Collaboration in Small Packaging Metals Leads to Success

Michelle MachenMauser News, Small Packaging

Collaboration between facilities and corporate groups is creating more efficient operations and improved results for Small Packaging Metals, specifically related to the F-style can lines in Garland, Texas and Memphis, Tenn. After a challenging 2021, the metals business unit started the new year with positive results for January. From equipment moves and more centralized planning to hiring and equipping the right people, the turnaround for the metals group demonstrates the benefits of working together.

Currently, F-style gallon cans are produced on three lines – one line in Garland and two lines in Memphis – with Memphis also supplying components for cans produced in Garland. Infrastructure investments in both facilities play a role in the production improvements for both facilities. In Memphis, a large project is underway to improve line six which will improve the throughput of the line. As well as improvements to specific parts of the process, additional conveyers will allow the rest of the line to operate if there is a stoppage at one location in the process.

While collaboration between facility maintenance, engineering teams, and corporate engineering is critical to successfully implementing these significant equipment upgrades and changes, local ownership of machines is important to properly operate and maintain production lines. In Garland, an effort is being made to train additional maintainers who can conduct routine maintenance, make minor fixes, or assist with more involved maintenance tasks when needed. By providing this cross-training to new and existing employees who show interest and aptitude for equipment maintenance, we are ensuring the knowledge of our existing workforce is passed on to the next generation and employees are provided with the opportunity to take the next step in their career. In Memphis, short touch base meetings are held with facility maintenance teams and corporate engineering multiple times a week. These meetings allow everyone to stay informed of current projects and issues while enabling local teams to take ownership of regular maintenance and routine repairs. An open line of communication between the engineering group and the facility facilitates the sharing of best practices and allows for all facilities to benefit from lessons learned or process improvements at individual locations.

"We are optimistic that we are putting the right people in the right roles to build the right culture in the Metals division."
Navin Karwande, Small Packaging Metals Vice President
In addition to infrastructure upgrades in the metals business unit, improvements to scheduling and planning have been implemented through collaboration with the Small Packaging SIOP (Sales, Inventory, Operations and Planning) team. Historically, production scheduling has been dictated by current customer demand and handled at a facility level. By taking a more wholistic approach to planning, production of product types can be consolidated to specific lines and sequenced to reduce changeovers. This increases operational time for production lines and manpower can be reallocated to other value add tasks. Specifically for the F-style gallon can lines, the SIOP team is leading tactical planning meetings to leverage available capacity at all facilities and schedule production to increases efficiency across the organization. Eventually, facilities will be able to use the processes developed with the SIOP team to manage week to week scheduling decisions but the SIOP team will continue to provide a central oversight to ensure the optimization of capacity at each facility is maintained. The SIOP team is also working with Small Packaging Metals facilities to improve inventory management by providing recommendations for classifying items based on historical patterns and managing safety stock of product and components.
The collaboration between facilities and corporate groups as well as changes in leadership are resulting in significant improvements at the Memphis facility. Assembly units per service hour increased by 24% and press units per service hour increase by 13% year to date compared to 2021. Additionally, backlog has been reduced by over 80%. This year the facility has improved total open customer complaints by 50% from January to February and reduced late complaints by 100% in the same time frame. “We are really proud of the results we are seeing in Memphis and the credit goes directly to our people. We are focused on engaging with our people, recognizing the positive impacts individuals and teams are making, and empowering our supervisors to take corrective actions when needed. In addition to production improvements, we are laser focused on improving the safety of our facility so our employees go home safely every day,” commented Dale Bandi, Memphis Plant Manager.
"We are really proud of the results we are seeing in Memphis and the credit goes directly to our people."
Dale Bandi, Memphis Plant Manager

Significant infrastructure upgrades and improved processes are a wasted effort unless facilities have the right people and the right culture in place to execute daily operations. The Garland facility has a relatively small staff with low turnover and a lot of experience. The stability of the workforce in Garland is reflected in the consistency of results and provides a cultural example for other facilities. In Memphis, a new culture of employee ownership through EIP projects and emphasis on safety sets the foundation for growth and success moving forward. “We are optimistic that we are putting the right people in the right roles to build the right culture in the Metals division,” commented Navin Karwande, Small Packaging Metals Vice President.