Lean Begins at Home for Topper Industrial / Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma Must be Part of the Fork Truck Free Conversation 

September 2, 2016 Fork Truck Free Info 3851 Views

Almost a decade ago EHS Today magazine looked at the value of considering launching an ergonomics initiative integrated into Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma improvement processes. Indeed several corporate improvement initiatives or programs have been developed to aid corporations in achieving external productivity excellence, most notably Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma.

Fork Truck Free Initiatives are often initiated by safety, often ergonomics experts. Topper Industrial welcomed Chris Mosby as the company’s lean manager. Mosby has been a Lean/Six Sigma trainer for more than twenty years in multi-faceted, fast-paced manufacturing environments. Mosby’s experience includes management assignments in quality, production, logistics, healthcare, and maintenance/engineering.

Mosby explained his enthusiasm as a new Topper Industrial employee, “I can’t even put into words their support and influence with this journey. The leadership truly treat their employees the way they would like to be treated. They believe that people for the most part want to do a good day’s work for a fair wage. They empower their employee to strive to be better and it show in the products that come out of here.”

Lean manufacturing initiatives cannot prevail unless the company leadership is fully committed. It is often uncomfortable, awkward, challenging, and frustrating. That said, once lean continuous process improvement becomes a habit, a lifestyle, there is no turning back.

Mosby noted that the first thing we did was assemble a Lean Steering Committee to develop goals and targets for the shop (safety, quality, delivery, and cost). We developed a training plan for the entire shop. The entire leadership team went through a week of basic lean training. Within the first couple of weeks we began a one-day introduction lean training for all employees.

In two months’ time we trained all employees on the basics of lean. We established a pilot training area (the canteen) where we were able to show “real lean tools” in an area that was familiar to all. Included in this area were tools such as Kanban, standard work, visual management, 5S, and other well-established methodologies.

We did this so we could show how some of these tools could be transferred and used (Yoketen) to other areas. The first major process change came with the development of the container line (Topper Industrial’s first assembly line). We used Takt time and balanced that time to the cycle time of the operators and made the containers in a one-piece flow method. There were constraints using kitting, pull systems, and it had to be fork truck free.

This was a new way of building for Topper Industrial

Before: Job shop method: The process required 20 operators to build 90 units a day

After: Assembly line method: The process now requires just 13 operators to build 90 units a day

These lean proven strategies, tools, and techniques are necessary to build a successful and sustainable ergonomics program that combines Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma methodologies while also achieving bottom-line results. Optimizing human performance, reducing cycle time, and implementing measurable business processes, all serve to increase your support organization’s agility, responsiveness, and ability to deliver enhanced services. By integrating these methodologies, manufacturing organizations moving to a FTF environment become stronger business partners to all stakeholders by providing:

  • Increased cost competitiveness;
  • Lower per transaction costs;
  • Empowered, customer and process-focused workforce; and
  • Dedicated commitment to continual improvement.

Topper Industrial

Article submitted by Jillian Burrow, Marketing Manager for Topper Industrial

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