An unexpected move Toward Zero™

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An unexpected move Toward Zero™

Last year, a tier 1 automotive supplier moved Toward Zero™ unplanned downtime by implementing a system to monitor machine tool performance. The results were surprising.

By collecting 9 months of data from their equipment and looking thoroughly at downtime events, including the conditions that lead up to them, this company was able to create watchdogs to spot common downtime precursors, and alert crews to take action. This led to an approximate 10 % reduction ($8K) of unplanned downtime last quarter. Exciting, but that’s not the surprising part.

What is surprising is what happened with the people. This problematic line drove many of the 16 operators to bid for jobs in other plant locations, and turnover was about 25% per quarter for the last 12 quarters. Four people were leaving the department every 3 months, and no one on the line had been there more than a year. This caused a higher demand for training (to get new operators up to speed) and more operator mistakes, resulting in unplanned downtime–and a higher rate of scheduled downtime–as operators learned the equipment. I’m pleased to report that turnover also moved Toward Zero last quarter. That’s right: turnover last quarter was literally 0%.

But even if we assume a 50% reduction in turnover, keeping in mind the internal cost of training a new operator is about $4K, there is a potential savings of $32K annually on a single line. Imagine the plant-wide impact. This factor alone meets ROI requirements for last year’s project.

In short, manufacturing information systems improve efficiency, quality and productivity. Taking action to improve these things, improves morale. Higher morale amplifies improvements in surprising ways.

I can’t wait to hear how next quarter goes.