Kitting and staging: preparation is key for Continuous Improvement
To effectively perform a task, all items required for that task need to be assembled. If the collection of these items is put off until the task has already started, many wastes may be realized before the task can be completed.
Kitting and staging of items required to complete a task is an effective activity to reduce waste in manufacturing processes. This activity ensures that the performance of the task is not delayed while waiting or preparing items that are critical to the completion of the task. Anyone who has seen a production line shut down understands the major impact this can have on the effectiveness of the operation.
While not an automated production line, The C.A. Lawton Co. process does have a flow of operations required to complete any part. This flow is scheduled with special note taken at critical operations which can be bottlenecks causing delay or variations in the process. As a part of our LEAN journey, we have identified these areas as primary focus for our continuous improvement attention.
One such area addressed for kitting and staging is the RAM area of the production floor. This area is responsible for bringing all the parts together into the flask. They combine sand, pattern, and cores to make the mold in which the iron will be poured. Having the right parts in the right quantities available is key to efficient production on the RAM floor. In May of 2020, a Lawton kaizen event was held to establish kitting and staging procedures for this important area. The objective of this kaizen was the reduction of overall throughput time in the RAM area.
One item which is often an issue in any kaizen event is the differing viewpoints of all the team members. This kaizen drew team members from not only the ram floor and production areas, but also engineering, pattern storage, the training groups and purchasing. Early in the process, the team found itself caught up in different ideas on where to stage the kits. This topic became very important because the location would greatly impact the efficiency and reduce the waste of the program. Through open and thorough communication, this hurdle was overcome, and the process continued.
Major points which were addressed in this kaizen included:
Standardization of routings to identify all materials required
Kanban of materials required.
Due to the enormity of this task, it was predicted that this event would take longer than the one week allotted. After one week, the program has been rolled out and is in operation. All that remains to complete the task is to complete the new standardized routings for all parts. The kitting and staging can continue with the current routings. The 3 small pieces of equipment that were “borrowed” from other areas of the foundry will be tried out and if they work these will be purchased and integrated into the work cell.
Our CI consultant, Cathlin Stuntz expressed how pleased she was in this effort. “For anyone that understands, embraces and/or is passionate about CI/Lean – they will recognize the significance of this type of an event – almost anywhere. But in a foundry? I was amazed at this cross-functional team’s focus and drive. They not only addressed the kitting and staging process (location, layout, and process) for the RAM floor but they included the routings, work instructions and standard work needed to support and drive it. Along with that they designed and implemented a Kanban process that will ensure they have what they need when they need it! I’ve been working CI/Lean for over 40 years and this kaizen event is one of the standouts!”
Another proud example of Remarkable People, Remarkable Results at The C.A. Lawton Co.