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FLEXO Magazine : June 2011
FTA TODAY Robinson advocates implementing systems and proce- dures that sustain and advance CI initiatives. “No silver bullets apply. Shift team leaders need to be certain that a consistent and persistent message is delivered. They are our Lean champions. Continuous communication starts with them,” he states. “ When you are out to reduce makeready times, trim waste and have savings flow to the bottom line, direct dialogue with the people who can make it happen is essential. That culture piece is most important.” He emphasizes the importance of empowerment. “ We are asking someone to change. We are asking someone to take risks. Trust is the foundation,” he notes. “ We must foster a willingness to experiment. Mistakes are allowed. That way, we move forward faster and make deposits that better our own company and its performance.” FailprooFing 101 John Compton, professor emeritus at Rochester Institute of Technology, and principal, Compton Associates, Bonita Sprigs, FL, outlines 10 reasons improvement efforts fail. “Lean thinking employees must know the customer ’s definition of value, understand waste, and recognize their impact on cost, quality and cycle time.” He lists warning signs requiring ac- tion as follows: • Too much emphasis on tools and too little on Lean thinking. • Too much focus on Kaizen or CI events and not enough on daily improvement. • Process optimization within departments, rather than across them. • Lack of resources to train and assist employees. • Lack of upper management understanding, commitment and participation. • Lack of standard work practices. • Lack of a long-term plan. • Insufficient communication. • Too many competing priorities. • Insufficient use of employee brainpower. “Employees at all levels need training to help develop awareness, understanding and applica- tion of improvement methods,” Compton says. “ T hey also need coaching on applying the meth- ods to their daily work.” He suggests that printers/ converters create a core body of knowledge that all employees must have, and then provide learn- ing activities for all employees to acquire that knowledge. “Use a train-do approach whenever possible,” he urges. “Standards provide a basis for em- ployee training. Establish process stability. Reveal clear stop and start points for each process. Assist with auditing and problem solving. Enable effective employee involvement and mistake proofing. Maintain organizational knowledge.” To that, he adds, “Standardized tasks are the foundation for continual improvement and em- ployee empowerment.” He prompts print execu- tives to “grow leaders who understand the work, live the philosophy and teach it to others.” Makeready Made easy Alan Phillips and Jim Watson of Clearwater Paper Corp., Port Hueneme, CA, assess makeready trends and bring out five points of contention. Specifically: run lengths are short and getting shorter; customers don’t want the added cost of inventories; customers are moving toward a ‘milk-run’ mental- ity; makereadies typically cover costs only; and the more makereadies performed, the higher percentage of time spent just covering costs. In applying value-stream mapping and Kaizen/CI prin- ciples to makeready improvement programs, Phillips and Watson suggest constant repetition of the following steps: • Observe the current method. • Separate internal tasks from external tasks. • Convert as many internal tasks to external tasks as pos- sible. • Simplify internal tasks. • Simplify external tasks. • Document the improved procedure. drive Cultural shiFts Fred Betzen, vice president of operations at Huhtamaki Packaging, De Soto KS, has been spearheading imple- mentation of the corporate-wide CI program for five years. The launch coincided with new acquisitions that brought paperboard, rigid plastics and molded fiber output to what was once exclusively a flexible packaging converter. The effort now involves 12,000 employees and 10 plants in North America, so structure is both a requirement and formality. Betzen sees plant managers as the true champions of the program who must drive the cultural shift. “Don’t chase butter- flies. Structure and define principles,” he says. “Assign spe- cific metrics to each cost that we are trying to drive out. Never stop reviewing yourself. Never stop looking in the mirror.” He recalls starting with printing operations. “ When it came to setting and staging the next job, we looked at how we were L-R: Michael Murphy, Japs-Olson; Irv Robinson, Robbie Fantastic Flexibles; and Michael Keene, The John Roberts Company—print CEOs go on the record. 38 FLEXO JunE 2011 www.flexography.org
Sustainable Spring 2011