Kawasaki Precision Machinery (UK) Ltd is a provider of superlative power and control solutions, supplying quality hydraulic equipment around the world for mobile, industrial, construction, marine and many other engineering applications. Wherever there is a need for lifting, pumping, moving, steering, winch controlling or regulating, KPM equipment can be found working effectively and meeting the demanding needs of its customers.
Based at Plymouth in Devon, the Kawasaki factory is a highly automated manufacturing facility that covers 68,000 square meters, producing a wide range of pumps, piston motors, control valves and Staffa motors, and operating as the nerve centre for a network of more than 40 distributors in over 20 countries.
Committed to offering world-class products, Kawasaki utilises the latest hydraulic and electrohydraulic technology, and employs highly skilled specialist staff.
Introducing a Lean Methodology
As part of their drive to maintaining world-class standards and implementing a programme of continuous improvement across all areas, Kawasaki employed external training provider, Lean Education And Development (LEAD) to introduce the philosophy and tools of Lean and continuous improvement to the workforce. Teams were created and each allocated a specific area of production where the company felt productivity and efficiency could be improved, and quantifiable results produced. They were taught how to implement and utilise such Lean tools as 5S audits, Health & Safety audits, 5 Whys and 8 Wastes, Payback Matrix, Pareto analysis and Cause & Effect charts as a means of effecting change, reducing waste and increasing efficiency.
Team: Care in the community – improving Test Rig OEE performance
One of the teams analysed Test Rig OEE performance and found that although quality was high at 98%, delivery was running under target at 63% and, as a result of under-processing, just four motors per shift were being produced.
They looked at the existing OEE sheet and found it to be non-specific to the Test Rigs in terms of the data captured. After liaising with operators, the team created a new OEE sheet and collected three weeks of data, identifying that ‘rig temperature’ equated to 9.22 hours of downtime and the ‘bar test’ to 10 hours of downtime. They sought to rectify this by installing timer controlled heater elements on the test rigs, improving access and appointing a dedicated engineer to continue capturing and collating data. They also implemented a new SOP and suggested carrying out regular time & motion studies and training rig operators to identify issues and solutions.
In addition, the team employed 8 Wastes to identify specific areas where improvement could be achieved, looking at production, people, transportation, inventory, operator motion, idle time and extra processing. They employed the ‘red tag’ system to identify extraneous, out of date and unused equipment that needed removing or storing, and introduced signage to improve visibility, access and Health & Safety.
As a result of these changes, the 5S score rose from 13 to 54, and the team calculated that with the heater elements fitted, cost savings of £6,846.56 could be achieved and delivery increased from 63% to 74%.
Another team identified that incorrect fitting of valve cover plates on pumps was causing test rig failures. They found that 27 incorrectly fitted valve covers to date equated to re-working costs of £1,808, and that one faulty pump could potentially hold up a shipment valued at £250,000.
To ensure valve covers were correctly fitted, they created a Poke Yoke device with protruding arms that could be inserted through the side of the valve block and through the valve cover plate. As this would only fit in one way with the device in place, it effectively prevented the valve cover being fitted in the incorrect orientation. On-going actions included trialling the device to ensure its design was robust, training operators in the new procedure and updating the SOP. Once implemented, estimated improvements included 100% quality, cost savings of £1,808 and all shipments going through without delay.
A range of 5S activities was also instigated, including red tagging, re-organising equipment and using shadow boards where appropriate, resulting in improvements to Health & Safety and the initial 5S score of 41 increasing to 58.
Team: Olympus – reducing Test Rig set-up time
The third team identified that poor workplace organisation on Test Rig 1 was impacting on set-up time.
To increase efficiency and help reduce set up time, they set about implementing a range of 5S activities that included red tagging items left out, installing new shadow boards, labelling components, installing Health & Safety signs and generally reorganising the area. This included labelling and referencing couplings and keys so that they could be easily identifiable for each motor.
The team also found that the Test Rig area was being used as a thoroughfare, with people frequently getting in the way. They installed barriers that operators could use if required, preventing people from entering the area. As a result of these measures, the team estimated that over a year, set up time could be reduced by 20%, with improved delivery equating to an extra 128 motors being tested each year, and the 5S score increasing from 33 to 43.
The teams commented that they now had a better understanding of the problem-solving process using Lean tools and a fundamental grasp of the principles of 5S,
its methodology and application, especially in relation to teamwork and communication. They recognised the importance of involving operators to sustain proposed change, and had a greater awareness of Health & Safety issues in general.