Longveld is a world-class manufacturer of primary food processing machinery, systems and equipment, and an expert in custom metal fabrication. Their business starts with sheet metal and through multiple processes the team transform it into custom and complex solutions to meet their customer’s needs.

While the fabrication shops had capacity, they were frustrated by the lack of parts being available, sometimes the quantity was wrong, sometimes the parts went missing, however all the time there was pressure on the water jet cutting team to deliver.

The objective of this improvement project was to improve the efficiency and flow of materials from the cutting processes to unleash the potential of the wider business.

Our Solution

The process started with a value stream map, this identified a significant number of opportunities in the waterjet cutting process:

  • Change overs had blown out from under 20 minutes to up to 3 hours in some cases.
  • Asset up time was around 50%
  • Parts were being lost into the water bath, the team only knew when they came to the next process
  • Operators were stressed and being constantly interrupted and asked to cut urgent work

LMAC facilitated a FIT (Focussed Improvement Team) project to solve this problem. The operators were involved in a kick off session where the team outlined what was required for a successful change over.

The work space was setup to help make it visible when materials were missing, or pallets for the cut product were not ready, helping the operators easily identify what they were missing to be successful. The team was structured so that each member had clear roles and responsibilities i.e. one person was on the forklift not all three.

Finally the team agreed a process to lock in the plan 48 hours in advance, to allow the information and materials to be made ready ahead of time. A process was developed to highlight when quality or quantity issues occurred allowing them to be managed and communicated to the next operation removing noise from the organisation and increasing visibility.

Key Outcomes

Within 4 weeks of starting the FIT project change overs were averaging below 15 minutes, operators were less frustrated and stressed and the weekly plan was being completed without overtime or cutting being outsourced.

  • Change overs are now under 20 minutes and can be tracked.
  • Asset up time is now around 75-85%
  • All missing or miscut parts are scheduled for recutting the next day
  • Operators are engaged and are implementing their own ideas and solutions to keep improving!

After months of work and relocating the process to further improve flow, the team are still meeting their KPI’s around changeover time and while demand ebbs and flows, the business is no longer “waiting on the waterjet”. The improved recover rate form this process with worth approximately $150k per annum.

Working with LMAC has provided us with valuable expert knowledge to guide a relatively young and inexperienced team through much-needed change. The result is a huge upswing in performance and team work and drop in angst and stress, which in turn has lifted morale. Also importantly this success has brought fun back to the workplace for this department and it’s infectious.