Continuous Improvement double take: the shakeout in shakeout

By C.A. Lawton | June 10, 2020
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Continuous Improvement is, by definition, a never-ending process.  At The C.A. Lawton Co., as with all CI organizations, the mindset of this philosophy becomes part of the culture.  Every team member is trained and prepared to participate in improvement events. 

The week of May 18-22, 2020, the Lawton team embarked on a very ambitious kaizen schedule which included three events.  This article focuses on the first and second events of this kaizen week relating to the shakeout (unmolding) area.  These events included a 6S and a TPM of the area.

6S is an acronym for Sort, Set-in-order, Shine/Simplify, Standardize, Sustain and Safety.  The topic was previously explored in our article “6S for Success.”  This is an approach to organize the workplace to instill an operating discipline and highlight abnormal conditions. 

As CI teaches, there is waste everywhere and everything can be improved.  The 6S system makes these improvement opportunities easier to see and therefore easier to fix.  6S should allow anyone to be able to distinguish abnormal from normal conditions at a glance.  It also makes deviation from best practices obvious at a glance.

All of our continuous improvement is data-driven.  This data drove us to the need to complete a TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) effort in our shakeout area.  TPM is a system of coordinated team efforts for greater equipment effectiveness.  The performance of a TPM in an area cannot be successfully accomplished until a 6S has been done.  In simpler terms, you need to put your house in order before you can improve it.

Now usually this two-step process requires two separate events.  The Lawton team accepted the ambitious challenge of performing both events within the same week.  Not only would this challenge require coordination and communication but also a complete understanding of the objective and its benefits.  Therefore, the teams assembled to perform this task drew skills from many areas that would have the knowledge and be invested in the success of the program.  These areas included the shakeout department itself as well as maintenance, melt deck, engineering, quality, and shipping.

As a normal part of completing any CI event, a report is made to the organization with a presentation.  The presentation identifies the team, the goals, and the process that was followed for the event.  Major obstacles are reviewed to serve as learning points for other future events.  Finally, a “kaizen newspaper” is published which lists what was accomplished and what items remain open. 

Completing a 6S in a large area, a TPM on a large piece of equipment, and publishing a kaizen paper in four and a half days is almost unheard of.  Once again, the Lawton team exhibited their amazing abilities to complete their tasks exceptionally well and in a reduced amount of time. 

Another example of the LEAN spirit at The C.A. Lawton Co. driving continuous improvement.  Remarkable People, Remarkable Results.