Suttle: A High Variety and Low Volume Production Challenge

The challenge of transitioning to a production environment that has short production runs with a high degree of product customization is one of the more difficult tasks facing many manufacturing companies.

The Challenge

Suttle is a manufacturing and service-based organization that specialized is equipment for the telecom industry. The company faced a shift in demand for their product offerings. For decades the success of the company was producing low cost parts with long manufacturing runs. The new marketplace demands an engineering intensive, customized, and high cost parts.

The shift in the marketplace forced the manufacturing to adjust to the new demands of customers. This caused several issues in the manufacturing floor.

Specifically, the challenges were

  • High levels of inventory
  • Poor performance related to on-time delivery
  • Poor quality of parts
  • Poor productivity on the shop floor
  • A company culture that struggled with the transition.

"Partnering with Olson Institute has allowed us to reduce a significant amount of waste in our system and has realized a tremendous savings for the organization."

- LSS Deployment Champion

Conference Room

The Solution

The solutions implemented for Suttle involved a comprehensive collaborative approach to transform their operations floor.

Initially, Olson Institute worked with the management team to create simple dashboards that could validate current company performance and show signs of improvement as solutions were implemented. The dashboards provide the company a simple and consistent approach to the data.

To set the stage comprehensive customized training on six sigma and lean techniques were developed and delivered. Olson institute delivered a customized Lean Six Sigma green belt to many of the key employees in the production facility. In addition, every employee was given lean fundamental training to begin the process of establishing a culture of continuous improvement.

Lean focused projects were implemented throughout the production facility. Initially the projects focused on the obvious wastes in the system such as excess movement and hygiene of the facility. As the wastes were removed, key manufacturing indicators of cycle-time and delivery began to improve. Subsequent projects began to focus on visual management systems and quality improvement.

The impact to the production floor was substantial. The production system is now better equipped to handle the challenges of a high variety and low volume manufacturing.

The results

  • A redesigned production floor to support a high mix environment.
  • A stunning visual transformation of the production floor
  • A significant amount of waste taken out of the production environment
  • Inventories reduced
  • Most importantly a culture that is now focused on continuous improvement