Getting Lean

APQP techniques for identifying and eliminating bottlenecks.

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APQP techniques for identifying and eliminating bottlenecks.

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John BornemanWhen you ask for Cp (or Cpk), are you really getting Pp (or Ppk)?

OK, I admit it: I was trying to be funny in the title. But the issue is how capable is a capability study? Or, to state it another way: When should we be careful in how much we trust our capability study results?

Here are three items we should be aware of when designing, running and calculating a capability study:

 

 

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Part supplies are getting tighter. Here are new rules for dealing with the constraints.

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Eliminating waste in medical box-build production.

Contract manufacturers typically have to find middle ground in the use of Lean manufacturing principles. Unless a customer is completely committed to a holistic Lean environment, there will also be some level of waste (muda) in the process attributable to customer-related constraints. That said, use of Lean principles to minimize the seven wastes can help mitigate defects and lower costs that would otherwise occur as a result of inefficiency.

These seven wastes are defined as:

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Hom-Ming ChangHigh- and low-tech ways to ensure parts are correctly placed.

A core element of Lean manufacturing philosophy is the requirement to understand where inefficiencies and waste exist, in order to eliminate them. Even in a factory that thoroughly embraces Lean manufacturing and trains its personnel on all aspects of their jobs, there will be inefficiencies and waste related to operator error, supplier quality issues and process variation. SigmaTron International’s facility in Suzhou, China uses a two-part strategy to address this. At a systems level, it developed a proprietary Manufacturing Execution System (MES) system known as Tango to enhance shop floor control. At a granular level, the team evaluates production operations for areas where tooling or fixtures can minimize process variability and the potential for operator error. This month, we look at some of the common areas where this defect mitigation strategy can be most effective.

SigmaTron’s IT department takes a distributed approach to continuous improvement in its systems by letting teams at individual manufacturing facilities identify specific gaps in shared systems and develop appropriate software tools. These solutions are then tested at the facility that identified the need and later transferred across all facilities. Following development and testing in Suzhou, Tango was deployed to other facilities beginning in 2014.

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