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Successful Implementations in Lean

MassMEP Lean Champion Roundtable Series: Continuous Improvement Process Measures Up at Invensys Process Systems, Part 1

By Karen Myhaver, Outreach Specialist, MassMEP

MassMEP client companies host Roundtables on a quarterly basis and share their Lean journey with the public. During the event, company representatives outline their journey, including the successes and struggles. These events are a lean knowledge-sharing event and the company provides a plant tour for attendees. 

Recently, Invensys Process Systems, Foxboro Division, hosted a roundtable to talk about their various divisions that have undergone a Lean transformation.  The following article is part 1 of 2 outlining their Lean journey and transformation in the different departments. Part 2 will appear in the January newsletter. If you are interested in attending future Lean Roundtables, please contact Kathie Mahoney at [email protected] or 508-831-7020.

Growth of 20% over the last two years and a 50% increase in capacity are just a sample of the positive impacts that Invensys Process Systems (IPS), M&I Division, shared at a recent MassMEP Lean Champions Roundtable. The event drew participants from many area companies who wanted to hear about the challenges and successes of IPS’s Lean implementation and Continuous Improvement programs. The century-old company, located in Foxboro, Massachusetts, has been working with the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) on their Continuous Improvement Initiative. IPS Process and Product Manager, Kevin Dailida, welcomed the group and highlighted some of the group’s accomplishments.

Mike Godek, Vice President of Manufacturing, explained that the five original buildings on the site date back to 1908 when The Foxboro Company began manufacturing devices for measurement and instrumentation. The Foxboro Company flourished until the late ’70s and then started feeling the effects of competition. During the ’90s, they were acquired by Siebe, Plc; then, with the acquisition of BTR, the name was changed to Invensys. IPS Manufacturing is made up of seven manufacturing locations in Massachusetts, California, Mexico, France, Germany, and China. These facilities support Invensys Process Systems global customer base through the manufacture and distribution of Foxboro and Triconex field devices and controls.

Training the Entire Workforce
Not so long ago, Invensys was asking tough questions. How could IPS, Foxboro drive change and work to see improvements to the bottom line? With constantly increasing pricing pressure, how could they stay competitive and get product to the customer faster?

Dave Fournier, Senior Manufacturing Engineer at IPS, Foxboro saw that, over the years, most of the Continuous Improvement strategies became "the flavor of the month." Even their Six Sigma program was looked at by management as simply a way to cut costs. Communication was lacking and people were not on-board.

The average employee at IPS Foxboro has been with the company for 25 years, making it easy to return to the old ways without someone to lead the change. Interest in Lean was invigorated briefly when Bruce A. Henderson, who wrote Lean Transformation, became President of IPS, but diminished when he left in 2001. A consultant who was assisting the company with some specialized training realized the benefit in training the entire workforce and suggested they apply for a grant.

In 2005, IPS obtained a $270,000 Workforce Training Fund grant and began utilizing the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) as a provider of Lean training. The 350 Foxboro employees participated in TimeWise Lean 101 basic Lean training to become familiar with Lean terms and tools. Rick Bowie, MassMEP Lead Project Manager and other MEP associates facilitated many Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and Kaizen activities with IPS teams to train them to carry out these processes on their own. Kevin Dailida joined IPS in 2007 as their Lean Champion and Product and Process Improvement Manager. He strives to keep people focused and has been a key link to management. Kevin implemented a Lean Steering Committee and extended training to Lean teams in the business units.

Beat the Competition, Satisfy the Client
The Pressure Business Unit produces pressure transmitters. To satisfy their customers, they needed a more systematic approach and a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. Employee teams studied their 42 products and determined how much lead time and inventory was required to meet client demand. They changed layouts, introduced supermarkets, visual signals, and color coding, and incorporated a Heijunka box to average the volume and sequence of the different model types on the production line.

"Equipment was rearranged and added and the willingness of employees to participate was wonderful," said Kevin. "It was the key to the success of our new layouts."

A VSM of the calibration process identified 50 non-value added activities out of 129 process steps. Assigning dedicated lines and using flow through Kanban racks improved flow in the area. Point-of-use storage (POUS) storage was established and conveyors linked areas to reduce operator travel. The Pressure business unit allows themselves 24 hours to respond to the customer and the result has been a significant increase in business. This initiative was named "Rocket 24" as product is out the door in 24 hours!

Continued Employee Effort without Management Involvement
In the Mag Fab cell, they fabricate the metal tubes used in IPS’ flow meter product. A cross functional team of employees held a 5S event and literally shut down the unit for three days to reorganize, remove, recycle, clean, and dispose of unused/unnecessary items. By partnering with their material group and associated vendors, they were able to eliminate the paint on the flanges that the operators previously had to burn off before fabrication. 

Over 1,248 sq ft of reclaimed floor space allowed the relocation of an additional welding area from another location in the facility. As a result, overall productivity within the cell increased by 20%. The success was the continued effort from area employees to keep the improvements moving forward without a management directive.

"It was very interesting to hear that a large organization like Invensys, Foxboro, went through some of the same problems that we encountered. We certainly don’t have the same resources, but we see some of the same spark in our employees that I saw here in the Foxboro employees. Our ability to document our progress sometimes wanes but the spirit of Lean is still here. If fact, we just did an administrative 5S by shredding company records, some go back thirty plus years!"
— Guest, John Corcoran, General/Purchasing Manager, Valentine Tool and Stamping

Part 2 of the Invensys Lean Roundtable article will appear in the January 2009 issue.


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