Ellis LEAN Initiative Takes Customer Satisfaction to a New Level

shutterstock_143212498While Ellis is already known for superior quality and customer approval, we never stop looking for ways to provide ever-higher standards of service. The Ellis LEAN Initiative was developed to do exactly that.

There are a lot of names for it (Six Sigma, LEAN or Kaizen among others) but the process is essentially the same: create a consistent process that provides customers with a higher quality machine and deliver it faster.

So, what exactly does the Initiative do for our customers? It all boils down to this simple formula: a consistent process = consistent results = consistent quality.

Following this formula, we will continue to deliver a higher quality product on time while providing reduced lead times from order to installation. Faster turnaround during assembly will allow us to expand our product line with other machines requested by our customers.

IMG_1315To make sure that our consistent processes are also the best possible processes, we consulted with our most experienced workers so that their ideas could be incorporated into updated procedures. The ideas were combined and written into a checklist to provide accountability. If something goes wrong during the build, the checklist makes it easy to see what and why. Communication boards in each cell keep the workers informed of the machine’s progress.

With the procedures in place, the next step, which is already underway for the Washer/Extractor assembly line, is to re-arrange the building process to reduce movement. The new arrangement helps to minimize manufacturing time and eliminate possible errors that can occur when a machine is moved.

We have created three stages (or cells) for machine assembly instead of building each machine piecemeal as one unit. The new cell assembly system reduces movement of the product around the floor and the movement of workers around the product.

IMG_1318The proper parts and fasteners for each stage of the build were moved to bins in each cell. Workers no longer have to go to the stock room to draw parts, and can spend more time working on the machine. With the parts in the cell, piece shortages are quickly spotted and addressed before parts runs out.

Using the checklist as a guide, quality controls set up in each cell highlight problems that need to be addressed before the machine moves on to the next cell. This means that mistakes are found earlier in the process and de-bugging is limited to the work done in one cell, not the entire process.

Not only will our workers be cross trained among cells, but as the process extends to other lines, they will also be cross trained among machines. This training and expertise will provide flexibility to allow for periods of high volume, vacations and illness. Assembly will continue to move without delay in every foreseeable situation.

We have the best team in the industry. By giving them a superior process, they will continue to give our customers a superior product, on time, every time.

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