Wednesday, October 16, 2002

5,000 Apple Pies--Day One of Production

Yesterday, we had the first of two days of pie production. A few observations, before I head over for day two.

1. The Lean System we set up used half the space that the previous assembly line/batch/queue system used. The last several years, it used the entire gym floor. Now, we made just as many pies and nothing extended past half court.

2. Anectodally, our productivity was probably 1.5 to 2.0 times what it was last year. I don't know for sure, as it relied on some of the "veterens" remembering about how many pies we made with about how many people. We had lower turnout this year of volunteers, but still hit our numbers for the first day.

3. The three, identical, U-shaped cells worked great. The visual cues seemed to be obvious for the volunteers.

4. Having three cells let us ramp up and ramp down production according to the number of people we had at any moment.

5. Clean up was a LOT simpler. Far less mess than before.

6. Single piece flow was better but not perfect. What we did find, though, was that by confining the space and limiting the WIP, we simply did not have the space to build up too much inventory.

7. Possibilities for improvement are endless. My mind whirs.....

The Stats of Day One: 2,020 pies in just a little over 8 actual work hours. That's a cycle time of just over 14 seconds. I was shooting for 13, which would allow us to get 5,000 done in two 9 hour shifts. A freezer truck breakdown caused us to quit early last night (yes, we filled one entire semi trailer with apple pies). If we can keep the pace, we'll get done well today.

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