As mentioned in some of our earlier MPE blogs, one of the main focuses of our strong Continuous Improvement program is incorporating lean processes to eliminate waste – including eliminating rejects and extra processing.
Our “Spark the Arc” CI Team was formed to evaluate our current welding processes, to identify areas for improvement, and implement needed changes.
Welding in a low volume, high mix manufacturing environment, MPE is heavily dependent on manual welding vs. robotic welding. MPE is very fortunate to have highly skilled welders that know our products well and understand the critical quality and aesthetic requirements of our customers. They are craftsmen people and take great pride in their work.
During their assessment of the current situation, the “Spark the Arc” team discovered that our individual welders had different methods / processes for ensuring they were doing the jobs correctly relying on their individual “tribal” knowledge. The team analyzed the different methods being used and determined that implementing best practices standardization would provide a more consistent, quality outcome within the department.
The CI team standardized the Welding Work Flow Process by:
- Improving the layout of the department for work flow
- Implementing a Fixture Validation Process to quickly identify welding fixtures no longer in tolerance
- Upgrading our Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) System to failsafe for first-piece inspection
- Creating a “Hold” tagging process to ensure work-in-progress was not mixed with finished product
- Adding in-process inspection checks
Benefit highlights from this standardization include:
- 76% reduction in NCMRs for welding from Quarter 1 to Quarter 2 in 2016
- Reduction of Non-Conforming Material Rejects (NCMRs) for Top 5 Reason Rejection Codes for the department
- A visual notification of incomplete parts to ensure they are not being moved into finished production until they are completed
- Standardized processes that yield consistent results and are easier to train, audit and sustain
Planned future improvements evolving from this team project are the development of Welding Work Instructions for specific jobs, continual upgrades of MRP quality checks, and utilization of our Product Data Management (PDM) system to manage Work Flow Fixture Design and Validation.