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RCI Wrap up

During October, Norbar held its 4th Rapid Continuous Improvement (RCI) workshop and the 3rd this year.

5 new teams looking to improve 5 key processes: -


  • Small Torque Wrench Assembly & Calibration
  • Secondary Motion Assembly
  • Speed Design Review
  • Machine Shop Reorganisation
  • Multiplier Surface finishing


Each team of between 6-8 members included process operators (the experts), Engineers, guests from other processes and guests from Norbar and other Snap-on companies.


We welcomed back Sensei Takahashi San, the CEO of Shingijutsu USA. Having trained in the Toyota Production System and with 35 years of lean manufacturing experience he encouraged each team to have an open mind to different ideas in finding solutions to achieve their objectives.


Having been a regular visitor over the last 14 months, teams are now becoming accustomed to Sensei Takahashi’s methodology in his approach to process improvement.


Our product assembly teams are now regularly hearing the line “One Piece Flow”.

This is a fundamental element of becoming lean. To any organisation that has a tradition and culture of batch manufacture, “one-piece flow” can send a shudder through those involved in planning and manufacturing.


However, there are many advantages of “one-piece flow”:

  1. Reducing Inventory
  2. Need for less space
  3. Improves quality by early identification of defects
  4. Enhances manufacturing flexibility


Whilst establishing the process ‘as-is’, Sensei Takahashi will encourage teams to measure Cycle Time and calculate Takt time. Cycle Time is how often a part is completed by a particular process and Takt Time is a customer demand calculation that tells you how often a part should be completed by a particular process in order to meet demand.


Improvement teams can then analyse the process to remove wasted material movement, wasted operator movement and non-value added operations.

This should improve cycle time and subsequently provide us with more capacity to satisfy customer demand.


We have achieved our objective for 2018 which was to have given a third of our workforce the opportunity to be part of an RCI workshop.

With the more Shingijutsu workshops we do and the more people involved we are now holding our own improvement workshops ensuring that we continue to use the methodology, tools and techniques learnt from Sensei Takahashi.


So, getting back to the October workshops here are some of the key improvements achieved:-


Small Torque Wrench Assembly:

  • Improved assembly cycle time from 270 secs to 170 secs
  • Material travel reduced from 437 m to 12 m
  • Identified and resolved 5 ergonomic improvements


Secondary Motion Assembly:

  • Assembly cyle time reduced from 90 sec to 39 sec
  • Line can be operated with 2 people instead of 3
  • Introduced powered process to reduce Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) risk


Speed Design Review:

  • Designed prototype of Gearbox covering 18 flanges
  • Having product available for testing one month after workshop
  • Implemented at least 3 Health & Safety improvements


Machine Shop Reorganisation:

  • Repositioned 4 machines to optimise product flow
  • Created additional 78m2 floor area
  • Identified and actioned at least 3 Health & Safety issues


Multiplier Surface Finish:

  • 75% reduction in operator movement (from 190 m to 50 m)
  • 45% reduction in material movement (from 54 m to 30 m)
  • 70% reduction in change over time (from 5 mins to 1.5 mins)


We have our next Shingijutsu workshop scheduled for April with 4 or 5 new teams working on process improvements which the business will identify.


In the meantime we are continuing to create an improvement culture by focussing on processes where previously learnt RCI tools and techniques can be implemented.

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