Our Lean Journey – Lean Manufacturing

Over the past year we have made significant strides on our Lean journey; we’ve removed unnecessary steps from processes, sped up operations, optimized our growth and centralized our staff company-wide. We’re building a healthy foundation based on process that is crucial to Kemco’s Lean future and overall growth.

The first step in setting the course in a Lean system is a Toyota Production System process for establishing order in a factory, named “5S”. This system sets the stage for discipline with equipment, materials, storage, methods, tools and safety that support the visual communication processes necessary to enable the shop floor or Gemba (Lean Manufacturing term for “the actual place”) to become an organized and disciplined workplace.

The Kemco team has focused on elevating the visualization in the factory by creating a Control Center. This Control Center allows the operations team to quickly assimilate the current status of the operation from one central location in the factory.

The first visual tool that has been established in the Control Center, is the “Tier II Gemba” production board. This is the focal point of daily meetings to review the status of all jobs in process and gather immediate support from all functions to ensure work flows through the factory to meet customer expectations.

Other visual tools in development in the factory include the “Tier I Scheduling” boards and the “Jidoka” (mistake proofing by building quality into the process) board. These visual tools will improve communication and track progress on the shop floor.

In May, the team conducted its first shop floor Kaizen event. This event focused on the installation of a new Iron Worker and defining the layout in the fabrication area. The process started with clear definition by Kaizen Leader, Randy Hartman and a dedicated team of 5 employees. The team Sorted, Set in order and Shined (3 of the 5S) the installation area for the new equipment and in the coming weeks will Standardize the work and the flow while putting in place measures to Sustain the improvement.

Lean is a journey where visual systems and “5S” are the fundamentals. The Kemco workforce continues to adapt to new expectations and systems and the journey continues to evolve. We are dedicated to constructing solid processes vital to Kemco’s growth.