New Zealand Team takes Innovative Approach to Re-melt Problem


ASSA ABLOY New Zealand is the country’s leading manufacturer and supplier of door and window hardware. In July 2010, one of the company’s manufacturing cells was reporting a zinc re-melt rate that was far too high. Essentially, 18.5 percent of zinc processed was being scrapped. Teams in various manufacturing areas attempted to address the problem individually, but a sustainable solution could not be found.

A cross-functional team was formed to identify and minimize the issues that were causing the excessive remelt, as well as to provide sustainable solutions for the future. The team consisted of members of the affected cell, as well as die-casting and powder-coating experts and tool makers.

The team adopted the Deming Cycle, which consists of four steps: Plan-Do-Check-Act. Once the guidelines and the objectives were set, the team started collecting data and was able to determine the main causes of the problem – such as contamination and machine and tooling issues. Using an Ishikawa diagram, all possible causes were discussed. This was then followed by a Why-Why Analysis, which resulted in a list of action points. As these actions were performed, improvements began to materialize.

The team took the project as an opportunity to introduce Lean Improvement Sheets. These improvement sheets are based on the Deming Cycle adopted by the team to address the re-melt issue, and once completed are shared with other manufacturing cells. The idea is to highlight the benefits from a change before implementing it.

Although the re-melt project finished some time ago, the company continues to benefit from it.

The cross-functional teams have now rolled out into other cells experiencing similar issues. It is now up to these people to pass on what they have learned and continue to follow best practice. Getting things right the first time is the ideal scenario and although we are not quite there yet, it’s good to know we are heading down the right track.

Written by Saurabh Srivastava