Shrinking Total Waste to Become Kaizen Giants

(The following is a preview from the upcoming issue of The Scoop, the quarterly printed magazine for Dal-Tile and Unilin team members. The issue will be mailed to Dal-Tile and Unilin team members’ home addresses and will posted in PDF format to myMohawk in July.) 

In Japanese, the word “kaizen” means good change, and for the Muskogee, Okla. Manufacturing plant team, good change means delivering a major reduction in green scrap caused by issues with gloss and shade — and earning a major productivity award for their achievement. 

Using kaizen work processes, a group of team members from across the site worked together over the course of nine days to identify areas for improvement and develop a plan to cut down on waste. By installing mixers to the stainless steel tanks, adding timers to the dispersers, changing the Ball Mill glaze method and several other process tweaks, the team found its solution.

In 2014, 34 percent of the site’s total waste was green scrap material, due to gloss and shade. Because of their project, the team helped shrink it to 17 percent.

“I’ve been in five different facilities and I’ve seen a lot of great teams develop through kaizen,” said Muskogee Plant Manager Dave Lippert. “What I saw with this project was remarkable. It’s amazing how this cross-functional team was able to get together and flush out waste in our process.”

As a result of their dedicated work and commitment to significant process improvement, the team won the annual Dal-Tile Kaizen Acceleration Award for top project of the year. All of Dal-Tile’s U.S. manufacturing plants were invited to participate and present their projects to a panel of judges.

“Unlike earlier years, the judging decision was impacted by the deliberations of the judges after the presentations,” said Dal-Tile Director of Process Excellence Jesse Hamilton. “These conversations were very helpful in determining this year’s winner, requiring the judges to dig deep into the projects and argue hard for their favorite.”

Honorable mentions for this year’s Kaizen Acceleration Award went to the El Paso plant team and the Fayette plant team, who had its best showing in three years (and was most improved over last year).

In May, the Muskogee team presented their project to Dal-Tile senior leadership, toured the Sunnyvale (Clay Rd.) plant and enjoyed a special team dinner to celebrate their award.

MSK KAA 2015 600 bright cropped

Muskogee team members Barry Crites, Robert Perry, Octavio Suarez,Brent Paige, Ernie Sebree, Lippert and Betty Chavez accepted the Kaizen Acceleration Award traveling trophy from Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Operations Dave Baran (second from right) in Dallas.

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