P18725: L3 Team FEPSI

Preliminary Detailed Design

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Preliminary Detailed Design Phase

Redefined Customer Requirements

Following the System Design Review, the team asked L3 for feedback on the three part system design. The three parts of the presented system were: Standard Defined Flow, Continuous Improvement Program, and KPI/Metric Tracking. Based on all of the elements of the three parts, the team asked L3 to determine which items they wanted the team to focus on and to rank them in priority order. The following list of elements were provided in order of most to least important:

  1. Kaizen/Suggestion Box Program
  2. Standard Work and Standard Kits
  3. VLM Implementation
  4. Signal System
  5. Scanner System

The team used this list as a guide for how to proceed in the system design. The next section provides an update on the design of each of the elements specified by the L3 team.

System Elements

Kaizen/Suggestion Program

Suggestion Box and Kaizen Program Flow Diagram

Suggestion Box and Kaizen Program Flow Diagram

The employee satisfaction survey has been updated from the version presented in phase two. This new version covers the same areas of interest as the original, using fewer questions. Striving for a short survey is a priority, to avoid it being viewed as a burden. Surveys are a very important way for L3 to effectively collect information from all employees. The goal is to increase understanding of the daily hardships individuals face that would otherwise go unnoticed outside that department. The survey will also help to ensure that all parties are satisfied with processes or improvements. The main improvement to this revision of the survey is the question “If this was your company, what would you change?” This allows for a ‘the sky's the limit’ type of suggestion to be included in the survey. Good suggestions may be withheld if concerns about scope, cost or feasibility are considered.

Updated Monthly Survey

Updated Monthly Survey

Standard Work

Standard work is a very important strategy to eliminate the effects of human variability on a process or product. A standard work template was designed in the previous phase and tested during this phase. During this phase, at least one standard work document was created for each of the following departments: kitting, purchasing, scheduling, receiving.

The process used to create standard work documents does not begin until the standard work creator is familiar with the department. To create standard work, the current process needs to be observed several times and carefully documented. It is also important to perform a time study and choose a unit of time that makes sense for the process. Once detailed data is collected for the process, step by step instructions are compiled into a standard work document. The standard work template our team chose for L3 includes photos, layouts and detailed information about how the entire task is performed. Anyone with proper training should be able to use the standard work document without any outside knowledge. If this is not the case, further revisions are required.

For L3 the level of detail used for the standard work documents is dependent on the department. Kitting and receiving standard work can incorporate very detailed instructions, since the processes are somewhat regular. However, since purchasing has processes that include a lot of variation, the standard work documents for purchasing address a higher level of instruction. These differences have been addressed and will continue to be considered as standard work is implemented and revised.

Standard Cart Setup

In the current state, there are two carts set up for each L3 part number/subassembly that needs to be built on the floor. Since the carts are large, holding this many preset up carts takes up a lot of room on the floor. However, it is necessary to have preset up carts because setting up carts from scratch takes a lot of time. In order to resolve this, our team came up with an idea to have standardized carts that could be used for more that one L3 part number. This would eliminate the need to set up a new cart from scratch each time a kit needs to be made and does not take up as much space on the floor since there are fewer carts.

To do this, our team will study the L3 Material Pick Lists to group picks lists with similar numbers of parts to share the same standard cart. In the current state, each of the bins on the carts are labeled with the specific part number the bin contains. This type of permanent labeling prevents versatility in the cart setup; however some form of labeling is necessary so that the operators on the floor can distinguish the parts while they are building. Our solution is to use a velcro label system. Each bin on the cart would have velcro on the front and each L3 part number to be built will have a set of part number labels. Thus as the material handler builds the cart, he or she can label each bin with the corresponding part number as they go. Since multiple L3 part numbers will be sharing the same standard cart, there will inevitably be bins use for some the L3 parts and not others. In the case that there are bins on the cart that are supposed to be empty, there will be red velcro cards placed on the bins in lieu of the part number card. This way it will be clear to the operators that those bins are supposed to be empty rather than being concerned that a part is missing from the cart. One concern voiced by the material handlers was that some parts (like bucks and petals) have specific bins with foam cut outs that they need to be stored in on the cart which would make it difficult to use one cart for more than one L3 part number. We propose for these carts that the part specific bins are held on trays that are the same size as the shelf on the cart. This way when those parts are needed for a pull, the material handlers can easily grab the necessary tray and slide it onto the cart.

VLM Implementation

Critical aspects for a successful Vertical Lift Module implementation are listed below.

  1. Efficient Space Allocation
  2. Quick Picking
  3. Easy Picking
  4. Accurate Picking

In order for this to be accomplished a clear and defined plan must be created by a concrete team and followed. And in order for this plan to be created a clear understanding of the VLM software and functionality of the machine must be made.

Feedback from L-3 Technologies has shown that efficiency of space utilization within the VLM and the VLM trays will be the top priority to focus on. With this priority in mind, we have developed a plan to accomplish this task.

Specifically, each tray of the VLM should me meticulously planned in order to balance between space allocation and the other critical aspects listed above. Parts will be placed in close proximity to others that are used in same component builds and sub-assemblies to decrease pick time. Similarly, trays which hold specific sub-assemblies to a larger system will be place in close proximity to each other in order to decrease time between picks from trays. This will result in single tray pulls for an entire sub-assembly pick which will greatly reduce picking time. Similarly, close tray allocation will result in minimized waiting time for the VLM to get the next tray.

Signal System

This single flow design for the signal system allows for a concrete and definitive point of information for all involved.

The process starts with a visual signal at kitting when inventory is running low. When this signal occurs, the material handler take the signal card and places in the Kitting Signal Card post. Each morning, purchasing will come to the Kitting Signal Card post and pick up all of the cards from the previous day. At purchasing, the cards will be categorized the cards based on inventory/card type and part owner.

There are three categories of inventory type: reorder now, hold until new order comes in (inventory still on the shelf), hold until new order comes in (no inventory on the shelf). The first category is self explanatory: as soon as the card reaches kitting, the part will be reorder. This will be for parts that are used very often and are not very expensive to purchase. The second and third categories are similar in that the parts are not automatically reordered, rather they are on hold until a new customer order comes in requiring that part to be ordered. However, they differ in that for the second category of parts, there is still inventory on the shelf when the signal occurs. This category is for parts that aren't used as often as parts in the first category but are inexpensive so it is fine to hold some inventory on the shelf. However, for the third category of parts the signal does not occur in kitting until there is no inventory left on the shelves. This category would be used for parts that are not used very often and are expensive to purchase.

Once a part has been purchased, the order date and expected due date will be filled out on the signal card and the card will be placed in the Purchasing Signal Card post. At then beginning of each day, Receiving will collect all of the card from the previous day out of the post and store them in their signal card box (organized by part number). Cards will stay in the box until they are received in at which point the card will stay with the part through receiving, inspection/test, to put away at which point the cycle will restart. This way, if someone wants to know if a part has come in yet, rather than interrupting the receiving process, they can look through the box of signal cards at receiving to find out.

Signal System Flow

Signal System Flow

This signal card is designed for clear and concise information to flow through the manufacturing plant and between departments. The colored border designates type of inventory based on the three categories of parts discussed earlier. Required information is present for all people/groups which will handle this card, including an area for dynamic information such as order date and due date to be updated and communicated easily by departments, through the card.

Sample Signal Card

Sample Signal Card

Scanner System

The team would like to integrate hand-held scanner systems that can be used by the operators in their new standard work. This not only replaces the manual data entry, which eliminates potential for inevitable human error, but it also allows productivity to increase in the receiving and kitting areas.

Point-of-use inventory transactions will eliminate several process steps for receiving, which include conveyance muda from the working table to the desk, computer sign on, opening Agility, and processing the inventory move transaction in the system. We also discovered that it is common for the operators in receiving to “batch” the move transactions, meaning that they will open a grouping of boxes, check the contents of all the boxes, and then do all the inventory transactions in groups at the desk. This “batching” is a good step towards increasing efficiency, when compared to single-piece flow processing, but altogether can be replaced by the more efficient, reliable, and accurate point-of-use hand held scanners.

The benefits of the scanner system in the kitting area are similar in detail, aiming to eliminate the large amount of inventory move transactions that need to happen within the process of kitting parts together to get prepped for any shop-floor order. Similar to receiving, kitting operators tend to “batch” process these Agility transactions after a kit has been either completed, or near-complete with some parts still needed. Point-of-use move transactions will save a great deal of time for the operators and should be a quick and efficient replacement which will process inventory transactions each time a kitter removes any number of parts from their specified stock location.

Metric Tracking

Using input from Josh, the initial metrics that will be tracked at Receiving and Kitting have been selected. They are:

The metrics for Cost and Time are still a work in progress. Knowing these metrics, a more solidified sample Process Control Board was created. The intention would be for a daily meeting to occur at the board to review each metric and surface any issues that need to be resolved.

PCB Design

PCB Design

Feasibility Analysis

Kaizen/Suggestion Program

In order to sustain success with the suggestion program, it is important to designate an owner for the kaizen program, who has been determined to be the current lead for Continuous Improvement, Steve Partridge. Meetings with Eric (VP of Operations), Sue (Production Supervisor), and Chris have already happened to designate them as representatives for their areas at the monthly kaizen review meetings, where the categorization, schedule, and event plans will be approved by all representatives. In summary, the Continuous Improvement lead (Steve) will meet with area representatives on a “pull” basis to discuss, categorize, and then review with the whole team monthly. The monthly review is meant to serve as a checks and balance type of review, allowing all members to contribute and suggest priority changes to the schedule and even how events can be improved. The approved event prioritization and schedule will be defined, documented, and published by the area leads, to show employees what is upcoming and to also gather volunteers for the events. The team has already met with area leads to get a better understanding of the culture and re-iterate the importance and business benefit of the Program.

The survey portion of the Continuous Improvement Program has been re-designed in this phase to be more concise and direct in getting honest opinions from operators, and has also been shortened so that it is faster to complete. Sit-down meetings have been conducted with receiving to have discussions about their written responses to the survey as well as re-iterate the purpose of the survey. The team plans to meet with kitting to get similar feedback. The operators seemed to agree that this monthly requirement should ensure feedback from all employees, and can support the Program, should the suggestion forms prove to be underutilized. This helped the team gain employee buy-in, which should reinforce their ongoing feedback via the survey.

Standard Work

The standard work documents created by the team have been reviewed many times by the operators who work in each department. This was done to ensure that the contents of the standard work documents are both accurate and effective in explaining the process steps. Each time a standard work document was reviewed, we took notes on the suggestions noted by L3 employees and made the necessary revisions to the documents. Additionally, to ensure continued feedback about the standard work documents, a question about the accuracy of standard work documents was included on the monthly employee satisfaction survey. This will ensure that if issues arise with standard work documents, the right people will be notified so that necessary changes can be made. Finally, a revision control process has been outlined to ensure that the standard work documents will stay up to date and accurate. The process is as follows:

Standard Kit Setup

The solutions outlined above have been discussed thoroughly with the material handlers, who are the direct user of the new system. The pick lists will be provided by L3 in order for the team to develop the commonizing layout of bins, to ensure that the current bins used for the standard cart setups will suffice for the new system as well, eliminating any need for company spending on new bins. Regarding the tray system, where operators can easily add trays for fragile parts that require foam cut-outs, we need to further develop and solidify the design of that system and what items the company can use or purchase to realize it. The team is looking into several different options, including using a small number of the carts that are eliminated by use of this system, utilizing racking that the VLM will free up space from, or selecting and purchasing some other form of storage for the standard trays.

Scanner System

Moving forward, the team needs to meet with IT and learn more about the feasibility of the technical processing of the scanners, talk about how the data will be integrated, and research the current scanners that are in house (but not in use) and also research the physical use of the scanners that L3 has been looking into purchasing. There are two specific scanner system products that are FIPS-140 compliant, per requirements of the client’s network security policies.

Metric Tracking

To maintain the success of metric tracking, a metric owner will be selected for each department. This person will be responsible for identifying a metric to be tracked for each of the five metric categories (quality, safety, human development, cost, and time). In addition to identifying metrics to track, a method of collecting the data will also be identified. It will be important for the data to be easy to acquire as it will be used daily to update the PCBs. Additionally, it will be important for the PCB design to be simple and easy to use so that the huddle meetings and metric tracking will be sustained over time. We recommend that the PCB design is reviewed after 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year of implementation to ensure that the format is reflecting the wants and needs of L3 employees. Finally, so that the employees can see the benefit of metric tracking and having daily huddles, it will be imperative for the department huddle leads to bring necessary information to the manager huddle meetings. Through this problem escalation method, the right people will be hearing where issues are occurring and what is needed to resolve them leading to real changes the employees will be able to see and appreciate.

VLM Implementation

For the feasibility of the Vertical Lift Module and understanding of the System must be concrete. The software partnered with the VLM must be known and understood for clear manipulation of the machine. Further, knowledge of the actual machine must be made, either from working with the modula company or by studying the manual and other documentation to avoid machine failure or poor device management.

A clear, hashed out plan is critical to the feasibility of the VLM implementation. This will allow for a minimized amount of time dedicated to the initial setup of the VLM. Further this will allow the earliest test of the current sorting/categorization of the inventory within the VLM.

Additionally, a need for the knowledge of the software must be made prior to the arrival/installation of the LVM. This knowledge will, similarly to the above aspect, reduce the amount of time it will take for the VLM to be “up and running”. This knowledge will also increase the likelihood of proper machine maintenance and better picking of the inventory. This will reduce the time it takes for pickers to pick and will reduce the likelihood of any additional inventory redesigns with regards to the components sorted in the tray system of the VLM.

Signal System

With the signal system, steps must be made to ensure its operation with L3 Technologies. In order to ensure its continued operation and optimization of the inventory clear and defined roles must be made with regard to how he signal cards flow through the plant, Each department should have a defined start and stop point were actions will start and stop.

Specifically, kitting must know that it is not their job to sort the cards by categories, and should leave that to purchasing. Similarly receiving should leave the retrieval of purchased inventory cards to purchasing. These defined roles will make sure departments know what there responsibility is and actions will be assigned to the people most appropriate for the task.

Risk Assessment

The following risk table outlines the risk that the team identified during this phase. Risks in black are risks that were identified in the previous phase but are still applicable to the project and risks in blue are risks that are new to this phase.
Phase 3 Risk Table

Phase 3 Risk Table

Feedback Items

Our team has come up with the following list of questions we would appreciate responses for from the L3 team following the review of this edge page:

Plans for Next Phase

Plan for Phase 4

Plan for Phase 4

Leigh Bechet's individual plan for phase 4 can be found here

Chris Lieb's individual plan for phase 4 can be found here

Brandon Hickey's individual plan for phase 4 can be found here

Jess Strickland's individual plan for phase 4 can be found here

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