Home About MAC
The Next Generation Manufacturer Newsletter
Upcoming Programs Contact Us Send a Letter to the Editor

Growth Manufacturers Case Study

Change is Good at Yankee Candle Manufacturing

By Shawn Shea, Operations Leader – Jar Production, Yankee Candle

Kaizen is from the Japanese word "kai" which means "change" or "to correct" and "zen" which means "good."

In June 2012, a cross-functional team was formed at Yankee Candle to hold a Kaizen event with a mandate to reduce the changeover time by 50% on one of our high volume production lines. Recent upgrades to increase our versatility on that line created additional processes that increased the complexity and average changeover time for certain product transitions.

With the guidance of representatives from MassMEP, the team learned some of the tools to use during the Kaizen process. We videotaped the entire process, timed each of the specific steps, and measured the distances covered by the machine operators during a changeover. After reviewing and analyzing the collected data, we brainstormed possible solutions and developed a plan to experiment with some of the suggested changes. After five full event days with lots of experimenting in-between, we had a new process that not only cut our changeover time, but reduced our scrap wax and reduced the physical strain on our operators.

By the end of July, after the new methods from the Kaizen event had been in place for several weeks and all the operators had been trained, we were able to exceed the mandate of a 50% changeover time reduction and hit the 54% mark. During August, that percentage moved even higher – to 60%! The time savings directly and positively impact our ability to manufacture additional candles with our well known quality while maintaining a safe work environment.

This Kaizen process shows the impact that can be made with a properly trained cross-functional team that is focused on a particular goal. Many thanks to the team (see picture) that worked very hard to exceed that mandate.