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Thomas R. Cutler

Quality Insider

Shorewood Packaging Improves Lean Productivity

Real-time shop floor data make all the difference

Published: Sunday, June 4, 2006 - 21:00

At the Shorewood Packaging Midland Avenue facility in Toronto, real-time information helps yield world-class lean manufacturing results. Shorewood Packaging is part of International Paper, which has operations in more than 40 countries and sells its products in more than 120 nations. Shorewood Packaging has three plants in Ontario, Canada, and is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium packaging. The company could identify machines that were ahead or behind in productivity through key performance measurements, but these numbers weren’t relevant to machine operators. Management needed to find a way to provide relevant information to operators and give them the ability to set efficiency goals on a per-job basis.

In an attempt to increase efficiency, Shorewood Packaging first looked for a device to identify machine status via light emitting device (LED) display marquees connected to their equipment. They implemented four test devices to see if lean manufacturing results would be possible. The company implemented a software solution by Shoplogix, with which the employees became engaged. This solution offered real-time cost and job variances on the LED display boards to help operators and management visualize and graphically understand where they were versus where they needed to be in the production process. Shorewood evaluated other solutions based on these criteria and assessed typical server-based data-collection systems. The Shoplogix software enabled a direct connection to existing production equipment and allowed the company to capture real-time machine-productivity information, quantifying improved performance and contributing directly to the bottom line.

Real-time shop floor data = lean measurement methodology
Shorewood Packaging selected the only tool with an intelligent, embedded application that integrates with existing production equipment on the plant floor, giving manufacturers the ability to perform multiple activities such as data capture and measurement, performance analysis, machine alerts, and reporting on a machine-by-machine, job-by-job, plant-by-plant or multiplant basis. The lean measurement tool has proven effective in improving overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), predictive and preventive maintenance, and quality initiatives across all industries.

Without real-time data reporting on the efficiency of the machines, companies are relegated to subjective, plant-floor reporting after each shift.

Performance metrics are critical to lean effectiveness
Shorewood Packaging realized it could acquire data to help operators evaluate key performance metrics such as run time and make-ready time to improve efficiency. Shortly after the initial experiment, they implemented the application on all machines in the plant. The company translated key performance metrics into dollars to help machine operators understand the effect they could have on the profit or loss of any given job. Now, employees access information on estimated make-ready time, job run time and quantity to run. They compare these job estimates to dynamically updated performance information on their machine and shift.

Neil Pierobon, engineering maintenance manager, noted “Tying our performance metrics to the bottom line has increased systematic thinking on the shop floor, sponsored a culture of continuous improvement, empowered our employees and fully engaged them in their work.”

Shorewood Packaging’s significant results from this project are as follows:

  • Costs per productive hour are 5 percent below budget
  • The facility is performing 3.5 times better than expectations year-to-date.

Shorewood Packaging now provides shop employees with information that relates their performance to the profit or loss on any given project. Machine operators also receive information that details estimated make-ready time and job run time, and that specifies the quantity of product to be produced. Armed with this information and the real-time performance information that the software feeds to the marquees at the machine, operators are finding ways to improve their efficiency. The net result is improved efficiency and reduced costs elimination of waste, all central lean manufacturing objectives.

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About The Author

Thomas R. Cutler’s picture

Thomas R. Cutler

Thomas R. Cutler is the President and CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler Inc., celebrating its 21st year. Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 8000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. Cutler authors more than 1,000 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. More than 4,500 industry leaders follow Cutler on Twitter daily at @ThomasRCutler. Contact Cutler at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com.