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Successful Implementations in Lean

Lean Champion Roundtable: Continuous Improvement Process Measures Up at Invensys, Part 2

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 2 of 2 outlining their Lean journey and transformation in the different departments. Part 1 appeared in the December newsletter. If you are interested in attending future Lean Roundtables, please contact Kathie Mahoney at [email protected] or 508-831-7020.

Productivity Improved 25%
The Echem division of Invensys produces measurement equipment and sensors used in the chemical industry. Prior to their Lean program, the work area was crammed with workbenches and product mainly traveled in batches. Training and area flexibility was weak. The company suffered from long lead times for key products (2+ weeks) and encountered team related issues.

As part of the company’s Lean implementation, products that shared similar elements were grouped for production on a single line and a cellular layout was developed to increase space and flexibility. Employees were cross-trained and now rotate jobs on a daily basis (which had an added benefit of helping to resolve most of the team issues). Rocket 24 (their "ship in 24 hours" initiative) was implemented for the high priority Dolphin product.

Echem also saw great success utilizing a software package to assist with their Kanban management. Today, a Kanban review process helps "right size" hundreds of parts and has improved communication between suppliers and the assembly areas. With process monitoring measures in place, managers are freed up to manage the exceptions and are not bogged down with all the details. Key results of the Echem kaizens were:

  • 40% less floor space  for operations
  • 25% productivity improvement
  • Lead times on key products cut more than 50%

Take Time to Work Successfully
In the Traditional area, Invensys has been making small quantities of the same highly crafted products for 50 years. Many of the products are pneumatic which require no electricity. 5s and visual workplace standards were tools that this particular area excelled in. Employee-managed 5S teams dedicated one hour a week for the entire team to focus on the area of their choice. The teams have seen dramatic results and the area has been used as a 5S benchmark for other areas within the facility.

In addition, Kanbans, color coding, and shadow boards have been implemented throughout. Area layouts have been reviewed on multiple occasions. As a result, work cells have been formed and now operate in about one quarter of the floor space originally allocated to the group. The department’s Rocket 24 product — the E69 sub assemblies — are calibrated, configured and shelved with their options so they can be picked and assembled as needed…within 24 hours. Materials are tagged with bar coded Kanban cards for inventory. Normally, they ship 40-60 pieces per week but have increased capacity and can now handle 70-80.

Management Supports Employee Ideas
The IPS Foxboro Machining Shop has initiated 5s, supplier partnerships, and Kanban’s as part of its improvement efforts. It was one of the last areas to get involved in continuous improvement but has become one of the leaders in applying the concepts. Weekly 5S schedules and focused team efforts reinforce the changes.

One day per week (team’s choice) they are able to shut down a cell for 2-3 hours to make improvements without any major impact on production. In addition, the second shift was integrated into the effort and applied the tools to a specific cell over a number of nights. Conditions in the shop have significantly improved. People are taking pride in their areas and on the machines they operate. It is easier to keep the place clean and organized once it has been done right.

In addition to the 5S efforts, an employee team attended a seminar on new tooling and machine rates, then provided training to other operators. Management has established a comfort level with machinists and supports them in trying out new ideas in order to make improvements. This was a major culture change.

The tooling productivity efforts have yielded some significant results:

  • Improved roughing mill cut rates: from 20" per minute to 200" per minute with an increase in tool life.
  • Reduced machining costs by 90% on key pressure components
  • Brought outsourced parts in-house; produced savings of $600,000, $14 per part
  • Worked with suppliers to create a tooling Kanban which suppliers replenish

After 4 Tries, Change in Culture Made the Difference

"This was Invensys’ fourth or fifth attempt at trying to do Lean with the same workforce. They were successful this time because there was a change in culture. It was the facilitation — actually taking the employees out to do the work on the floor. The workforce was asked to participate and get involved. That was the difference. They had used consultants and steering committees previously, but did very little on the floor facilitation. The company invested in their own Lean training materials and frequently initiates new projects. Work is ongoing." Rick Bowie, MassMEP, Lead Project Manager

This time Continuous Improvement was integrated to all employees and tied to business unit goals. Invensys has grown 20% in the past two years. Sales per employee are up and inventory is down. Inventory turns went from 3.75 to just under 9, with a goal of 12+ turns across 7 businesses. Capacity has increased by 50% and DPM (defects per million) is now approaching Six Sigma.

The newest Invensys President instituted a company wide Continuous Improvement Program.  Now that the company has turned the corner, expectations have changed and continuous improvement is one of the vehicles that is being used to move them forward. Shareholders want to see growth. Communication is vital – everyone is encouraged to discuss what works and share ideas.

"If we had listened better to our employees in the first place, we would not have had to go back and fix so many things," stated Kevin Dailida, Invensys (IPS) Lean Champion and Product and Process Improvement Manager. "Don’t hesitate to take risks and try ideas, live with the changes for a while, and then refine them."

MassMEP assisted IPS with training in 5s, Kaizen, Value Stream Mapping, and Le101Basic Lean. Once their grant funding was depleted Invensys teams were prepared to continue the teaching internally and to broaden their scope into sales and engineering. They are moving forward with Total Preventative Maintenance (TPM), work procedures, standardization, and problem solving. IPS formed a Lean Steering Committee in 2007. It is a committee of employees with no hierarchy and a customer focus. Regular communication in the form of message boards, quarterly Town Hall meetings, along with updates and recognition keeps everyone informed and involved. Employees take pride in their facility and in making sure it is always tour ready. All new hires are trained in continuous improvement techniques.

"I was impressed with all the effort that was put into changing the culture. The recognition boards, the idea cards, and the scratch tickets are all great ways to build cooperation and increase buy-in. The Lean committee is also a great idea. With more people dedicating their time, more will get done. It is also quite an achievement to carry the Lean philosophy and methods throughout each (IPS) facility. That shows that Invensys’ dedication extends all the way to the upper management." Guest, John Lima, Continuous Improvement Specialist. Dale Medical

Today, Invensys is on an excellent path. They can beat offshore pricing and have been able to move some production processes back to the US from lower cost geographies. They are differentiating themselves in the market and their mantra is "Rocket 24—Ship it out the Door", which has them beating the competition with guaranteed 24 hour shipping!

Invensys is by no means at the end of their Lean journey. It is, after all, continuous improvement. They had to do things differently to survive. They had to make it difficult to outsource.

Invensys Process Systems (IPS) supplies process control instrumentation for measuring pressure, flow, temperature, pH, and other critical variables to clients who provide fuel, power, light, energy, and healthcare to the population. Simply stated, process control involves M & I (measurement and instrumentation) which measures and takes readings, DCS – the Distributed Control System –a computerized brain that decides what needs to be done based on information gathered from readings, then, Process Output Control which signals a valve to open or close to compensate as needed. These systems are especially important in critical environments like oil refineries or nuclear plants. The electronics (boards) for these systems are assembled in IPS’ facilities in China and Mexico but are configured into DCS systems and tested in Massachusetts. IPS also supports process manufacturing, business operation, enterprise performance, and other plant optimizing solutions with software, technology, and consulting.

Part 1 of this article can be read at Continuous Improvement Process Measures Up at Invensys Process Systems, Part 1.


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