A warehouse manager taking notes on a notepad while in a warehouse.

Solving Production Inefficiencies Through the DMAIC Process

by Brian Jaenke, on February 06, 2023
On January 25, 2023, Landrum Workforce Management hosted an event in partnership with GE Pensacola, the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council, and FloridaMakes. The purpose of the event was to showcase a successful Lean supermarket that our team developed, implemented and currently manages at the GE Pensacola site.

Attendees of the event included a dozen leaders from other local Florida manufacturers. During the event, attendees were given a tour, along with a presentation, walking through how our team utilized the DMAIC process to address production inefficiencies at the GE Pensacola facility.

Below, we recap the key points from the event and summarize how we navigated the DMAIC process to improve production output for GE Pensacola.

Defining the Problem

At the onset of the project, we listened to site leadership members at GE outline a situation where multiple lines involved in product assembly were repeatedly not receiving their required parts. This information was confirmed after reviewing Key Performance Indicator (KPI) data that was available on a Gemba board.

The KPI in this scenario that needed to be improved was On-Time Delivery (OTD). With the target KPI established, our team had what it needed to move onto the measurement stage.

Measuring the Impact

Along with reviewing the data found on the Gemba board, over a period of two weeks, we conducted in-depth documentation of the full assembly process for the product.

This documentation process included:
  • Creating a scheduling board
  • Tracking additional data including takt time
  • Completing cycle time studies
  • Reviewing labor resources
Through this additional layer of data collection and observation, our team was able to establish clear and accurate baseline data on which to improve. Furthermore, we could now assess what was causing the core issue.

Analyzing the Data

After analyzing the data collected through our own measurement exercises and what was provided by GE, we identified a few issues.
  1. In multiple instances, the Machine-Head line was receiving more parts than it needed. The entire assembly of this product was built to operate as a just-in-time (JIT) production system. By receiving surplus parts at this line, the operation was acting as a batch process, causing problems elsewhere.
  2. The over-delivery of parts to the Machine-Head line was causing an under-delivery of materials in other areas.
  3. At shift transition, incoming shifts reported that the previous shift was not appropriately organizing the workspace for optimal production.  
  4. The Andon system was reporting numerous misses in terms of OTDs. However, during our observation, the data being reported by the Andon system wasn’t aligning with what we were witnessing.
With these issues in mind, we set out to improve the situation and implement a viable solution.

Improving the Conditions

Upon identifying the causes of the issues, we determined that replicating the production process through a Lean supermarket would allow our team to accurately pilot a viable solution. To do this, we built a separate staging area for the supermarket that mirrored the live production bays. The build process included creating material trays that mirrored the products being produced in the live bays.

After the supermarket was built, we began reenacting the production process to improve the conditions that were causing OTDs to be missed in the live production bays. Through multiple rounds of testing, we made adjustments to the process that successfully improved OTD in all bays.
Adjustments that we made during this phase included:
  • Optimized how materials were organized within trays for maximum efficiency
  • Created additional inspection points for bay leaders
  • Developed customized process audits for supervisors to complete and review
  • Restructured the workspace for the Machine-Head line to achieve optimal productivity
Once desired results were achieved in the staging area, we implemented the same changes in the live production bays. Because the supermarket was built to match the live production areas, transitioning the changes from staging was smooth and issue-free.

Controlling the Process

With the necessary changes implemented to the Machine-Head line, as well as the other production bays, we closely monitored OTD and other key metrics over several weeks. Through observation and data collection, we identified a significant improvement in OTD across each shift.

Due to the positive impact, the changes we made became permanent implementations within this production line.

Need Help Solving Inefficiencies in Your Workplace?

Resolving production inefficiencies can be a major undertaking with numerous challenges along the way. Our team at Landrum Workforce Management has the knowledge and expertise you need to accomplish this difficult task.

We take the time to fully understand your issue so that we can identify and implement the right solution. Regardless of your challenges, our team is prepared to support you.
Contact our team to learn more about how our workforce management services can help you solve critical production needs.
Brian Jaenke

Brian Jaenke currently serves as the Director of Continuous Improvement for Landrum Workforce Management. He received his degree in aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and has over twenty years’ experience working in a variety of industrial and operational settings. His passion is laser-focused on improving efficiency at all levels of manufacturing using Key Performance Indicators as a measure of success around People, Safety, Quality, Productivity, Delivery, Inventory, and Cost. He has developed his own tailored approach toward lean manufacturing—piggybacking off the Toyota Production System and Six Sigma principles that has proven to be quantifiably successful with several of our existing clients here at LandrumHR. He believes that this customizable lean approach bridges the gap between people and processes which is a critical component of a solid foundation of stability and cost predictability.

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