Finished Goods Inventory Department
By Lee Carrier
In addition to our “human capital,” one of the most important assets at Impresa Aerospace is the inventory of products that we manufacture for our customers. Now that many of our customers are moving to “lean/min-max” replenishment ordering systems, our manufacturing strategy has evolved from that of “Just in Time,” to that of forecasting long-range customer demand and then building safety stock to buffer against fluctuations in demand. To accommodate this change in manufacturing strategy, we also needed to change our process for protecting, storing and staging finished goods inventory.
Over the course of the last 6 months, the Finished Goods Inventory Department, consisting of Team Lead: Ricardo Ceja, Alonso Zarate, Wilfredo Castellanos, David Amaya and Omar Elizalde, have done a tremendous job of integrating the processes, procedures and infrastructure to support the changing needs of our organization. Using the lean manufacturing principle of 5S (Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain), the team has been able to turn the department into a world class example that others in the company will surely emulate.
The purpose of sort is to remove unnecessary items, dispose of them properly, and to make work easier by eliminating obstacles and preventing accumulation of unnecessary items. Through a daily cycle-counting program, as well as periodic excess and obsolete inventory reviews, parts with no demand are sorted out of the finished-goods warehouse and staged for destruction. This helps to free-up valuable storage space for inventory needed by the customer in the near future.
The purpose of Straighten is to arrange all necessary items so they can be easily selected for use, making it much easier to find necessary items and ultimately saving time – “Everything in its place and a place for everything.” With over 10,000 different part numbers of varying dimensions, the team was challenged with developing a strategic storage solution to accommodate all parts. With the help of our maintenance team of Chris Pletcher and Francisco “Chino” Menedez, the team designed and fabricated custom storage solutions that meet our varying storage needs. All racks are clearly labeled and tied to bin locations within our EPICOR ERP system. Each rack is arranged by “part family” and “customer” to make picking stock easier and more efficient.
The purpose of Shine is to keep the workplace clean and organized, with the added benefit of safety and properly-functioning equipment. Through their continuous improvement efforts, the team has developed a daily checklist of housekeeping activities, including cleaning the floor to keep the area neat and orderly and storing tools and packaging supplies in carefully labeled locations.
To Standardize is to enact the best practices in the work area and maintain high standards of housekeeping and workplace organization at all times. Over the last six months the team has continued to make daily improvements in the area. Each time an improvement is made, the process is documented, shared with the entire team, and designated as a standard process.
The last and final “S” is Sustain, or in other words, keep in working order. To truly sustain a process every member of the department must “buy-in.” It also requires the team to perform regular audits of the existing process, and continually think about opportunities to improve the current process. Each week the Inventory Team meets to discuss improvement opportunities, and in many cases, changes are implemented immediately. In addition, the team uses the daily Management GEMBA Walk as a forum to provide, or seek, recommendations for improvement. The important thing to note is that everyone in the department has “bought-into” the process, and is committed to sustaining this continuous improvement initiative.
As a result of utilizing the “5S” tools, their tremendous effort and commitment to C.I., the Inventory Team has created an example that other departments should look to emulate. Parts are well protected and easier to locate and the work environment is neat, well-marked and safe.
Please congratulate the team on their outstanding efforts.