Case Study 3 – Process Improvement
Another employee at Colorman wanted to focus on the current method of production and connection to the warehouse. In fact, there was no communication from Production to the Warehouse when jobs are complete and awaiting delivery. In addition there were issues with time delivery from Production. So, this team member saw an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction by making a process improvement to his work area.
By way of background, the company have three production plants with the Warehouse being located across the road. When a job was completed in Production, it was left on the floor in the Factory it was produced in. So, the Warehouse staff had to keep checking the IT system to check if it was completed. Then, they had to drive over in the forklift to collect it and bring it back to Warehouse to dispatch to their customers.
As a result, there was no communication with the Production plant about what jobs were going direct to the customers or stock. This meant that stock jobs were being produced before jobs were wanted for delivery that day.
8-Step Problem-Solving Process
In trying to solve a particular problem, we advise using the 8-Step Problem-Solving Process:
- Current State
- Root Cause Analysis
- Select Countermeasures
- Standardisation & Learnings
First of all, we collaborated with Colorman and their team to set up a Kaizen event to brainstorm and “silent share” ideas. A Kaizen event is a team brainstorming workshop. It has a specific goal for improving a business process and minimising waste within a department or company. Through “silent sharing”, we encourage all participants to think, reflect and share their ideas on post-it notes.
- The team presented the problem statement and current process.
- We asked everybody for their opinions and they wrote them down on post-it notes.
- All ideas (big and small) were welcome.
- They were willing to try processes out and decide whether they were worth keeping.
Next, we put all these ideas on an Impact/Ease Chart to assess the potential impact or benefits they will have on the company. The result is a visual representation of where best to assign time and resources. We don’t discard any issues as their assessment may change over time as other problems are resolved. Therefore, we can summarise these four activities summarised as follows:
- Just Do It – these ideas have high impact and are easy to do now.
- Why Not? – these issues have low impact and are easy to address.
- Projects – ideas that have high impact but are difficult to address.
- Not Now – issues that have low impact and are also difficult to address.
The, the Impact/Ease Chart measured the Countermeasures. These outlined the following:
- Production issues.
- IT problems.
- Issues with access to the Production Factory.
- Issues with wrong labels and scanners.
- Not enough staff
- In order to succeed Colorman obtained management buy-in.
- The company implemented daily production meetings.
- They nominated a forklift driver from Production to deliver the job directly to the Warehouse.
Building 25 orders – time consumed before changes:
- Order Pick Time / Order = 30 mins
- 25 Orders / Day = 750 mins
Building 25 orders – time consumed after changes:
- Order Pick Time / Order = 10 mins
- 25 Orders / Day = 250 mins
Time Savings = 500 mins / Day
- We do things wrong without stepping back to look at the process.
- Team involvement was beneficial.
- Lack of communication has a serious negative impact.
- All it took for was someone to take responsibility for the area.
We firmly believe that the expertise to develop business process improvements already exist in every organisation. This has clearly been the case in Colorman Ireland. Through their employees’ Lean projects, the company has made significant continuous improvements to their business.
ETAC has worked with Colorman Ireland to streamline their business and improve their processes. We hope you enjoyed reading this case study on Process Improvement. You may be interested in reading the two other case studies featured here: Case Study 1 – Under/Over Production and Case Study 2 – Lean Time Management. All our case studies are available here.