CASE STUDY: NZ Aerosports
NZ Aerosports has been established since 1994 and is a world-leading manufacturer of sport and commercial parachutes for skydiving. We export our products to all corners of the world with our main markets in the USA and Europe. The company started out in a small garage in Grey Lynn, Auckland with just a handful of people, it has since grown to have a staff of around 40 people. We have been growing organically over the years and are facing ever-evolving challenges that we have to overcome in order to succeed.
Intent Group & NZ Aerosports started working together on the Better By Lean Programme with Callaghan in July 2021. After initial Process Mapping identified areas of improvement, the programme was put on hold due to the August 2021 Lockdown.
The programme started again in October 2021. Intent & NZ Aerosports worked online while
the factory operated under level 3 conditions to address their most consistent issues of:
Too much work in progress (WIP)
Working on stages not due yet
Experiments in October resulted in a 5% increase in throughput from July to October,
with fewer labour hours while also working across split shift, by testing out:
Sections of one piece flow
Reprioritised work loads for different stages
With some learnings from the October experiments, a snapshot of work in progress was taken in early November, before the following changes were made;
Quality check procedure were adjusted to eliminate a large build up of waiting WIP, which had been identified as a major bottleneck
After proof of its efficacy in October, a one piece flow pull system was established to stop a minor part from delaying final assembly
From mid-December a T1 meeting was started, and 2 days later a Visual Management based Work Allocation System was added to show where work needed to be completed to keep finished parachutes moving towards being complete, while keeping the bottleneck fed
After a day using the Work Allocation System, Robbie from Quality said “It’s been really helpful to see where we’re up to throughout the day, we know how we’re going and can make a plan together for the next few hours…. It’s great to be able to see visually when we’ve done a good job”
By the Christmas shut-down, Work in Progress (WIP) had decreased by 38% from 6 weeks prior.
“With the Better by Lean program, we are working to develop better work processes and procedures, better workflow and reduction in waste within the company.”
Chris Snell, Production Lead/R&D, NZ Aerosports