The Eickhoff Group is a medium-sized network of companies, which operates in the foundry, mining engineering, drive technology and plant construction sectors. Corporate headquarters and the main factory with a total area measuring 100,000 square meters are in Bochum. The group generated sales of approximately EUR 310 million with about 1,600 employees around the globe in 2010. Eickhoff Giesserei GmbH has been producing cast iron parts for individual and small production runs for 150 years. A three-day course entitled “MTM and Value Stream” was held as a company learning course as part of the T.ELIAS Project (Transfer Engineering for Skill-Building Industrial Work Systems) in December 2010. The project is based on the wage agreement for qualifications in the metal and electrical industry in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is being sponsored as part of the “further training” initiative by the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the European Social Fund (ESF).
The aim of the initiative is to strengthen companies’ ability to adapt and compete and increase the employability of members of staff. To do this, the course communicates skills and abilities for all-round planning, assessing and optimizing value streams and the associated production and logistics processes.
The Eickhoff foundry produces as many as 1,300 t of cast iron parts in individual and small production runs every month. The extensive range of materials includes more than 60 different casting alloys. The heaviest product weighs 12,000 kg. The main customers – apart from the associated Eickhoff drive technology and Eickhoff mining engineering companies – are general mechanical engineering and pump construction firms and companies in the hydraulic sector. It makes sense to use the value stream method here in order to create an outstanding communications platform to achieve a common understanding of the current state and the desired target state by visualizing the production sequences.
A special combination
The special feature of the “MTM and Value Stream” course is the combination of principles covering:
• MTM methods
• value stream analysis and design, and
• lean management methods and tools to design work flows with little waste and efficient work methods.
Actively finding the best possible solution
The people playing the “Light factory” management game were actively involved in this to produce a compact flash light with several options. The main focus was on reducing throughput times and stocks based on the best work method using perfectly designed work stations. They started with production planning and management in line with the push principle, where the participants carried out the real production as workers and logistics experts. The starting situation was as follows:
• Production takes place “for the warehouse”
• High stock levels
• Poor use of space
• Slow selling items
• High transportation needs.
The following goals were agreed:
• To increase production volumes with the same human resources
• Ensure that production meets customer needs
• Reduce stocks
• Have less capital tied up
• Reduce production and warehouse space.
After an introduction to the principles of MTM process building blocks, particularly MTM-UAS and MTMN logistics data, instruction was provided on major lean principles.
Kaizen with its basic tools, supply and management concepts like just in time, pull and Kanban management were discussed, as was efficient set-up work. The participants then worked hard on the principles of value stream analysis and value stream design before the eagerly awaited management game could start.
After analyzing the current processes and determining the relevant key data,
• the operations were restructured by improving the assembly line cycle times
• the logistics were optimized
• the design of the work stations was improved
• the work methods were improved
• the push system was changed to a practical pull system.
The visualization of the value stream and a critical analysis took place in each round of the game before the participants could present the best possible solution at the end.
Ralf Funke, Managing Director of Eickhoff Giesserei GmbH, had this to say about the successful course: “We discovered a large number of things during the project, which not only seemed helpful to us, but we also introduced them. The issue of MTM was a deliberate major focus so that Mr. Wachholz is not a lone ranger as the project manager, but the other master craftsmen can say: ‘Great – I’m going to get involved too!’ and that worked very well!”
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