Content By Thomas R. Cutler

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Lean theory suggests that the possibilities for quality improvement exist everywhere. Rarely does that concept translate to a damaged corrugated box in a warehouse—but it should. The cost of damaged packaging, particularly cardboard containers, is very significant in bottom-line costs (damaged merchandise, replacement, and reshipping costs) as well as negative customer satisfaction costs.

Cardboard box makers cannot guarantee that orders will be free of gluing defects, the primary source of box quality defects. Even technology that promises box makers the ability to provide 100-percent visual inspection of every glue tab to ensure their perfectly glued boxes, falter under weight capacities and stacking realities.

The Fibre Box Association (FBA) and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) have attempted to help companies benchmark plant performance with the newly updated Productivity and Waste Survey, which provides useful benchmarking data. The report provides metrics so that companies can evaluate productivity, waste, and starch consumption data against participating plants. Surveying top performers, it includes information on machinery and labor operations, as well as waste from box plants in U.S. operations, as well as several international plants.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

One of the most demanding problems lean manufacturing faces in discrete manufacturing is control of first operations, where raw material may be cut into multiple parts. First operations such as laser or CNC Punch Press processes dictate what parts are available to subsequent operations, thereby controlling much of the downstream process flow.

Building an optimal nest of parts is a complex problem. Nesting isn’t axiomatic. The ability to read an active-order file for the current demand of parts, extract the appropriate ready-to-nest parts, drawing upon parameters established to create the optimal nesting pattern, is far from axiomatic. A host of factors must be considered, from material efficiency, part priorities (today’s orders, hot parts, filler parts), setup costs, order completion, labor, and machine throughput to name a few.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Manufacturing firms intent on capturing and distilling rich streams of data will find them. Companies will often look at a capability maturity model (CMM) in rows and columns—a format common across many industries and many applications—in Excel. Most data dumped from a database end up in a grid, whether it’s manufacturing or transactional data.

Each row may represent a part that is inspected, each column a dimension or reading. Most engineers see these data tasks as junk work that takes hours to prepare and keep up with. One manufacturing executive reported that it took 24 PowerPoint slides to document this activity, including 43 discrete steps, including two loops, one of seven steps and one of 19 steps.

“The Six Sigma community puts up with an amazing amount of busy work in order to become data-driven,” says Evan J. Miller, president and CEO of Hertzler Systems. “Frequently, manufacturing executives define this data collection process as ‘the every day junk work that we do that we call our jobs,’” he asserts. “The roots of this situation are deep within Six Sigma itself: Black Belts are brought into training, assigned to a project, and told to go start measuring something. They are rarely IT people, but they are smart, resourceful, and very driven. They go and get some data.

“The time this process requires is substantial,” says Miller.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Manufacturing firms intent on capturing and distilling rich streams of data will find them. Companies will often look at a capability maturity model (CMM) in rows and columns—a format common across many industries and many applications—in Excel. Most data dumped from a database end up in a grid, whether it’s manufacturing or transactional data.

Each row may represent a part that is inspected, each column a dimension or reading. Most engineers see these data tasks as junk work that takes hours to prepare and keep up with. One manufacturing executive reported that it took 24 PowerPoint slides to document this activity, including 43 discrete steps, including two loops, one of seven steps and one of 19 steps.

“The Six Sigma community puts up with an amazing amount of busy work in order to become data-driven,” says Evan J. Miller, president and CEO of Hertzler Systems. “Frequently, manufacturing executives define this data collection process as ‘the every day junk work that we do that we call our jobs,’” he asserts. “The roots of this situation are deep within Six Sigma itself: Black Belts are brought into training, assigned to a project, and told to go start measuring something. They are rarely IT people, but they are smart, resourceful, and very driven. They go and get some data.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Powerful brands can drive success in competitive markets and become the organization’s most valuable assets. Wikipedia suggests that, “Brands were originally developed as labels of ownership: name, term, design, and symbol.” Today, how brands reflect and engage people and how they define people’s aspirations matters much more.

Clarity

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Powerful brands can drive success in competitive markets and become the organization’s most valuable assets. Wikipedia suggests that, “Brands were originally developed as labels of ownership: name, term, design, and symbol.” Today, how brands reflect and engage people and how they define people’s aspirations matters much more.

Clarity
A muddled corporate identity can hinder success in the marketplace. A confusing corporate identity can adversely affect a manufacturer’s success. In contrast, well-known corporate identities, including graphics, design, and color components demonstrate successful corporate branding. These elements translate into a quantifiable quality control consistency that drives predictable sales processes, including a shorter sales cycle because of familiarity on the part of the potential client.

Step-by-step methods for conducting initial communication audits are critical in the same way a kaizenblitz or other lean manufacturing methods are used to evaluate and measure the efficacy of the plant floor. From industrial firms to consumer-products companies, the metrics that determine corporate image affect the company branding as consistent or confusing; it’s vital to the sales process.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

In the first quarter of 2007, my company conducted a complex-manufacturing research survey of 1,473 senior management level executives (CEO, COO, CFO, vice-president of operations). Complex manufacturers were defined as those employing “other than exclusively repetitive manufacturing processes” including engineer-to-order, made-to-order, and assemble-to-order. The data include a wide range of industry cross-sections, geography, public and private companies, numbers of employees, and annual revenues, and revealed a clear change from a similar survey done in 2000. The statistically significant difference from the identical 2000 survey to the current 2007 survey is that the complex manufacturers face increasing business and global requirements. There’s also an increasing international diversity of customers, suppliers, and partners.

Complex Manufacturers

 

2000

2007

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

In the first quarter of 2007, my company conducted a complex-manufacturing research survey of 1,473 senior management level executives (CEO, COO, CFO, vice-president of operations). Complex manufacturers were defined as those employing “other than exclusively repetitive manufacturing processes” including engineer-to-order, made-to-order, and assemble-to-order. The data include a wide range of industry cross-sections, geography, public and private companies, numbers of employees, and annual revenues, and revealed a clear change from a similar survey done in 2000.

The statistically significant difference from the identical 2000 survey to the current 2007 survey is that the complex manufacturers face increasing business and global requirements. There’s also an increasing international diversity of customers, suppliers, and partners.

Complex Manufacturers

 

2000

2007

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Industrial-marketing programs must encompass the full range of activities needed to grow a business profitably, and often these programs neglect to cover the retention and expansion of a business with existing profitable customers.

In a global competitive environment, a lean industrial-marketing process must help to identify target markets, target customers, and target channels of sales and distribution. The program must focus on profitable growth and financial performance that matches the best-in-class global competitors. The assessment of an industrial-marketing program must include the determination and justification of new global markets with products that offer a superior performance advantage, including an attack strategy for countering foreign competition.

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

By: Thomas R. Cutler

Industrial-marketing programs must encompass the full range of activities needed to grow a business profitably, and often these programs neglect to cover the retention and expansion of a business with existing profitable customers.

In a global competitive environment, a lean industrial-marketing process must help to identify target markets, target customers, and target channels of sales and distribution. The program must focus on profitable growth and financial performance that matches the best-in-class global competitors. The assessment of an industrial-marketing program must include the determination and justification of new global markets with products that offer a superior performance advantage, including an attack strategy for countering foreign competition.

Whether internally evaluated by a lean initiative team, or externally examined by a consultant, the lean (quasi-kaizen event) in an industrial-marketing program must assist manufacturers in identifying the cost to produce each product line as well as a comparison to the sale of each line item. “Industrial marketing programs help clients to track individual customer sales and profitability.