Original Date: 07/09/2007
Revision Date: / /
Information : Process Improvement
The Inpro/Seal Company has implemented ongoing process improvement of its production cells through a dedicated experimental production test cell and a culture that encourages employee teamwork, participation, and ownership of work processes. Having the experimental cell and progressive employee culture has resulted in reduced cycle time and rapid fulfillment of customer orders. Urgent customer orders for same-day shipment are routinely inserted in the production process without disruption and at no additional cost for expedited orders.
The Inpro/Seal Company of Rock Island, Illinois, is a leading producer of bearing isolators for rotating equipment. Bearing isolators replace traditional rotating equipment seals. Inpro/Seal has instilled a culture of teamwork and continuous improvement to meet company goals and objectives. The institution of an experimental production cell at the company’s Rock Island facility includes CNC, milling, and assembly stations for Inpro/Seal’s bearing isolators with an objective to support process improvement by testing various cell layouts intended to reduce the overall cycle time for bearing isolator production.
At a top level, the company works to reduce the time it takes from the release of a job to start production to the time the product is shipped to the customer. The goal is to remove non-value-added or dead time, with an additional metric being to optimize machine operating time to overall process time. Inpro/Seal also measures material used per isolator to its standard to validate the standard and to explore other potential improvement efforts.
A key aspect to Inpro/Seal improvement is that the process improvement function is a recognized part of every employee’s job. Management provides the goals, resources, and environment, including the experimentation cell. Volunteer operators are put in place to develop and then measure the performance of different configurations of the cell that might reduce cycle time and optimize machine-operating time. Production cell operators are relied on heavily in this continuous improvement process. Lessons learned from these efforts are then applied as appropriate in the plant by changing other production cell layouts or work processes. Inpro/Seal employees take obvious pride in the improvements they develop, which are a major contribution to the company’s success.
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