Biz Coach Analysis-Manufacturing

Please read the following portion of a typical case study performed by the Biz Coach:

Biz Coach was called on to assess the operational efficiency of a mid-sized manufacturing company located in northern Ohio and initiate actions to improve the short and long term performance of the organization.  The effort began with an assessment of management, processes, and legacy systems to address the development of an operational vision and culture shift to react to the changes in the competitive market of contract machining.  In addition, the organizations customer base was becoming more dependent on three to four larger key accounts which placed more demands on their supply base to improve quality and reduce waste to ensure the supplier’s viability.

Task 1            Assess the capabilities of operational management and coach toward improvement

Historically the plant management, including supervision, focused on making customer shipments without any formal production system, scheduling system or materials leadership with no effective means of inventory control including raw, work-in process, and finished goods.  As a result, there were considerable inefficiencies in the production process that led to excessive waste.  The first action was to develop a capacity analysis for the Primary Departments.  This analysis illustrated that excess capacity that was available and ineffective utilization of the existing assets resulted in high production cost and late deliveries.  However, the major bottleneck to create efficient operational flow was discovered in the Secondary Department.  To solve this problem we developed a similar capacity analysis in this area to correct overall performance.  Furthermore it was discovered that the existing capacity throughout the plant was being underutilized by not utilizing a full second shift and having an excessively long overlap between the third and Day Shift negating communication between shifts.  Our findings resulted in the following actions:

*Search for talented manpower additions to balance all three shifts

*Eliminate any long overlaps

*Allow for a one half hour overlap to communicate issues from the previous shift.

Task 2           Take action toward improving production flow

Our team was a critical part of the hiring process of a materials manager to utilize the existing ERP system and monitor/control the excess inventory that was generated annually.  This continues to be a major efficiency step for the company.

Task 3            Introduce and implement best communication practices

The third area of impact was to introduce and lead the implementation of monthly, rudimentary Sales and Operations Planning Meetings with executive management present to openly communicate and make fact- based decisions on customer requirements and production readiness to meet these demands.  These meetings began in June 2013 and continue today.

Task 4            Examine all enterprise-wide operational procedures

Our other findings discovered that adding to the inefficiencies of the operations and impeding of the flow was the lack of effective productive machinery assets.  Downtime due to repair was excessive with no preventative maintenance program in place to improve machine uptime.  Maintenance was performed by production supervisors as well as the Maintenance Department with most if not all performed unscheduled with central repository for repair or maintenance records.  This prompted a plan to be developed that scheduled “repair, rebuild, or replace” existing machinery and equipment.  Additional action to improve production flow was to identify excess machinery that was underutilized and consuming valuable plant floor space.  Following an assessment of its current and future use, the excess equipment was offered for sale to generate minimal cash and allow the vacated space to be utilized for rearrangement of equipment into part family cells.  The development of these cells was expected by the organizations major customers to reduce the production cost and improve delivery performance.  Under the guidance of Biz Coach, the initial concepts for manufacturing cells were identified by analyzing historic data and layouts were developed by the internal team members and select management.

Other major factors contributing to overall operational inefficiencies included the lack of a continuous improvement effort. No one in the operations management team had been exposed to initiatives like Six Sigma or Lean Enterprise.  Furthermore, there was a lack of understanding and leadership of these concepts by the top management team.  Adding more pressure to the situation was major customers expected these types of initiatives to be embraced to reduce costs, improve quality, enhance delivery performance, and ensure long term supplier viability.  These customers also wanted Lean problem solving tools such as A3 to be employed to address recurring quality issues.  As a result the team specifically took action to educate and facilitate meetings with team members utilizing these methods as well as other techniques like Fishbone Diagrams, Pareto Charts, Statistical Process Control, and project management.

The education and implementation of Lean Enterprise concepts was particularly important for the quality leadership in the plant.  The culture had been based on identifying defects and sorting them to supply customer demands versus problem solving.  As a result, the Quality Department manpower had grown and became focused on detection.  A balanced quality initiative in manufacturing will include prevention, appraisal efforts and minimal detection component.  The quality focus needed written processes or “standard work” where the machine operator is responsible for the quality of the product they produce and not expect quality to uncover defective parts.  Numerous efforts in conjunction with the Quality Manager to initiate, educate, and implement standard work on the shop floor.  Problem solving using root cause analysis was introduced, facilitated, and coached by the Biz Coach.  The Quality Manager embraced the culture change, became an engaged student, and fully supported the change process.



In summary, many of the operational issues faced by the organization were based on people working within an organizational framework without defined roles and processes.  Although competent, certain management personnel and employees had no base knowledge of the changes that have taken place in competitive market of contract machining.  We employed extensive coaching throughout the engagement to develop and galvanize focused vision for maintaining the continuation of prosperity.  We assisted the group in identifying external qualified additions to the operations management teams such as the Vice President of Manufacturing and the Materials Manager that should provide the talent necessary to sustain and further improve on the progress was achieved during our program.