We reached out to Wade Stauffer, Plant Supervisor at our Asheboro EG-GILERO manufacturing location once again, to hear firsthand how his plant is incorporating the techniques and tools of Six Sigma into their operating and manufacturing process. While they are still creating the foundation of this new way of working, they’ve clearly had some wins. Let’s learn more about what Wade and his team are doing.
The first step is creating more communication
Wade, a certified Master Black Belt in Six Sigma, is currently leading the charge in implementing this problem-solving methodology plant-wide. Used by many global corporations, Six Sigma is an initiative popularized by Motorola and uses a set of management techniques to improve business processes by reducing the probability that an error or defect will occur.
Wade began incorporating Six Sigma by creating new communication streams among all employees in his plant. The intent was for everyone to better understand the current state of what was happening on any press on any given day. The goal was to identify and better understand whatever defect or deviation from standard might be happening – whether it was missing a standard, using too much material, having too much scrap, or having extended cycle times.
Production boards were created and are now used at all shift meetings when management meets with their different groups. Each production board is populated with individual squares that represent a press. Each square contains information on that press such as what jobs are currently running, what jobs are coming up next, the employees manning the job, the quality of the runs, and any performance issues. Everyone is encouraged to add or update the board based on their experience on that shift, as it’s considered a critical aspect of their job. From the production boards, Wade’s teams have been able to identify and quickly act on any potential problems. The boards have increased accountability and ownership of the press’ output for that day, and have ultimately given each individual more control and overall responsibility.
Using Six Sigma to better understand necessary corrective action
Another technique that has helped employees adapt this new way of thinking and working involves training on how to better read and fill out any corrective action form. European customers use different forms than US customers, and even within the US there is variance in the layout and fields on the form. By first using the Six Sigma problem solving process of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control, or the DMAIC process, an employee can better fill out the form, explain any deviations from standard, and solve problems with their customers.
Six Sigma and validating business use cases
Recently, Wade’s plant took on a new healthcare client, and Six Sigma was used to successfully transition the company from their old manufacturer of medical devices to EG-GILERO. The customer was understandably nervous with making sure the same level of quality would be reproduced, so Wade’s team got to work on creating a master validation plan that incorporated a considerable amount of statistics used in Six Sigma. With this, they could create a baseline of what processes would be used and the output they would create, versus what they were getting from their previous contract manufacturer. This plan was especially useful in identifying the changes and specifications that needed to be revised to better meet client goals and expectations. For the client, this was a win/win as they ended up with a more efficient and productive press run.
Implementing the tools and techniques of Six Sigma is just one of the many changes happening at EG-GILERO, and we appreciate Wade for sharing with us how his plant is transitioning into this new way of working. We welcome all comments and questions, and be sure to follow our blog or check out our Twitter feed to stay up to speed on what we have coming up next.