As a company we have made various step changes towards the ideal process flow state through the use of waste reduction techniques under the methodologies of Continuous Improvement, but since the acquisition by Snap-on we have been introduced to the term Rapid Continuous Improvement (RCI).
The addition of the word ‘Rapid’ doesn’t seem a lot on the face of it, but when you tell a team that they need to get it done in just under a week then that’s a different story.
So, what does Rapid Continuous Improvement mean and how do you go about holding an RCI event?
Rapid Continuous Improvement = KAIZEN. Prior to the RCI event 4 teams were created with cross-functional team members, which included, Norbar employees from various departments and skillsets and also a number of non-Norbar employees such as distributors and Snap-on employees. Each team was given a set of objectives.
Team 1 - Improve Quotation Win Rate
Team 2 - SDR (Speed Design Review)
Team 3 - Increase Assembly Line Throughput
Team 4 - Increase Manufacturing Capacity
To go about the process of making the improvements the teams were guided by Sensei Takahashi, a world leading expert in Kaizen and the elimination of process waste from the company Shingijutsu.
Sensei Takahashi would go around the teams at points throughout the day, and with the help of his interpreter Mayumi (also a Kaizen expert), would guide them through the tools and techniques needed to achieve the end goal of the objectives. These tools and techniques included Value Stream Mapping, Product Matrix Evaluation, Yamazumi Charts, 6S, 3P and 5Y.
The cross-functional teams applied the tools and techniques and the knowledge contained within the processes to drive the identification of waste and lead the improvement initiatives that are required within the processes. Something that was avoided was feeling the need to say NO or We tried that before and it didn’t work.
Yeah, but you only had a week! How much of it did you actually achieve??
Team 1 - Defined, agreed and implemented new processes to speed up the quotation process and manufacture of product to fulfil these quotations.
Team 2 - Established a permanent Obeya, defined and implemented a new process reducing the initial project phases by 85%, conducted a full product market evaluation and produced a working concept prototype of a new complex product.
Team 3 - Reduced the footprint of the assembly area by 62%, motion by 61%, improved ergonomics and increased productivity by 20%.
Team 4 - Improved material and information flow, reduced build time by 24% and movement by 74%, increased spindle up time of 13% and set-up reduction through dedicating machines to process and introduced new processes and initiatives to work with our suppliers to reduce lead times by up to 7 days.
Where previously a team may have met once every couple of weeks and taken away actions that they tried to fit in alongside their day jobs and then were given new priorities over and above those, the use of Kaizen allowed the teams to be immersed into the processes which they were improving and allowed a period of full focus on the problems and opportunities which were established by the use of employing the correct tools and techniques. This in turn increases the probability of achieving the improvement and doing the right things right.
So now we’ve done the week, I guess that’s it?......Each team created a list of actions to be taken forward to fully maximise the benefits of the improvements which were identified during the event and these are updated and reported on a daily basis. There are also several events that have been organised for various process improvements and there is a Norbar companywide RCI event already organised for the New Year, where 4 different teams will be organised with a different set of objectives given.
Now we’ve done it, I guess that’s it. A final thought was given at the end of the first successful week, and we are striving to take this forward and drive improvement and involvement throughout the company. Every day is a good day for Kaizen and it is not an option, it’s a way of life.