One of the very few high quantity jobs at a previous employer was a plastic rotational molded backpack. The existing assembly cell was small, crowded, messy, and altogether uncomfortable. Above all that, it was not producing parts efficiently or capably. It became my responsibility to remedy all of that.
I started with creating a current state value stream. I quickly realized there was a lot of wasted time and effort. There were a couple obvious bottlenecks, but the process was fairly irregular; at any given time the whole line would shut down because someone would need to leave the work cell looking for parts or supplies. This would sometimes cause work stoppages of up to 20 minutes!
With a variety of lean manufacturing and six sigma techniques I was able to quickly re-organize all of this into a flexible, efficient, organized, and productive work cell that is capable of exceeding daily throughput goals if necessary.
The new work cell highlights use of strategic kanban throughout the cell. The operators are organized with clear roles and responsibilities, which are documented using visual work instructions. An open U-shape allows for easy mobility. Integration with the materials group allows for continuous replenishment of supplies, ensuring that operators can focus on the task at hand rather than on searching for the tools required to perform their duties.