Not all the changes required huge outlays of funds.That is an awesome reduction in motion achieved by Sandberg Labs in Lethbridge. Also great to see that the Quintons thought long and hard about investment and put it into steps that reduced over processing:
Using principles of lean manufacturing to improve flow, Mr. Quinton arranged to move all the grinding operations, which had been spread throughout the building, into the back, along with the ovens. The move led to a travel-time reduction of 87 per cent, he said.
With the old, manual method of testing feed, “it had to be smartest chemist to figure out what was going on,” explains Mr. Quinton. “The most expensive person was tied up all day for 10 samples. Now the system is so automated that any technician can run it, while the chemist still does quality control.”
They didn't stop there they went after duplication, more over processing, over production, defects and even added some poke yoke.
“Sometimes we were using three or four different systems for the same sample,” Mr. Quinton says. “There was a lot of duplicate data, which made it prone to error. We were catching those but it caused delays. Now with the receiving person entering all the data once, we’ll be able to do bigger volumes with accuracy.” The new software also registers acceptable limits on results and automatically flags any out of range.The whole article is at the Globe and Mail. Lean does not have to be complicated and my bet is that the Quintons wouldn't even describe what they are doing as Lean. And that is a good reminder for the rest of us. Implementing Lean should not be about perfect 5S or going from push to pull it is about increasing value add for the customer. Something the Quintons seem to be doing very well.