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AME: Best Practices

Synventive Molding Solutions: Staging a Comeback Using Lean

By Karen Myhaver, MassMEP

Mission: To enable our customer’s success through the application of advanced injection molding technologies, best-of-class engineering and unparalleled customer support.

For over 25 years, Synventive has pioneered the research and development of hot runner systems, machine nozzles, sprue bushings, and temperature controllers for the injection molding industry.  With manufacturing, service, and support operations around the world, the company has become a global leader in their industry. Their corporate headquarters in Peabody Massachusetts. Manufacturing facilities in Peabody, China, and Germany make up Synventive Molding Solutions which was formed from a blending three companies: KONA, Dynisco, and Eurotool. This company is a leader in developing solutions for injection molding applications that utilize hot runner systems like the automotive, medical, electronics, telecommunications, consumer/industrial, PET, and packaging industries. Today, Synventive’s commitment to providing high quality and robust systems is one element that makes the company so successful. However, this has not always been the case.

Synventive is a company that has done a complete turn around by utilizing the building blocks of Lean. A few years ago this company realized they needed to change with the industry’s higher demands. Over 200 employees worked two shifts, yet the company was losing ground. By dedicating themselves to Lean principals, Synventive has recuperated and prospered. Some processes they successfully practice are cross-functional leadership, total preventive maintenance, operator certification, five S, set up reduction, and value stream mapping.

Total Preventive Maintenance
Over a two-year period and with total buy-in and dedication of management and the workforce, the company has made quite a comeback. They credit their success to a focus on five key areas. To begin, Synventive Molding Solutions has a Total Preventive Maintenance system in place and it really works!! Operators have taken on more responsibility for regular upkeep of their machinery and instead of calling the maintenance department when there was a problem and facing downtime, the machines are checked and maintained on regular schedules and most problems are avoided. Downtime has been significantly reduced.

Self Certification
An Operator Self Certification Program is in place for quality. Machine operators test and qualify themselves periodically and are held accountable. If they do not make the grade they must undergo more frequent and rigid testing and additional training. This certification goes along with Total Preventative Maintenance. The operators should know their machines and should be accountable for watching out for potential problems. It only makes sense.

Tool Dispensing
Synventive participates in Supply-Pro, a computer-run tool dispensing system comprised of tooling cabinets with a computer on top. When an operator needs a particular tool, he looks it up on the computer and selects it. A light blinks on the cabinet drawer in which the tool is located and allows the operator to open only that drawer and remove the tool. The computer charges the tool to a particular job number and to that operator. Once a week, the vendor comes in and fills in any empty spaces in the tool cabinets. Synventive is billed for the tooling they use. This has done a lot to eliminate cluttered work stations and makes employees take better care of their equipment.

Design for Manufacture
This company has a very reactive engineering program that is responsive and in tune with the needs of the shop floor. The imaginary walls between the departments have come down. Engineers and designers work hand in hand with the shop employees on new ideas to make sure the designs are practical and will function for those who have to use them.

Pull Production
Lean Methodology is evident throughout the facility. Metrics are evident on the shop floor. There is no work in progress (WIP) anywhere to be seen. The shop is neat and clean with many shadowboards and other markings and designations. People put things where they belong. There is no clutter. Machines are run only when they are needed to produce only what is needed. Production is to the pull of the customer.

Increase in Sales, Decrease in Lead Time
Through this lean transformation, Synventive Molding Solutions has been able to show an increase in sales and decrease their lead-time from 8 weeks to 4 weeks and then to 2 weeks (called KONA X-Press Hotrunner Delivery). These significant improvements were achieved with one 120 people on one shift.

During the AME tour in October, Synventive tackled one of the hardest issues of Lean. They tried to level the workload by partnering with customers. However, since Synventive provides custom designs, the products are of a high mix, low volume nature. This is not an easy environment to level the workload. However, due to their short lead times, Production Control has been able to review orders and level the workloads. This has even further increased the efficiencies in both Design and the shop floor.

With the success they have seen in the past few years, there are no initiatives they feel they can’t accomplish.


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