“What Gets Tracked, Gets Improved.” H&T Drives Continuous Improvement Through Data
Learn how H&T Waterbury reduced micro stoppages by 71%, drove continuous improvement projects, and evaluated success based on data collected from the floor.
See How H&T Waterbury Achieved:
Reduction in Micro Stops
Reduction in Downtime
H&T Waterbury, the world’s largest battery can manufacturer, is an example of world-class manufacturing. Consistently running above 90% OEE, the company produced at a highly efficient level, but as with any plant, there was always room for improvement.
Spencer Cushman, Director of Operations and Matt Hill, Operations Improvement Coordinator at H&T Waterbury, knew a manufacturing productivity solution could find the small problems that would lead to big gains if fixed and continuously improved.
Unplanned shortstops in the high volume, high-speed facility were known to cause scrap, unplanned overtime, and increased costs downstream, but how often these unplanned downtime events occurred was unknown. There was a lack of consensus on which machines were causing the problems, and both the production and maintenance teams at H&T Waterbury could not decide what to act on, when, or how. Manual guesswork wasn’t going to fix the downtime problems.
The team at H&T Waterbury decided to implement SensrTrx. Part of the draw to the platform was the SensrTrx integration with Fiix CMMS which gave H&T Waterbury visibility and communication beyond production, to provide a complete view of the plant.
“I’m a data-driven person, and after 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,” Spencer says.
“We knew all along there was a problem, but we didn’t realize just how bad it was until we got SensrTrx,” he says. The data added up and was surprising, even to someone who evaluates data for a living such as Spencer.
As predicted, SensrTrx, along with Fiix CMMS, helped provide insight into processes, enabling a culture of continuous improvement.
Reducing Micro Stoppages by 71% to Eliminate 18 Hours of Downtime
“SensrTrx helped us realize that our small micro stoppage problem was actually a bigger problem than we anticipated,” Matt said. 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. “SensrTrx was able to identify these problems that we were unable to before unless all we did was stand on the floor and watch.”
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. “The historical data has really played a huge part in our future,” and added, “We need to know where we were to know where we’re going.” This led 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. “The data doesn’t lie,” Matt elaborated.
“I can now nail down to the day, to the hour, when the trend started because of SensrTrx,” he said. “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.
“We are still working on correcting the backwards can problem, but SensrTrx helps us monitor our progress,” Matt said.
About H&T Waterbury
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.
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Finding and Solving Problems, Quickly
“At the end of the day, we will always take a data-driven approach,” Matt said. Beyond the visibility and accountability, the data provides to everyone in the company, it also helps Matt “sell” his ideas to others. This is important because if there’s a problem, proving the effectiveness of an idea becomes much simpler with hard data.
“We have before and after snapshots of what happened and what’s happening now,” he added.
Before, when H&T was manually entering data, there was a lot of opportunity for mistakes. By the time those mistakes were caught, it might’ve been too late. It didn’t provide the ability to find and solve problems, quickly and efficiently.
“What we used before was essentially an Excel sheet,” Matt grimaced, “You might miss a problem, and what you absolutely missed was all of the micro stoppages.” It was clearly a very big problem. Luckily, SensrTrx was able to provide help.
“You can compare it to personal finances,” he said. “You can pay the mortgage, but it’s the small things that add up to large things over time like Starbucks coffee every day.”
The team at H&T is still working to solve problems that arise on the floor, but now they have the ability to actually find and solve those problems.
Providing Visibility to Everyone in the Company
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. On top of the visibility provided to the management team, the entire company has visuals of SensrTrx. “There’s a scoreboard throughout the company, in the offices, on the floor, so everyone sees where we are with the machines,” he said.
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 explained, “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 a place like SensrTrx,” he said. “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 using alerts, and use the data going forward to monitor the effectiveness of those changes.
Alerts helped H&T monitor the effectiveness of changes made. “The alerts we have are fantastic and have helped us tremendously over the past few months,” he said. For the longest time, there was a problem with one of the machines that they just couldn’t figure out how to solve.
While they’ve since solved the problem, which turned out to be a simple solution, alerts and manufacturing insights emails helped to solve it.
“We would monitor on SensrTrx to find out if the things we were doing were actually working,” and added with a smile, “and it helped me not wake up at 2 in the morning to find out if the machine is running or not because I’d know of any problems before I went to bed.”
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 said, “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.
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