Lean Practices Increase Employee Engagement at Sierra Nevada Corporation

 

lean workshop
lean workshop

The Lean 101 training provided by NVIE helped SNC change its mindset on production. Training has already dramatically reduced rework and waste, lowered residual inventory and helped drive design changes as a result of taking quick action on the line when problems are found.
-Jay Lawson, Director of Operations, SNC

 

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is a leader in providing engineering answers to the world’s toughest challenges by delivering end-to-end advanced technology solutions in space, aviation and systems integration. SNC employs 3000 people in 34 plants with
corporate headquarters in Sparks, NV.

Rethinking your workflow can lead to significant gains

One SNC division in Sparks, NV produces Ruggedized Handheld Computers (RHC) for military personnel. As they continue to ramp up production of the RHC units, improvements in material flow, operator takt times, part presentation and part quality were needed to meet customer demand. Components were batched at each assembly table and the throughput was not being optimized. Also, quality issues were aggravated by large quantities of components being produced at each cell. Component failures and design issues were often ignored for weeks or months due to all-out effort to build as many units as possible to yield enough good units to make shipments.

Educating all employees involved in the production of the RHC units was determined to the best way to get full engagement of the employees. We decided to have everyone participate in the Lean 101 workshop with live simulation. With input from the entire
production group, lean initiatives could quickly be tried and implemented if successful. A cross section of employees from line workers, supervisors, material planning and program management were engaged. This served to not only be a lesson in lean manufacturing, but also turned into a team building exercise.

Lean simulations help increase productivity

After training, teams were challenged with coming up with ideas for existing problems. The input from everyone was mixed with facility and tooling improvements. The result was the elimination of large amounts of non-conforming product, daily resolution of any issues found on the line, and improved quality and delivery. In a 6 month period, SNC reduced rework from 50 units per day to less than 5 per day, a 90% reduction! Additionally, total product flow was reduced 58% from 577 feet to 243 feet.