“What Gets Tracked, Gets Improved.” H&T Drives Continuous Improvement Through Data
In this case study, you’ll learn how H&T reduced micro stoppages by 71%, drove continuous improvement projects, and evaluated success based on the data collected.
Matt Hill is a problem solver at his company, H&T Battery Components. As the Operations Improvement Coordinator at H&T, Matt is tasked with increasing the efficiency of the plant. No easy feat by any means, but he approaches the task with a data-driven mindset.
Shortly after beginning his role at H&T, Matt realized there were large downtime events causing significant scrap, unplanned overtime, and increased costs.
Reduction in Micro Stoppages
Reduction in Downtime
Downtime in the high volume, the high-speed facility was a significant problem. There was a lack of consensus on which machines were causing the problems, and teams could not decide what to act on, when, or how. The manual aspect of solving these problems was only adding to the headache.
The need for productivity and analytics software was apparent, but after 2 previous data collection systems failed, Matt was leery about the success of yet another system. But he knew the issues facing the biggest battery component manufacturer in the world could not be fixed with manual guesswork. There had to be a solution that would help fix the problems on the floor and deliver a positive return on investment.
For Matt, that solution was SensrTrx.
Reducing Micro Stoppages by 71% to Eliminate 18 Hours of Downtime
“I’m a data-driven person,” Matt said with a smile, “and after backward cans in 4 machines caused 18 hours of downtime, we knew there was a problem. In fact, we were working on Saturdays trying to get the parts out.”
“We realized that our small micro stoppage problem was actually a bigger problem than we anticipated” Given the trends, Matt and his team were seeing, they started a Kaizen event to drill down into the root cause and determine how to fix the problem.
With a team of 5, ideas were collected and voted on. It was decided to go with the first 3 and use trial and error to fix the problem, eliminating the banter back and forth in deciding on a course of action. “SensrTrx takes the human opinion out of the equation,” Matt said, “until you get to the point of action when human opinions can be added back in.”
The results were surprising. “What we found was that the small micro stoppages were much worse than the big stops over time,” he said.
The use of historical data to see trends over time helped find the root cause. This lead his team to a consensus on how to solve the problem, with the use of data, eliminating the need to make decisions based on gut feel, and in the process, reducing manual errors.
“I can now nail down to the day, to the hour, when the trend started because of SensrTrx,” he says. “If something happens to make the backward can problem reduce more than 65%, we see this and watch for future improvements or declines, and then we can take action to either fix or imitate. We now have the foundation to match current trend data with historical data to match up with our corrective action.”
“And, now we don’t need to say, “I think it’s better.” Or “Hey, Mr. Operator, is it better?”. We can prove that it is or is not better, which is why we like SensrTrx,” he added.
Finding and Solving Problems, Quickly
As the primary administrator of SensrTrx, Matt sees all of the data flow into the system and is made aware of any problems almost immediately, but he realized there was a need for others to see it as well. With SensrTrx, all upper management receives daily production reports at the end of every day’s 1st and 2nd shift as well as a weekly report at the close of the Saturday shift.
The transparency and effectiveness of keeping everyone in the loop “yet again helped us find another problem,” he said.
Typically, everyone is aware of the average numbers for the plant because of the daily production reports, creating a consensus among teams. This level of insight helped to find a problem on the floor, too. At the end of one of the 2nd shifts, inconsistencies were noticed, Matt explains, “the 2nd shift was lagging according to the numbers.”
“We took the historical data of the 2nd shift over the past few weeks and compared it to the most recent, and immediately, we knew why the counts were down. The information told us what was going on, all thanks to a trend line,” Matt said.
With data, the team was able to determine which machines were the strongest and which were the weakest, which is often tied to the people working on them. But this isn’t an example of subjecting employees to ridicule or discipline, but rather an opportunity to help everyone learn and perform at their best. It’s an opportunity to ask, “What can we do to help them?”
“Again, the data will surprise you every time you look at it,” he added.
Monitoring Effectiveness and Driving Continuous Improvement
“I’ve been working with data and solving problems for the last 8 years, but never had anything in place like SensrTrx,” he says. “Having SensrTrx started something we didn’t know before; all of the problems we thought were small problems actually weren’t.”
With real-time, tangible data, Matt and his team were able to implement corrective action to fix the problems affecting production, monitor the actions taken, and use the data going forward to monitor the effectiveness of those changes. As Matt said, the data proves if an action was positive, neutral, or negative, and helps H&T know where they were, and where they stand today.
“What gets tracked, gets improved,” Matt adds, “and now we have a much better understanding of our stoppages and the frequency of stoppages.”
As manufacturers know, improvement never stops, but as H&T learned, data can help to increase efficiency, reduce scrap, increase output, and eliminate micro stoppages and downtime on the floor.
“When you have a data-driven approach, you tend to work better as a team, too, because it’s fact and not opinion,” Matt added.
As the largest battery can manufacturer in the world, H&T values speed and efficiency. If they can nail a 1-2 increase over 6 months, that is a huge value and an even bigger return on investment.
“SensrTrx was the simplest and most effective, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who asks,” he said and added, “You’d be surprised what the little bits add up to – big stoppages and lots of scrap.”
With SensrTrx, the future of manufacturing productivity is fully charged for Matt Hill and the largest battery can manufacturer in the world, H&T.
H&T Battery Components is the world’s largest manufacturer of battery components for the consumer battery market and a fast-growing supplier for the rechargeable battery industry. Strong innovation coupled with proven expertise ensures successful long term partnerships with the world’s leading battery manufacturers.