. They all got involved and enjoyed the training.

50% Reduction in Changeover Time
It was important that the first project they did after this introductory training was successful because it would be a benchmark for both management and employees. Work began on the Five Gallon Line which produces the five gallon pails of paint that contractors use. Here they were plagued by lengthy changeover times with an average of 30-40 minutes of down time each.

Changeover procedures have many variables and batch number and sizes vary. The procedure requires flushing out the lines and washing out all the hoppers, tubs, pumps, and equipment, checking fill levels and loading bar coding and labeling machines, and then sending samples to the lab for testing before a single pail of the next batch could be manufactured. 

With Mass MEP guidance, an employee team was formed to do a Value Stream Map (VSM) of the changeover process. This included videotaping the two individuals who worked on the line to see what tasks they performed. The videotape illustrated an unbalanced workload. By redistributing some changeover tasks to the individuals who do the labeling and palletizing, the work became more evenly balanced. The team also looked at the number of samples the lab rejected annually and determined that this happened so rarely that most changeover tasks would no longer have to wait for testing. By doing this, they gained 15 minutes. And since productivity at the plant is measured in gallons per man-hours, they made testing the samples from the filling line priority in the lab so production would not be held up.

Through these and other mapping activities, the team discovered the areas of waste which needed attention, initiated Kaizen activities, and made improvements. The result was a reduction in changeover time to about 17 minutes!

Eliminating the hand filling process and including these small jobs on the fill line, helped improve productivity and safety since employees are no longer lifting and stacking 60lb. pails of paint on pallets.

Increased Capacity = New Opportunities
Increased capacity at California Products Corporation will help the company take on 30-35% more work when they begin producing paint for a new customer in early 2008. It also gives them the freedom to fill smaller batches on the line, significantly reducing the need for hand filling.

Productivity is up about 6% and there have been significant cost savings through the improvements made to the changeover process. Paint waste was reduced and production efficiencies were improved.

On the Gallon Line, the cans flow through the labeling and packaging process without bottlenecks so damaged cans and labeling problems have declined and machines keep running.

"Dave Hess is very knowledgeable and gave us lots of great ideas like mounting white boards along the line for employees to leave notes for maintenance about problems that need to be fixed," said Hernandez." The problem stays written on the board until the employee who wrote it down is satisfied that it has been resolved. It is working out very well. The team from Mass MEP was great to work with."

Company Profile
In 1926, California Paints began manufacturing stuccos and colored plasters from their plant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They were instrumental in the development of latex house paint, exterior wood stains, and computerized color systems. They continue to lead their industry with cutting edge ideas and top quality honors. In 2000, they built a new facility in Andover, Massachusetts, which is now home to California Products Corporation and includes their three divisions: California Paints, Plexipave Sport Surfacing, and Deco Turf which manufacture sports and court surfacing systems. There are approximately 110 employees at the facility.

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