White Paper – Lean Series – by Productivity.Inc
Process Innovation in Action
How R.H. Sheppard used 3P to discover a new way to manufacture.
Productivity, Inc. and the R.H. Sheppard 3P Team
In 2012, R.H. Sheppard, a manufacturer of power steering systems and related engineered products, faced a key business decision on capital investment for one of its parts manufacturing lines that needed updating. The traditional choice would be to clone the current process and invest heavily in new equipment to replace the old.
That option would certainly modernize the line and improve productivity.
But another alternative emerged: take a calculated risk on innovating instead, and aim to create a radically new process with far greater potential to affect Sheppard’s top line, bottom line, and competitive position. Under the impetus of Oliver Hoar, now president, the company decided to seize a golden opportunity, charter their first 3P team, and charge it with discovering a «new way.»
3P (Production Preparation Process) is a method originated by Chihiro Nakao in which employee teams conceptualize, develop, validate, and deploy radical improvement in product and process design. In just 16 weeks, a cross-functional team of operators, a production manager, and several maintenance and engineering staff followed a facilitated 3P process from initial training through final recommendations to upper management.
Their solution will allow the company to manufacture with zero changeovers across seven different part families. The benefits to the company are significant, ranging from radically shorter lead times, to substantially increased capacity and reduced scrap, to anew manufacturing flexibility that makes it easy to accommodate future product design changes.
In a nutshell, they’ll have a new platform for competition.
Here’s how they did it.