Lean Manufacturing…The Great Differentiator

Differentiating PPI from other thermoformers is our greatest challenge; however, utilization of lean concepts has been our great differentiator.  It has enabled us to identify common waste components, such as excess inventory, repetitive defects, overproduction, and under-utilization of our associates.

PPI identified three key success factors to accomplish our lean goals.First, we need to partner with customers that understand the value of lean and would provide us access to their production demand.  Secondly, our supply chain would need to reduce their lead time significantly.  Finally, we would need to apply lean thinking to the administration component of our plan.

The Action Plan for Lean Thinking

As we launched our pilot program, we set a goal to reduce total lead-time from receipt of order through invoice by 50% and began to identify the following actions for success:

  • Identify and train group leaders and dedicated set-up personnel
  • Create a quality plan for each part that identified critical to function customer specifications
  • Manufacture check fixtures where necessary to ensure associates can easily and efficiently assure part quality conformance
  • Identify and maintain dedicated staging areas for tooling, fixtures, cutters, hand tools, etc. to reduce changeover times
  • Reorganize our facilities to provide improved product flow and optimize visibility for team leaders and associates

The Results of Lean Thinking

Implementation of our lean initiative over the past three years has produced significant results, delivering a reduction to our customers’ total product cost and increased profitability.  Aware of the challenges still before us, we are confident that our continuous improvement mindset will build on the results delivered thus far, including:

  • Set-up time reduction of 60%
  • Lead times reduced by 43%
  • 55% increase in throughput
  • Total inventory reduction of 23%
  • Production capacity increased by 20%

The cited improvements do not fully represent the cultural change PPI has undergone as it strives for enhanced customer responsiveness.  It is our management’s belief that understanding our customers’ needs and developing solutions to meet those needs is the key to our future growth and success.

PPI Facility

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John Zerillo

Productive Plastics, Inc.

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