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Cost Reduction: Synthetic Fibres

Labour efficiency increased by >30% across multiple departments in 12 months, saving millions of euros per year

Industry 

Industrial Products - Synthetic Fibres

Project Length

12 months - 4 consultants leading 12 different improvement teams

Objective

Reduce costs in the order of millions of euros to return company to profitability

Results

  • Labour efficiency increases of 30-40% across multiple departments
  • 20% more output on bottlenecked product group
  • Major sources of waste reduced by up to 90%
  • Delivery times reduced 41%
"We would never been able to make these improvements without Fault Tree Modelling (Chartwell's best-in-class problem-solving technique)" - Spinning Production Leader

These improvements formed a solid basis for driving the turn-around of the business

Why did this fibre manufacturer join forces with Chartwell?

This German synthetic fibre manufacturer was under very high cost pressure; to return to profit, manufacturing costs needed to be reduced by several million euros per year.  To achieve this goal, substantial productivity improvements needed to be made across all factory departments, so Chartwell were brought on board to accelerate the work of the local team in delivering those savings.

The second largest cost in yarn manufacturing is labour and initial analysis showed there was scope to improve labour efficiencies by 25-40% across most departments.

Key Workstreams

Better Planning and Workload Management
 
  • Managing spinning labour usage was a complex operation, requiring 4 shifts to cover 5 floors and 18 different working areas. Shift leaders had little visibility on who was doing what and when.
  • One of the key activities in spinning is to change over a wound spool to a new, empty one once the target weight has been reached. Spool changeovers account for 50-60 % of productive labour overall
  • With over 200 winders and winding times varying between 4 and 28 hours, the inability to predict spool-end times meant the department was operated on a ‘watchman’ basis - each area was constantly staffed, leading to long idle periods interspersed by frenzied activity
  • The team brought clarity to the shop floor staff and shift leaders by building a real time tool that predicted where and when spools would finish
  • This meant major improvements could be made to labour efficiency by having a smaller, flexible team with a smoother workload

Process Optimisation to Reduce Workload

  • During a spool change, operators would wait for an automated system to change over full spools to empty spools before they could start new spools running
  • Detailed analysis of every step of the automated cycle revealed there was a long waiting time between the machine being in a position to slide new spools into place, and actually doing so
  • When the waiting time was challenged, the team initially encountered resistance. Due to the high speeds and perceived complexity of the system, most people had their own beliefs on why this waiting time might be necessary
  • Systematic investigation of the control system, using Chartwell’s Fault Tree Modelling approach for complex technical problems, traced the waiting time back to an incorrectly placed valve
  • Removing the valve combined with other improvements to the cycle reduced spool change time by 35%