Software solution underlies project to improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) in a BorgWarner plant. Lean practitioners once hated automation and software. Over the years, though, appropriate use of these technologies actually improves Lean performance. Here is a case study.
The cloud-based lean manufacturing solution provider Leading2Lean was part of a Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) solution that helped auto powertrain maker BorgWarner increase Overall Equipment Effectiveness of an operating area by 10 percent in six months when coupled with its TPM implementation, at its Seneca, SC plant.
Soon after implementing Leading2Lean, the plant began to resolve inefficiencies and frustrations with a system that allowed them to better identify production weaknesses. The plant handled an increase in product demand while still improving First Pass Yield ratios, reducing scrap, maintaining high production levels, better utilizing labor resources, and improving overall communication with management and employees.
The team maintained high levels of operational availability—some areas as high as 90 percent. Area employees drive this process optimization—scheduling, planning and monitoring performance of machines on their lines—all through the Leading2Lean product.
“It’s as easy to use as Facebook or Google,” said Will Venet, TPM Implementation Leader at BorgWarner. Experienced managers also find the system intuitive. “What a reliability engineer took decades of experience to learn can be learned in an afternoon,” Venet said.
Plant Maintenance Engineer Rodney Osborne said the crew used to use “gut checks” to guess which machine needed maintenance or how much money they spent on spare parts for a machine. “But now with Leading2Lean we do a simple report and it tells us—there’s no ambiguity,” Osborne says. “It takes the gut check out of it. It’s real data, and it’s without question a much better way of doing business for us.”
Initially, some employees thought bringing in the Leading2Lean system was an oversight effort, like “Big Brother,” but results soon changed their minds. Today, there is a far more collaborative relationship between Production and Maintenance, and team members at all levels feel more engaged because they are empowered to identify and produce solutions for continuous improvement.
Downtime reductions were driven largely by the engagement of operators. This was because they had easy access to the data and the manipulation of that data to drive improvements in preventative maintenance. What used to take four or five days to analyze through laborious data mining can now be done in 20 minutes.
“The collaborative efforts the team is making for continuous improvement are influenced by having a tool that is universally appreciated,” Venet said. “I’ve come to appreciate that what Leading2Lean is really doing is helping us to be a better manufacturer all around.”