In August of 2018, YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. in Macon, Georgia reached a $2 million savings plateau through its Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) program. According to Melissa Morin, the continuous improvement leader for both YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. in Macon, Georgia and YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, this savings was achieved with the help of 48 improvement teams that were setup within all of the YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. plants in Macon, Georgia including the slide fastener, textile, brass wire, and textiles and plastics plants, as well as within the YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. Snap and Button Products plant in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. This savings occurred from 2012 when the TPM program was first launched until August of 2018.
“TPM is a structural methodology for continuous improvement,” states Morin. “It really focuses on making improvements from the ground up using the biggest part of our workforce – our operators and mechanics. When you are trying to analyze what is going on with your machines, your greatest assets are the employees who operate the machines every day.
“TPM is a process to help you figure out your losses. You can have a time loss or a speed loss, and you try to figure out where the problems are. We use TPM to increase our productivity and our quality.
“The whole reason why we were able to do this program is due to the support of the employees. Everyone having an open mind and being open to changes has helped with our success.”
In addition to talking with Morin, we interviewed two other employees who are Focused Improvement (FI) pillar owners of the TPM program, and they are responsible for managing material loss within their plants and tracking the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of the machines in their plants and finding ways to improve the performance and productivity of the machines. Here is what they had to say.
Robin Barnhill, senior technical engineering manager in the engineering center in Macon, is the focused improvement (FI) pillar co-owner in the slide fastener plant. “The FI pillar is responsible for data collection related to key performance indicators (KPIs) within the slide fastener plant,” says Barnhill. “We use the FI pillar to track overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) from each department. We compile the data for all of the slide fastener plant so we can analyze the greatest overall losses. The FI pillar directs other pillars on specific areas that need teams launched.
“The biggest thing about the FI pillar is that we are very cross functional, and we have learned how to break down departmental silos. We use TPM methodology to develop deployment strategies that are going to benefit the slide fastener group as a whole. In the past, individual departments were trying to track and reduce losses by themselves. With the TPM program, we are able to combine resources to attack organizational losses that have the greatest effect on the slide fastener plant’s overall productivity.
When asked what team had the biggest impact, Barnhill states, “We have a textile team that identified a single yarn that was breaking during the weaving process of our 5CH PLF8 tape. Every time the yarn breaks, an operator has to make a connection. By re-routing the yarn from the creel to the frames, the team was able to reduce yarn breaks by 80%. The 5CH chain ultimately goes into 700 meter boxes for the automotive industry. If there are too many connections, we have to scrap it. So this team improved efficiency at textile and reduced material loss in our spooling process.”
Remarking on the TPM process as a whole, Barnhill states, “I feel like the TPM process has given us methodologies that will enable us to get better data collection and understand our losses so we can improve our overall efficiencies.”
Shannon Kearney is the operations manager and FI pillar owner for the brass wire plant at YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. in Macon, Georgia. Having saved $1,096,765.28, his plant has contributed a large portion to the $2 million TPM savings that YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. reached in August.
“With the FI pillar, we collect data on the machine performance as related to OEE,” said Kearney. “OEE is basically the value added time divided by the theoretical capability of a machine. For example, if the theoretical capability of a machine is it runs 10,000 meters of good product in an hour, but you only made 5,000 meters, the value added time is only 30 minutes.
“You would then ask what happened during the remaining 30 minutes. We would put together a team to analyze the losses involved with the machine which would include the operator, the mechanics and some employees who may not have any knowledge of this process. Sometimes a problem can be a combination of many different causes, and you drill down to the root causes. For example, if a machine had an OEE loss of 50% and 2% of the loss involves breakdowns and 5% involves speed loss and 30% involves short stops where there is a pause in a machine that requires an operator intervention, we would look at the short stops because they cause the most trouble.
“Since machine operators run the machines, they know the machines and they know the process. By getting them involved in analyzing the losses on a machine, it gives them the ability to make improvements to the machine. TPM provides people on the floor of the plant with more responsibility. It gives them the ability to come up with standardized procedures for maintaining the machines. They can come up with best practices and methods, and they can train the mechanics and co-workers.
“The brass wire plant is a materials plant that provides the materials for brass zippers. If we run a defective product, we can re-melt the material and use it again to make a new product. The impact of producing a defective product is only the process cost because we can recycle that material internally.
“Overall, we have positive feelings because everyone in the factory is involved with improvement. When we started, we had people who complained because they said they already had enough to do with their jobs. But they have been able to see for themselves that the condition of their work area and machines has improved, and it has made their jobs easier.
“When an operator can actually see the results of the TPM program it makes them excited because they can see the overall improvement from what they’ve done because they are running the teams. They benefit. So it is a win win situation.”
No doubt, YKK USA Macon will continue to see the benefits of its TPM program as its employees continue to find ways to improve its processes. These improvements will result in greater savings, as well as increased productivity, better products with fewer defects, and improved delivery times.