Spreading responsibility

Jerry Bialko, operations manager, Cobra Plastics Inc.

In 2008, Cobra Plastics Inc., led by President Kent A. Houser moved from a 33,000-square-foot plant in Twinsburg Township to a 100,000-square-foot facility in Macedonia. In 2010, Operations Manager Jerry Bialko joined the team, and since then, the aerosol overcap manufacturer has taken advantage of the extra space to transform its production processes, management system and culture to fully embrace lean manufacturing.

Among the lean manufacturing initiatives Cobra has undertaken are a “Six S” sorting program (the six S’s stand for sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain and safety), a continuous improvement employee training and development program, a monthly kaizen manufacturing improvement event, a “Supermarket” inventory replenishment system, visual controls to heighten the company’s focus on accountability and process, and a biweekly health and safety audit.

The monthly kaizen event, based on the Japanese kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement, involves multiple groups crossing functional lines, according to the company. One result of these events has been the creation of what Cobra calls a “crash cart,” based on the concept of the similarly named emergency resuscitation units used in hospitals. Cobra’s crash cart contains virtually everything a mold setter needs to change a mold, including hoses and fitting straps, numbered and coded by color. Mold setters at Cobra no longer need to leave their station because they have everything they need nearby, neatly organized, and easy to monitor and maintain. As a result, the amount of time needed for a mold change has been reduced from as much as six hours to less than two hours, according to the company.

Cobra has undertaken all of these initiatives and the sizable investments they entail during a tough economic downturn. Cobra’s employees take great pride in their achievements, and “What else can I do?” has become a company motto, popping up on signs around the facility.

HOW TO REACH: Cobra Plastics Inc., (330) 425-4260 or www.cobraplastics.com