A Look at Continuous Improvement in Action

Continuous improvement is a principle Met2Plastic considers paramount for success. MET’s latest change was the switch from outdated shared computing terminals to the installation of more than 16 Acer Aspire tablets in the shop floor. The tablets increase operator efficiency, accuracy, and supply chain visibility while reducing unnecessary down time. What lead to this innovation and how did MET make it happen?

*Employees can now access visual instructions at every work station.

Identifying the Need for Change

The first step in any continuous improvement journey is detecting how and where improvement can be made. The previous terminal system MET had in place was becoming obsolete and MET could no longer support the risk of running the defunct system. Therefore, the team determined a plan that would modernize the way information is accessed by shop floor employees.

Planning

Like others in the plastics industry, MET utilizes IQMS software for enterprise resource planning (ERP). The IQMS system offers management of a company’s supply chain, shipping, inventory, and production control among a larger range of modules. All MET employees had access to this information through the Wyse terminal system. However, the sluggish terminals were incapable of quickly loading the large amounts of data they were gathering from the server. They were also unreliable, shutting down frequently, which would discourage employees from using them. Additionally, any employee in need of information had to walk over to an unoccupied computer, which lead to unnecessary down time. MET’s leadership team concluded tablets were the most viable option. The process of implementing a new system progressed over the course of two years. It required a diligent search for the proper tablet and the right software.

*New tablets at every press provide real time information from the IQMS system.

Search for the Right Fit

Initially, MET’s team considered IQMS’ mobile ERP software that runs the Android operating system. By running Android, smart phones and tablets could sync real time information.However, IQMS’ Android compatible application limited the kind of information MET needed to display, required the purchase of a new license, and training would need to be implemented to learn the new program. Despite IQMS providing a compelling mobile ERP application, MET”s resourceful team configured the tablets to run the full desktop and shop version of IQMS. This eliminated the need to purchase additional apps and licensing fees and also provided the capability to run other desktop programs, such as Excel.

Measuring Success

Since the installation of the tablets, operators have become more informed and efficient. Real time information such as visual instructions is, literally, at the operator’s fingertips. The tablets have eliminated the need for keyboards or mouses, simultaneously increasing work station space. Barcode scanning capabilities have increased accuracy by eliminating the need to manually type in sensitive data such as lot and work order numbers. The increased accuracy has improved MET”s ability to provide high-quality parts.

Next Steps

Continuous improvement requires long-term commitment. The next step with this mobile system is to provide material handlers with tablets and mobile scanners. Video instructions will also be utilized to improve the training process for future employees.Improvement should be a part of your shop no matter how small the improvement. Small steps, along with a committed leadership team, eventually lead to a culture that fosters the continuous improvement principle, resulting in higher quality products and services for your customers.

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