At the end of March, Robert Clark, Manager of Digital Print Operations, attended the Lean & Six Sigma World Conference, where our Project Uptime initiative was up for the LSS Project of the Year award. Although we didn’t win, it makes it easier to swallow knowing who our winning competition was―the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. Project Uptime began in 2016 and focused on improving our Personalization operations. We are very proud of our team’s effort and wanted to share an overview of Project Uptime and what it means for our clients’ campaigns.
First, a little background. We are faced with a challenging reality: Our clients’ marketing programs are continually increasing in complexity and at the same time they need to be in market faster. One of our primary Project Uptime objectives was optimizing the efficiency of our Personalization operations, as the data-driven approach to direct mail using advanced segmentation is key to increasing response rates for new customer acquisition campaigns and customer loyalty programs.
We launched the Project Uptime initiative for our Personalization operations last September after working with a consulting firm. It was the product of months of research and applying Lean manufacturing and Continuous Improvement (CI) principles. Our efforts are already showing strong success across our production platform, and what follows explains how it came to be, how it bolstered our CI efforts, and how it’s providing greater value to our clients.
Why Project Uptime Was Perfect for Our Continuous Improvement Efforts
Last year, we performed an analysis of our Personalization operations to identify CI opportunities. Working with the consulting firm, we identified key areas of improvement, including scheduling enhancements and better data collection that would achieve greater machine uptime and efficiency.
Building from these findings and others, we set our goals—including greater efficiency in our Personalization operations and achieving nearly $1 million in annual savings—and chose our tactics to accomplish them. Some of the ground-level tactical elements of Project Uptime included:
- Implementing production and scheduling method changes, such as designating shift “floaters” who preserve uptime on priority machines during lunch and break times.
- Instituting “hot handoffs,” where machine operators ending a shift give a full assessment to the oncoming operator on how the machine has been running.
- Creating a new machine layout that entailed consolidating, color-coding, and labeling equipment to ensure long-term optimal configurations.
- Providing team leaders and managers with easy-to-use tools to reduce confusion, measure efficiencies, and ensure sustainability.
The Results of Project Uptime to Date
Since its launch, Project Uptime has improved machine efficiency and runtime by an average of 61%. In the first 90 days, it has exceeded our goals and expectations, setting us well on the path to realizing $1 million in savings in its first year.
In addition, it has resulted in new reporting tools for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) along with scheduling tools that have been implemented enterprise-wide. Project Uptime has also created value for our clients, whose increasingly-sophisticated marketing programs need to be executed faster for better return on marketing investment (ROMI).
With Project Uptime showing such strong promise, including its recognition at the Lean and Six Sigma World Conference, we intend to roll out a similar approach in four additional departments across the IWCO Direct enterprise in 2017.
Project Uptime is a testament to the effectiveness of taking a critical look at our processes as well as a guidepost pointing us toward greater efficiencies, decreased downtime, and better value for our clients’ campaigns. We’d like to thank Robert Clark for his leadership on this project, and look forward to its continued success. If you’d like to know more about how CI efforts like Project Uptime help us strengthen our service offerings, contact me today.
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