Welded end seal.
Stainless steel sheath
Magnesium oxide packing.
Ceramic element support.
Teflon insulated leads
This article tells how Kaizen Events (Blitz) successfully improved workflow,
productivity and quality for a manufacturer of industrial heaters.
Pele Products (not the firm's real name) manufactures a wide
variety of electric heaters. These heaters go into dishwashers, hot tubs and many consumer and
industrial appliances or equipment.
Resistance Ribbon Wire.
Mica Element Support.
Rust Resistant Steel Sheath.
Two of the many different types of heater are shown. Each type of heater has many variations
in voltage and wattage as well as in dimensions and physical features. There are tens of
thousands of possible permutations. Because of the almost infinite variety, most heaters are
made to order.
The plant was originally arranged in a functional
layout which required each order to travel to several departments. Normal lead time was
about 60 days and even expedited orders required 15 days. Scheduling was very complex
and generally considered ineffective.
The blitz approach was used to implement six workcells.
Strip & Cartridge Heater Workcells
The product and process complexity required considerable analysis and preparation in advance
of the actual blitz. The products were grouped into families with similar characteristics and
enough volume to justify a workcell. Two of these families were the product groups shown above.
A separate cell prepared ceramic cores and wound them for the other cells that used these
The Kaizen Event
The actual detail design and rearrangement was done in several sessions. Each session
required about one week. Maintenance personnel worked late shifts to rearrange
equipment. Production was at normal volume within two days.
The most important result was lead time reduction. An
average order now requires 5-10 days and expedited orders require three days. This is a great
convenience to Pele's customers and an important competitive advantage for Pele.
In addition, inventory dropped significantly, the factory was more orderly, quality improved
and productivity increased.