Contribution is a product of teamwork. Teamwork is a product of improvement. Improvement is a product of success. In order to generate these ingredients to success, it is necessary for a manufacturing company to take the time to conduct continuous improvement activities.

PC Systems held a full Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) event on August 24, 2011. More details are to come about the event in its entirety, but for now I want to dive into a story detailing the almost immediate benefit that team LEAN events can have on a manufacturing process.

Participants of the SMED LEAN event at PC Systems came from many branches of the company, each had one goal in mind: Reduce changeover time of mold tooling. The suspects included company quality manager, engineering manager, engineer, production manager, two plastic injection mold operators, and machinist. The integration of thoughts from each branch led to many noteworthy ideas. Among these ideas was the thought of knurling the allen wrenches used by the mold operators for die change out. Moving forward, it was suggested that rather than using a manual socket allen wrench, it would be more effective to use the services of a battery powered electric drill. These baseline ideas provided the foundation to what was considered to be the best option: An air powered allen wrench.

The iterative process of coming up with this seemingly simple idea portrays the impact that conducting team LEAN events can have. It took the minds of many to come up with such an elementary yet effective solution.  Participant contribution and teamwork allowed for immediate success. The new idea was implemented just days after the event, and is proving to be a solid starting point on the road to tooling changeover time reduction.