ESL strives to educate our team and empower them to help our company be productive and successfully serve our customers. ESL’s organizational goals include the refinement of existing processes, and educating our employees on the importance of continuous improvement.
ESL aims to certify our employees in Six Sigma in order to foster a culture of structured data-driven decision making following the DMAIC process (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control).
This year’s ESL Six Sigma Green Belt class graduated with flying colors. Completion of the Green Belt class includes demonstrating a competence in using the Six Sigma tools and using those tools to improve various business processes under the coaching of a Six Sigma Black Belt.
To provide an award for their hard work and to see how well the team could apply their new-found knowledge, the ESL Green Belt class had the opportunity to visit the Fender Guitar Factory. Fender also trains Green Belts and this tour gave the ESL team a chance to see how another company is applying the Six Sigma tools. During the tour, the team learned about the CNC milling/stamping of guitar components, the extensive polishing process to the body of a guitar to create a smooth finish, and the meticulous assembly to the neck of the guitar. “Standard Work” was apparent at all stations of Fender’s manufacturing processes.
The team showed great enthusiasm during the tour and is looking forward to applying these tools at ESL in the future!
In an effort to expand our continuous improvement strategies, ESL initiated a new employee participation program appropriately named the “Treasure Hunt.” Employee volunteers work in teams of 3 with the goal of finding quick fixes for common problems throughout our organization. Basically, do a lot with a little!
This new program allows employees to venture throughout our company putting “fresh eyes” on different areas of the business. For 4 hours, the teams consisting of both office and shop floor personnel walk around the production floor, office, and surrounding building speaking to fellow coworkers from various areas and brainstorming solutions. Some team members already have ideas for improvements going into the Treasure Hunt. Other teams discover improvement ideas while investigating various departments and workflows. The idea is to spend as little money as possible and fix discovered problems with materials on hand.
Once problems and solutions are identified, our Treasure Hunt volunteers present their recommendations to a small board of executives at ESL. Once solutions are approved, the groups are then given the green light to make the updates. At this point, the teams are contending for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes (Treasure!) based on successful implementation. Below are some examples of problems solved:
Team Problem Solvers: Discovered a few loose safety pins in the inventory racks. This resulted in a simple solution to add bolts, washers and nylok nuts to ensure the racks are more secure.
Team Goon Squad: Discovered that we can use an out of use wire stripping machine for our standard cables. Our current method of hand stripping took 25 seconds per cable. With the wire stripping machine, we can strip the same cable in 10 seconds. Overall, employees will be stripping hundreds of wires more safely and efficiently!
Team Pirates of Palisades: With an increase in production, floor space has become limited. This team suggested implementing new racks with a loft design. The idea of the loft is that it will not impede the current work space and we can now use the rack space above it to hold additional inventory.
Because of the overwhelming response and excitement generated by this event, ESL has put this program on quarterly rotation to help continuously improve our work place! What does your company do to get the team involved in continuous improvements? We’d love to hear new ideas!
In line with ESL’s philosophy to constantly improve and grow, our company has committed to working towards a Lean culture. Our company culture focuses on a combination of defining customer value, aligning around a common purpose, and striving for perfection. Watch our video below and learn how ESL constantly aims to provide quality service and continuously identify value in the eyes of our customers. Enjoy!
In February, at the beginning of our adventure, we described what Lean Six Sigma is, and the need for implementation at ESL Power Systems. ESL constantly seeks to identify ways to improve. To recap, even the best companies have waste (things that don’t add value to the product) and variation in processes that cost a company money. Our goal is to focus on getting the customer what they want, when they want it, “right the first time.”
OUR ROAD MAP
The first step in our journey was to educate and help everyone on board understand the path we were heading down. This very important first step allowed employees, from company owners to shop assemblers, comprehend the concept of continuous improvement and got everyone moving in the same direction.
TOOLS ALONG THE WAY
The first tool we put in place was 5S. The goal of 5S is to organize the workplace for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order. The 5S steps are Sort, Set-in-Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. At ESL, I’m happy to say that we are well along the 5S road!
Another tool being used is the “value stream map.” This “map” helps navigate our processes and seeks to eliminate waste. Along the same lines, we have implemented software called LeanKit, which assists in visualizing our work as it flows through our company, providing a big-picture understanding of our procedures.
Moving forward, ESL’s executive committee has completed what we call the “3SL.” This is a 3 year plan for the organization that spells out a clear “true north;” ensuring everyone in the company knows what our plans are for the future. This transparency of goals ensures the company as a whole is heading in the right direction. The 3SL contains (3) elements:
10 key metrics tracked
Goals for each metric
Specific projects to get us to our goal
This has become the most important document in the company.
We have made much progress over the last several months, and we must work hard to continually improve our products and processes to remain competitive in an ever changing market. We feel positive we will be successful and through our continuous improvement program create additional value for our customers in the future.
In manufacturing, Lean is popular for its systematic approach to streamlining workflow by eliminating waste while continuing to deliver value to customers.
Six Sigma is a structured method for problem solving and reducing variation in a process. Using the Six Sigma methodology in a manufacturing environment can reduce the amount of defective products produced, resulting in increased revenue and greater customer satisfaction.
So, what is Lean Six Sigma?
Great Question! Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that relies on an entire team effort to improve performance by removing waste. By combining lean manufacturing and Six Sigma, ESL aims to eliminate the seven kinds of waste: Time, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over production, Over processing, and Defects (abbreviated as ‘TIMWOOD’).