Taking off Featured

7:01pm EDT January 31, 2012
Taking off

Under the leadership of President Tom Kinisky, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. first introduced lean to its Ravenna, Ohio, site in 2005. As a designer and manufacturer of RF transparent aircraft radomes and sustainable engineered stone products for use in habitat markets, the company was seeing rapid sales growth as the site’s sales increased as much as 18 percent each year. To manage this fast growth, it realized the importance of increasing efficiency and maximizing the use of the facility.

In 2008, WCM black belt Sue Lamb took over the lean program at Ravenna and held a lean event that combined the problem-solving techniques of Six Sigma with lean waste elimination tools. This event brought to light some sources of inefficiency in the site’s layout as well as numerous opportunities to reduce waste in manufacturing operations. Armed with this knowledge, the company was able to create a Lean Macro Plan for future production that has significantly improved factory efficiency over the last five years.

A key problem was that the production processes in the division weren’t linked together and the site layout didn’t support linear product flow. Since implementing the plan Saint-Gobain has reduced people and product travel distances by as much as 70 percent, improved environmental controls to lower product contamination, eliminated logistics issues by combining operations, and delivered more than $700,000 in annualized savings due to productivity and quality improvements. The resulting shorter lead times and on-time delivery performance have also created a better experience for the company’s customers, which, in turn, has helped the company grow its bottom line and weather the economic downturn.

Since the first lean project in 2005, the lean program has generated more than $2.6 million in benefits to the organization. Recently, the Ravenna site sponsored another four-day lean event to improve workstation cycle times and overall product costs. The event recognized 77 new opportunities for improvements in areas including safety, production output and labor efficiencies.

How to reach: Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., (330) 296-9948 or www.plastics.saint-gobain.com