Customized Lean Training and Application – An Excellent Step Toward Reaching Goals
AGT Foods USA
AGT Foods and Ingredients is one of the largest suppliers of value-added pulses, staple foods and food ingredients in the world. The company buy lentils, peas, beans, and chickpeas from farmers around its 40+ facilities and ships its products to over 120 countries around the globe where pulses account for the major source of protein consumed. The Minot facility is AGT’s first large-scale pulse ingredient and fractionation facility producing and selling products made from varieties of lentils, garbanzo beans, and peas. In 2020 the Minot facility started producing Veggipasta, a pasta made from 100 percent dry peas. The pasta has the taste and texture of traditional pasta and offers the benefits of being non-GMO, vegan and gluten-free.
The Minot, North Dakota facility produces flours, proteins, starches, and fibers derived from pulses for use in food ingredients and branded feed products including pet food and aquaculture.
The vast majority of company’s maintenance parts are stored in 18 shipping containers. Due to lack of organization and standards, staff (maintenance and special project personnel) spend excessive time searching for parts to see if they are in inventory. Also at times the lack of organization discouraged the staff to check if the parts were available and instead ordered parts which may have been available in the trailers. This led to excessive cost due to wasted staff time searching for parts as well as unnecessary purchase of parts which were already in stock. As an initial step to address the spare parts inventory and organization, the company asked Impact Dakota to develop and deliver training materials to select employees. In addition, Impact Dakota was asked to mentor the training participants by conducting projects that can help with eliminate and or alleviate the current spare parts inventory problems.
Using the input provided by the company’s management, Impact Dakota developed and delivered customized training using the materials from the Lean Enterprise Certification Program. Heavy emphasis was put on Workplace Organization (5s), Total Productive Maintenance, and Standardized Work. As part of the training the participants were asked to identify improvement projects using C4 cards. At the completion of the training the participants shared with each other the projects they had identified in their C4 cards and provided constructive feedback. During a period of three months the training participants were involved in various activities improving different processes. During this time, the Impact Dakota staff maintained contact with training and projects’ participants and made a number of on-site visits to discuss the progress made. At the end of the three months the participants made a presentation to company management. Included were the problem statements, root causes, countermeasures, recommendations, and economic analysis. One such improvement project was spare parts and inventory organization and documentation.
- Time Savings and Productivity (Workforce and Facility) - Workers’ time saved as a result of improved placement and locating of spare parts needed for repairs. Quickly identifying and retrieving of spare parts also has helped with improved equipment and/or facility uptime and productivity.
- Improved Spare Parts Inventory Tracking - The improvements in storing and locating of spare parts has also helped with reducing the purchasing of parts that are available but formerly could not be found.
- Cost Savings (one time and recurring) - Recurring annual savings is estimated to be in the range of $52,000 resulting from improved spare parts placement and retrieval (1,300 hours of annual staff’s time saving @$40/hour). Another cost saving is a one-time potential cost avoidance of $20,000 not needing to purchase repair items that company has available but were misplaced and/or could not be found.
- Culture - One of the challenges of any productivity improvement efforts is sustaining the changes. The employees are now following the new standards for placement and retrieval of inventory and better maintaining of workspaces. Even staff not familiar/comfortable with computer usage are willing to request that the inventory list be checked for a desired part.
“We have done Lean Training for all of our management team. It was well received and understood. Many principles are applied on a daily basis. We have a long ways to go but this was an excellent step toward our goals.”
— Les Knudson, U.S. Operations Manager