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Lean manufacturing has continued to build in popularity over the past several years – and with good reason. Facilities that have successfully implemented a lean manufacturing culture have seen significant gains in all aspects of their business.
Since 2014, our Lake Forest, CA location has been implementing these lean processes. Here are the steps we have taken and the gains that have been made by adapting lean manufacturing.
About Dynacast Lake Forest
Our facility is located in Lake Forest, CA in Southern California’s Orange County region. The plant is approximately 111,000 square feet with roughly 250 employees. Lake Forest currently has 33 multi-slide zinc die casting machines, three conventional zinc die casting machines, 17 aluminum die casting machines, an X-Ray imaging machine and an advanced ultrasonic cleaning machine.
Commitment to our Customers
What sets Dynacast Lake Forest apart is our compulsive desire to be the best in our market. That requires us to deliver on our promise to each and every customer. To make this happen, we are transforming traditional die casting by seamlessly integrating automation, advanced technologies and lean manufacturing resulting in a more refined and competitive product.
Because we are located in Southern California, we also need to invest in our people and in developing manufacturing skills while being mindful of the environment. By utilizing efficient LED lighting throughout the factory and partnering with alternative energy companies to reduce utility consumption, Dynacast Lake Forest is making a concerted effort to conserve our natural resources.
When we do all of this right, I believe, our customers will be delighted, our employees will be invigorated and our environment will be better for it.
Introducing Lean Manufacturing
Often, lean manufacturing is viewed as a tool. In fact, it is a set of principles that is applied to the everyday running of the business. Dynacast Lake Forest is committed to producing the highest-quality components with the least amount of waste. To do this, we embarked on introducing lean manufacturing with the goal of looking at every aspect of manufacturing with fresh eyes.
We started by training our operators and managers on the 8 elements of lean, which can be seen in picture form below this blog for your reference. The 5S element (Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain) is typically the very first element to implement as it is the easiest and fastest way to introduce lean.
Simple steps like creating aisles throughout the factory, adding better lighting, painting old equipment and removing clutter creates a more visual factory for our employees, suppliers and customers.
Refocusing on Key Goals and Data
As companies experience rapid growth, they often tend to lose focus of the back end of the business. Our first step was to get back to “operations basics”. We set up daily production meetings to go over priorities for the day and any outstanding issues from the day before. We introduced single piece flow and value stream mapping, as well as automation to further improve cycle time resulting in better on time delivery to our customers. We also streamlined the operations, quality, and engineering departments by restructuring the teams to remove redondance and improve efficiencies while maintaining a sense of urgency.
We also focused on factual data and root cause/corrective action rather than making decisions on a whim with false promises. Emphasis was made on obtaining and gathering data and trends through analysis in order to effectively drive change. Also, new goals were put into place and made available to everyone in the plant to measure effectiveness and hold accountability.
By focusing on operations basics and utilizing lean manufacturing elements, we were able to make significant improvement in all areas of the facility. These dramatic improvements happened over a short time period. When we introduced these lean elements like value steam mapping, the standardization of work, and a pull system in combination with automation, we saw improved cycle time, reduced inventory, improved quality, fewer defects and reduced labor costs.
There were also noticeable differences in employees – fewer lost time incidents, higher morale, and more engagement. Our customers could also tell a difference; our annual customer survey scores increased dramatically. The highest ratings were in customer service, delivery, technical support, and quality.
Here are additional results that were seen in Lake Forest in only the first twelve months of lean manufacturing implementation:
- Beat Q1 2015 budget (both Sales and EBITDA)
- Improved Q1 Sales by 7.4% (Q1 2015 vs. Q1 2014)
- Improved Q1 EBITDA by 91% (Q1 2015 vs. Q1 2014)
- Top 20 Customer Sales increased by 15% (Q1 2015 vs. Q1 2014)
- Reduced Total Scrap by >70% (Jan 2015 vs. Jan 2014: excludes Tesla)
- Improved OTD by >50% (Jan 2015 vs. Jan 2014)
- Improved Total Sales per head by 77% (Jan 2015 vs. Jan 2014)
- Zero lost time incidents since June 2014
In conclusion, lean manufacturing has led to increased sales and profitability at Dynacast Lake Forest. As a side benefit, we are seeing more employee engagement, significant reduction in waste and a safer work environment.
More importantly, the key to sustaining these achievements is to reward continuous improvements and celebrate success!
What questions do you have regarding lean manufacturing? Are there particular sections you’d like me to expand on? I’d love to hear your feedback.