The following is a preview from the October 2019 issue of The Scoop, the quarterly printed magazine for Dal-Tile team members. The issue will be mailed to team members’ home addresses and posted in PDF format to myMohawk next month.
There’s nothing simple about cleaning a glaze line.
The line has to be completely stopped for several hours while it’s manually cleaned. But thanks to a new process improvement, the team at the Dal-Tile Florence, Ala., manufacturing plant is reducing downtime, lessening the amount of manual labor involved, reducing quality defects and increasing the glaze line’s efficiency.
“Before this improvement, each time there needed to be a glaze color change or the glaze would build up on the line, operators would need to completely stop the line to clean everything,” Florence Process Manager Bob Fikri said. “With team members also manually mixing formulas and glazes (among other job functions), the cleaning process was very labor-intensive. Halting the line disrupted the production process and increased the potential for quality defects.”
Fikri said that along with cleaning the line itself, the inkjet system that provides the color to the glazes also has to be cleaned in order to remove buildup and ensure accurate color is being used for each product.
Putting a new schedule and process in place
To help reduce the amount of time the line has to be stopped, the team developed a new automated process that schedules the inkjet cleaning systems automatically, cleaning the lines without having to stop the machines. Operators are also trained on programming both the glaze line and the inkjet system, reducing the required manual labor so that one line can be worked by a single operator.
“The automation timing can be tricky, as the team runs different sizes on each line and sometimes various sizes on the same line,” Fikri said. “However, this new automated process now allows us to program the various cycles, product sizes and changes into the system to accommodate for every specific product.”
This improvement was successful thanks to the combined work of Florence’s glaze line team members and the Research and Development team to perfect the process.
“While developing this new process may sound simple, it took the combined effort of a multidisciplinary team of people and a year of development and testing to make sure that this process was successful and worked seamlessly,” Florence Human Resources Manager Guadalupe Bustillos said. “But the new process improvement is now up and running, and we’ve already seen the benefits of these enhancements.
“It’s awesome to see how this has been able to improve productivity, reduce quality defects, cut downtime and decrease our water usage.”
Florence team members Daniele Vellani, Shawn Cunningham, Eva Wix, Albert Goodloe, Bob Fikri, Mathew McIntyre, Rene Gonzalez and Dewayne Wear collaborated on implementing improvements to the way the glaze line was cleaned at the plant.
Eva Wix works on the color change process on the glaze line at the Florence manufacturing plant.