Recently we posted an article that discusses why it can appear that implementing Lean isn’t yielding financial returns. We referenced a case study that described Boeing’s very successful lean implementation that was considered a failure. While Boeing is a much larger company than most manufacturers, we can still apply their results to our smaller budgets and determine what they would mean to our companies.
In 2008, the production line for the Missile Defense Program at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) had a 44 day cycle time producing one integrated interceptor. The customer’s (US Army’s) goal was 30 days cycle time for each unit built. Boeing tasked its Employee Involvement (EI) Team with developing a plan to make the 30 day goal.
Boeing used Value Stream Mapping in an Accelerated Improvement Workshop to focus on five key issues.
Identifying waste: Waste is any process or thing that doesn’t add value to a product, and it’s the number one cause of out of control costs and schedule delays.
Cellular production: Production cells were created to process specific sections of the procedure and address problems associated with excessive travel time, high inventory, higher flow time, higher costs, quality problems, and a lack of product ownership by technicians.
Scheduling: When possible, simplified scheduling systems were used to reduce the impact of out of position work. They simplified by A) evaluating the production schedule, and B) reprioritizing tasks based on parts availability, out of sequence work, and first in/first out for batch processing.
Production line processes: The Lean Vision demanded replacing complex data transfer systems with visual and audible controls to improve and simplify production line communication. This is an additional implementation of simplicity to the goals that were accomplished with the production cells.
Production line support: Dedicated support was set up at the end of each of the production cells to address issues as they arise. Cell-specific support can increase internal customer focus, improve production efficiency, and encourage employee ownership of the products and processes.
The Results – What You Should Consider
If you implement Lean strategies at your facilities and get the same results as Boeing, you’d be looking at:
- 45% reduction in cycle time: If you saved this kind of time, could you fill it with new or additional business?
- 28% reduction in labor costs: Would you be able to lower your price and get more business with this kind of savings?
- 60% reduction in time lost due to anomalies: if you gained this much time just by running more smoothly, what kind of impact would that have on your company culture?
- 89% efficiency rate: Think about quoting shorter lead times and having more on-time shipments.
So much of the publicly-available data on real world Lean savings belong to giant companies. That makes it hard for most manufacturers in the nation to relate. However, just because these are large-scale companies doesn’t mean you can’t see similar results percentage-wise. Our customers consistently see improvements that are comparable to the kinds of results Boeing saw. It just takes the right approach and equipment for you.
Load Mover Inc. builds battery-powered tugs designed to increase productivity and safety for material handlers. We know how they can be leveraged to support Lean, and we’re happy to discuss what that might look like for you. Contact us for information: 952-767-1720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.