Problem Solving Article: A 5S KAIZEN RESULTS IN NEW PRODUCT SOURCE
Turning manufacturing scrap and waste into a salable product.
Fourth Article in a Series of Problem Solving Articles in an Industrial Setting
One of the lean manufacturing situations I looked for at the olive cannery where I worked was any opportunity to keep product off the floor and out of the waste water system. One day I passed under the olive slicer platform and noticed large piles of olive bits
With 5S Kaizen warning bells sounding, I checked with the area clean-up person about why the bits were there in such large piles of manufacturing scrap. The clean-up person told me that the piles were normally washed into the waste water floor drains before the piles of manufacturing scrap got that large.
The high pressure water hose for the area had broken and it took awhile for a replacement to be located and fitted into place. Normally the area was kept clean and no large piles would have been evident.
The cannery had four high speed olive slicers for canning. The slicer blades were round, serrated and very sharp. They were just like little buzz saws. A set number were spaced apart on a square holder that was then fitted onto an electric motor driven shaft.
The olives were fed into the machine through a device that separated the olives into small holders and then pushed the olives into and through the spinning blades. Just as a buzz saw leaves wood chips, the olive slicing blades left olive chips. The piles on the floor were these olive chips.
Several of our large customers used olive chips on their products. To fill their orders, we had to take cooked olive slices and run them through the slicers again to make the chips. Again we washed away the piles of chips on the floor beneath the slicers.
I saw an opportunity. Collect the chips before they hit the floor and became waste and the chips could be used to fill the orders for chips. Also, a person would not have to flush the chips into the waste water system and we would not have to pay the County to dispose of it for us.
I brought the lead mechanic over to the site and explained what I wanted. We planned out where the collection plates would be placed to catch the chips and how they would carry the chips into a holding tank.
Water was used extensively at the cannery to move the olives in pipes through a pump and in flumes. We would be able to flume the collected chips into one tank and then pump the chips to a larger, heated holding tank.
The cannery processed a large amount of olives into slices. If this idea worked out, we would have more than enough chips and bits to fill the orders of our current customers.
The lead mechanic was a wizard with stainless steel welding and fabrication. His education had not included formal training in layout and welding, but he could visualize a project layout in his head and then fabicate it.
On more complex jobs, he would cut out the various pieces from cardbord and use the cardboard as a pattern for the steel. He would put the pieces of cardboard together with tape to make certain his visualization was correct before cutting the steel.
Once he had the various pieces cut and fabricated as far as possible he mounted them in place. The pieces would need to be able to be cleaned and removed when necessary.
The next day, we had the slicers running to produce more sliced product. With very little adjustment, primarily of water spray, the new system worked better than had been anticipated.
More than enough bits and chips had been saved for our canning needs. Our production manager just kept the line running and canning the chips until the slicers were stopped.
The Plant Manager and our Vice President were informed of the serendipity of having more chips canned at very low cost. This fact allowed our sales teams to acquire more customer orders for the bits and chips.
The act of keeping our plant more clean had led to savings from a reduction of waste material in the waste water, more efficiency and productivity, and increased sales at a very low cost in product.
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Author: Larry Bush
Profile: Electrician in industrial, construction, marine, and food industries for 47 years, with 22 of those years in management.