Increasing Utilization to Achieve Schedule Attainment

The Challenge:

The objective of the project was to increase productivity through improvements in cycle time and balancing the workload distribution. The project scope included pre-production departments such as Engineering, Drafting, Project Management, and Scheduling alongside the production team itself.

The Brampton facility offers a full range of services stemming from sales to installation. A typical project will engage the Engineering/Drafting team to design the pieces needed in order to satisfy a customer request for a wide range of applications. The pieces are then manufactured, shipped, and finally erected at a client site – similar to a puzzle.

The production plant is designed to accommodate two key product types – Flexwall panels and custom pieces. Flexwall panels are engineered panels that tend to be relatively consistent in terms of the hardware used to make them and the type of final product they represent. Each custom piece tends to be quite different in size, shape, and hardware needed ultimately requiring a significant amount of customization.

In November 2014, Carpedia was invited to perform an opportunity analysis at one of Armtec’s Ontario-based operations. A formal review of the scheduling methodology revealed that extensive changes occurred on a daily basis due to missing drawings, missing hardware, and inadequate resources. Poor visibility to resource utilization prohibited management from cross-utilizing the personnel based on their skillsets among the Set-up, Casting, and Stripping functions. Due to continuous nature of the manufacturing process, any delays experienced in preceding steps resulted in downtime downstream. Lastly, inadequate and infrequent reporting capabilities overlooked the opportunity for timely variance resolution.

To address these challenges, Carpedia and Armtec engaged in an 18 calendar week project to analyze and develop improvements to processes, management systems, and management behaviors throughout the organization, in order to increase visibility and predictability in the business.

The Results:

With process, management system, and behavioral changes implemented throughout the organization, the achieved results were as follows:

  • Aggregate financial results are tracking 55% better than the initial project plan.
  • The plant productivity increased by 15.1% over the base period.
  • Direct labor utilization increased by 6.5% over the base period.
  • Schedule attainment is tracking at 92% since implementation and continues to improve (metric was not previously tracked).

Behavioral requirements and Management System tools were developed to help manage the process:

  • A 5-day fixed production schedule was implemented to ensure alignment with the customers, upstream / downstream departments, and to highlight resourcing needs which relate back to the sales estimates
  • A production work assignment platform was developed in order to prevent functional overlapping and subsequent downtime.
  • A resource planning tool was developed in Shipping in order to identify staffing requirements based on planned volumes using a three-week horizon promoting optimal decision making.
  • A set of robust management tools were developed and instituted in order to provide visibility to performance in bi-hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and annual increments.
  • Front line leaders received classroom-based problem solving training in addition to 8 weeks of hands on application in order to help guide continuous improvement initiatives and to ensure results will sustain post project.

The Client Experience:

“The Carpedia team assisted us in developing a significantly improved shop floor scheduling process that has delivered improved labor productivity through better efficiencies and utilization. So far, what has been equally impressive is that the supervisory team have embraced the new processes and are experiencing some success for the rest time in a long time. This has been accomplished in one of our more challenging operating environments and cultures.”

President & CEO, Armtec LP

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