C&T implement Lean Manufacturing to mitigate inflationary pressure on customers

Simon Shenton, Managing Director at C&T Matrix explores ways to improve efficiency as costs continue to rise across the sector.

He says, “Inflation has had a significant impact on all our everyday business – from material costs, energy increases, fuel costs to manufacturing costs, we’ve all felt the effects of the recent growth in prices.  C&T is aware of this pressure that die makers and converters are facing and is invested in implementing and exploring new ways to keep cost increases either away from customers, or reduced wherever possible. One of the things C&T is implementing in response to inflation are the principles of Lean Manufacturing.

“The five principles are value, the value stream, flow, pull and perfection. C&T is focussing primarily on the flow principle, with the biggest area of change being the layout of the factory. There have been great improvements made to the flow of the factory by reconfiguring the shop layout, moving machines and people to reduce the non-value activity – this includes things such as changing elements around and even monitoring and adjusting walking times from machine to machine, for example.

“To help to mitigate the increasing cost of manufacturing, we are working particularly hard on reducing machine downtime by accelerating changeovers on machines from one product to another. We have introduced 6S, a system that aims to promote and sustain a high level of productivity and safety, across all sections of the factory. We have retrained ‘setters’, whose job it is to ensure that tools and raw materials are ready and assist the machine operators in change over between product profiles. Having dedicated people to set up machines has reduced the time taken to set up from 45 to 15 mins, providing an increase in production efficiency.

“We have also introduced a new routing technology which has enabled us to reduce the amount of PVC scrap produced in the factory. Specifically, the routing technology allows us to reduce the trim produced in PVC manufacturing. Not only does this have an economic advantage, but also an environmental one. In addition, we are now fully recycling all the EVA scrap that we produce internally. EVA scrap is put back into our manufacturing process and reused.

“In addition to changes on the shop floor, we have implemented a new ERP system across the whole C&T Group. This went live in June in the UK and July in the US, with our other sites in Italy, China and India to follow. The ERP system has improved communication across the group, and has resulted in much improved visibility, giving real time key information such as sales, financials, inventory and manufacturing. Good software is at the heart of any modern and efficient operation and this new system will enable us to make more informed decisions as a business.”

He concludes, “As a company, C&T is constantly adapting and evolving, keeping manufacturing efficiency paramount in our everyday activity. For example, since putting these improvements into place, we have seen an increase in our daily output. Lean Manufacturing is helping C&T to improve our practices and increase efficiency which has a knock-on effect for our customers in terms or stock holding, product range availability and critically keeping abreast of any cost rises so we do not have to pass unavoidable expense onto our customers.”

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