JANUARY 2016 The FABRICATOR 81
be addressed quickly. Luckily, they can be solved
quickly as well. A defined 6S program is the key to
sustaining those improvements.
In concert with the introduction of kaizen events,
6S efforts were formally engaged. Fabricators are
probably more familiar with the 5S manufacturing
philosophy, again based on Japanese continuous
improvement practices. 5S covers seiri (sort, or get
rid of what is not needed); seiton (straighten, or put
everything where it should be and where things are
easy to access); seiso (shine, or create a clean workspace free of garbage and dirt); seiketsu (
standardize, or set up standards like visual work instructions
to maintain a clean work environment); and shitsuke
(sustain, or maintain work habits that keep continuous improvement at the forefront of everyone’s
thoughts). Some U.S. companies adopted this lean
philosophy and later added safety to the mix—the
sixth S—because a safe and safety-conscious workforce is made up of individuals that will be present
to do the job and engaged to do the job better.
To sustain these efforts, a steering committee
comprising top management from different areas of
the Jonesboro facility was created. The committee
meets and audits once a month, and improvement
ideas are discussed.
Each committee member also is responsible for
audits, particularly related to 6S. The committee
representative is responsible for auditing an area on
a monthly basis, and the results are shared on audit
boards set up throughout the facility. The auditor is
responsible for an area that he or she doesn’t oversee because a fresh set of eyes is more likely to catch
something that needs to be addressed than someone who sees the same thing every day and doesn’t
think it is unusual.
The kaizen events and 6S activities resulted in
visual changes around the facility. One of the major successes involved a reorganization of the laser cutting area in the fabricating department (see
Before reorganization efforts, a slew of pallets sat
on the side of the laser cutting machines because
each nest might contain six to eight different jobs.
The parts for each job were then placed on the appropriate pallet so that when the pallet was delivered to the press brake or some other downstream
processing step, all the parts detailed on the routing
slip were available for the press brake operator or
other shop floor technician.
Not only did the pallets eat up floor space, require forklifts to move them from station to station,
present a hazard to employees walking through the
department, and pose an ergonomic risk to those
who had to put down or lift up parts, they also
left the material handler with an unenviable management task: What went to the rack, to the press
brake, or straight to welding, and when should the
parts get there?
Camfil APC embarked on its lean journey in January 2013, and almost three years into it, the shop floor
has changed dramatically. These before and after photos provide a glimpse into that transformation.
Today special build teams move from cell to
cell, conducting specialized fabrication functions on each customized dust collection unit.
This keeps the areas organized. In a sense, the
assembly line is brought to each dust collector job. The area shown is the rally point for
the assembly team. A kata board in the background shows the learning journey to meet
the departmental challenge.
The shop floor before lean manufacturing
principles were put into practice was unorganized. It was difficult for workers to visualize
where parts or fabrications were headed.
After numerous successful kaizen projects,
the company had 16 clearly marked assembly bays. A visual scheduling board and tool
shadow boards have become a critical part of
the assembly process.
Before the implementation of a 6S program,
pallets and suppliers were found all over the
shop floor. Now a steering committee, made
up of senior management, conducts monthly
6S audits throughout the facility, helping to
drive more organized spaces.
Without the push to adhere to 6S principles,
the shop floor practiced little control over
welding consumables. After a dedicated 6S
program, consumables are organized, and
reorder points are established to reduce
Welders used to create their own fixtures and
set up weld tables as they each saw fit. Now
weld fixtures are designed for standard parts
and easily bolt to ergonomic tables.
Before 6S practices were adopted, batch runs
of parts created excess inventory that overflowed the rack system. Process changes,
along with kanban and lean warehousing
techniques, reduced the excess inventory and
created a more organized area and easy-to-identify product flow.
Before and After