Case Studies ProductivityProductivity Gains:

For a plant that produced canned pet food with the goal to increase through-put. The plant, on the surface looked “efficient” (i.e., minimal staffing and everyone appeared busy). However, there were numerous opportunities that became evident once shop floor controls were installed. The canning machines were quickly identified as the 1st bottleneck of the operation. There were several critical opportunities: 1) There was an inconsistent flow of cans from the can manufacturing department which resulted in the “starving” of the canning machines; 2) The mixing department had mechanical downtime which “starved” the canning equipment and; 3) The vertical steam cooker often stopped causing the full can lines to backup and stop the canning machines. None of these issues constituted a large amount of downtime, but when the two canning machines combined to produce over 1400 cans per minute it didn’t take long to show how large an impact this combined downtime had on the bottom line.

Utilizing a three pronged approach to gain the improvement the canner was seeking, one team focused on the “gaps” in the empty can lines feeding the canner; one team focused on the reasons for mechanical downtime on the mixing lines and a third team focused on the cooking practices. Each team utilized their own set of unique tools developed to solve their own issues. For example, the cook team created a cooking log that recorded all the settings and variables regarding the cooking process. This data was then analyzed to create a book of “Best Practices” that had what all the settings to give the best result for each different product code. As point of interest, it was noted that regardless of how well things were running when one shift took over from the previous shift, the operator would change many of the settings to how “they always run it”. This practice was stopped.

The result was a combined decrease in downtime as a result of gaps in the empty can lines by identifying unloading factors and catch points in the line. An increase in uptime of mixing equipment by instating a more rigorous preventative maintenance program, and the creation of “best practices cooking procedure” for each product they produced.