Our client is a global manufacturing leader operating in the agribusiness space dedicated to bringing fresh foods to America’s dinner tables. For this engagement, the POWERS team focused on one of their facilities that provides fertilizer to commercial landscapers and agricultural growers. Located in one of the country’s largest production centers for fruits and vegetables, this facility has been operating for decades producing high-quality fertilizer for professionals in agriculture, the turf trade, nurseries, the feed business, and industrial use.
Despite a long-ranging history of success, our client entered each of the last three busy Spring seasons behind due to poor production throughput and equipment reliability issues. Starting their busiest time of year behind led to struggling to keep up with seasonal customer demand and to meet customer orders on time.
Many last-minute events cascaded each year into poor production and scheduling decisions, leaving them scrambling at the last minute. There were frequent abrupt schedule changes because customer orders due to be picked up had yet to be produced. This led to emergency schedule breaks to fulfill customer orders, sometimes with trucks waiting.
Constant and last-minute schedule changes lead to confusion among employees and supervision (what are we supposed to make because word of the last-minute change may not have been communicated to all employees), inefficient production runs incurred due to short/small production quantities (only making minimum amounts because that is what was shipping “today” rather than running the total amount needed for the week/month because they needed to make the following product “shipping today”) and increased downtime due to inefficiencies and multiple changeovers per shift.
In addition, our team uncovered that:
- Management needed visibility into what was and was not happening in the department (good or bad).
- The department is unique to the rest of the division, so adopting processes from other areas or plants was not viable.
- Employees, supervisors, and managers had become numb to underperformance. There was no urgency when a line was down.
- Accurate reporting was absent in the department. Therefore, quantifying the many situational challenges to drive improvements proved challenging.