by Mike Spencer, Louisville, KY

During project to upgrade process on Machine’s 135 and 136, The Louisville Team, finds a way to incorporate gains in Safety, Continuous Improvement, Waste Reduction, and Cost Savings.

A “Win-Win” for all 

As a Continuous Improvement effort, the Louisville Team set about to improve current loose tea bag collection process on Machines 135 and 136.  The efforts of Lowell Tryon (Electronics Technician) and Paul Osborne (Machinist) led to this positive outcome.

Not only did this project result in meeting Quality requirements, it also increased safety, decreased waste, and found “Cost Savings” along the way.  Cost Savings were realized with improved “Safety” (decreased amount of times Operators bending, turning, and reaching) and decreased waste (bags falling out of box and onto floor), but also with using “repurposed” obsolete equipment further cost savings found.

Current Process: rubber pad on floor, cardboard box to catch bags sits on pad (not food safe – and reason project started). Loose bags travel down conveyor and slide down into box, as they slide a pyramid is formed and some bags fall to the floor (waste and lost opportunity). Operator must bend, reach, and shake box so bags will fall into box and not onto floor as they accumulate coming off conveyor.

New Process: Elevated Platforms were constructed to replace rubber pads and so cardboard box and products are elevated off of the floor (food safe!). As bags slide down into box, the elevated platform shakes and assists in spreading bags in box.

This is where our Teams ingenuity and creativity really started: During platform build, Team came up with way to add “Vibrating Equipment” that would act as a shaker thus reducing amount of times the Operator would have to reach down and shake box so bags would fall intop and not around box. This added piece of equipment would shake box allowing Operator to perform other tasks (Quality audits, sanitation, etc.).

Now for the good part: Equipment used was “repurposed” from obsolete equipment thus gaining cost savings (or cost avoidance). Added feature includes vibrator activation when Machine cycles. 

 Pictures below illustrating improvements and great job Team performed: