As IWCO Direct’s Lean Journey continues, teams at our Minnesota facilities continue to implement Lean Manufacturing principles into daily work routines. We’re also excited to share that our Lean Journey has headed east, with our Hamburg facility getting its first introduction to Lean principles.
Lean has played an increasingly important role in our operations. It compresses cycle times for our customers’ direct mail campaigns, reduces waste and makes us more efficient. With that in mind, here’s an update on Lean activities at our Chanhassen, Little Falls and Hamburg locations:
Our Chanhassen Print facility recently conducted Kaizen events to analyze our make-ready process and determine the most efficient workflow. In an effort to improve the inline process, our Press 2 team separated internal make-ready steps (when the press is shut down) from external steps (when the press is running). One of the most important external steps is creating a history of exact measurements from previous jobs to get future jobs up and running faster. This new Standard Work will eliminate process variation and reduce inline variables.
In a continued effort to improve our universal make-ready process, a leadership team at our Little Falls facility utilized Value Stream Mapping (VSM) to diagram its workflow. VSM analyzes all steps in the production process from receiving to commingling and creates a vision for process improvements. It also aids in identifying sources of waste or inefficiencies in the workflow. This project focused on jobs containing many small packages, which tend to slow the production process. The Little Falls VSM team was able to identify a number of opportunities for streamlining this type of work. The next step will be to test the ideas developed during the VSM process and analyze the results.
After seeing the great impact Lean tools have made at two of our Minnesota facilities, a team of envelope adjusters at our Hamburg plant used the Lean Continuous Improvement Philosophy to initiate its first Kaizen. Much like Chanhassen and Little Falls, a number of discussions were held on how to eliminate wasted motion and common delays to improve the make-ready process. After collecting and analyzing data from each make-ready, our team reduced its time and distance travelled by more than half – an outstanding improvement.
With an overall goal to create consistency and predictability, our Hamburg envelope adjusters also created a Standard Work checklist within its make-readies. Using their Lean knowledge and Kaizen results, the team established work standards that will be used to make valuable improvements. Their checklist will be implemented and tested in the near future.
This Lean Journey is important to all of us at IWCO Direct. Compressing cycle times benefits both us and our customers. Even with all of the progress we’ve made since we began implementing Lean, we’re not done. As our journey continues, we’ll report back on our progress at all of our facilities.