We helped an international apparel manufacturer increase cell throughput 45-90%
Garment manufacturer, specializing in sportswear with a distinctive characteristic of making products tailored to customer needs in a one-piece lot size. Approximately 70% of the production orders are one piece. The average order size is about 3 pieces.
The Client Ask:
Increase the plant’s production levels utilizing existing resources (plant space, people, and machinery), and do so as quickly as possible.
Plant Attributes at Project Start:
Starting at the end of 2021, the company began to experience an increase in demand for its products above expected projections. As a result, they were not able to fulfill customer orders with their existing resources. If this volume continued, they would need to consider a plant expansion, more personnel and machinery, but in the short-term needed assistance using existing resources to meet the new demand.
What We Did:
To help us better understand production flow, we worked with the client leadership team to identify the plant bottlenecks at the process level; this led us to the plant’s sewing department as the primary flow buster! Then, working with client cross functional teams, we analyzed end products and identified product families, defined priorities, assigned product families to specific production lines, and conducted four Cell Design Kaizen Events to train engineers in the cell design process. These individuals were then charged to continue deploying this process all over the sewing departments in two plants.
During those Kaizen Events, it was found that the biggest wastes were related to time lost by the operators when:
- Searching and bringing materials to their workplaces
- Opening and closing product packages in each operation
The main changes introduced in the cells were:
- Establishing a work-balance playbook determined by takt-time
- Reconfiguring the operation to a continuous one-piece-flow
- Assigning one material handler to provide the operators all the needed materials. This avoided interrupting their work to find/collect items.
Over the course of the project, the productivity in the cells, measured in terms of “pieces per person per hour,” increased between 40% and 95% allowing additional product to be processed in the cells without additional assets (equipment or human).
As the plant continued with this effort in the rest of the production lines, they were able to fulfill the new customer demand with their existing resources.
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