It’s the never-ending battle of operations. On the surface the battle to control or reduce costs seems to be at odds with the desire to improve quality and effectiveness.
Operational leaders realize that this does not have to be the case. This apparent opposition of aims is what leads to the creation of approaches like Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing; as well as a variety of investments in automation.
And while we’re fans of these approaches (we, ourselves, practice Lean) the challenge is that they all require significant investments of capital and inflict disruption on your organization. After years of reducing the workforce and addressing short-term cost issues, there’s a belief that all of the “low hanging fruit” has been grabbed.
Yet, like so many flawed beliefs, some of the lowest hanging fruit that both reduces your costs and improves quality is created by variations in temperature at the point of application. What’s more, controlling it is relatively simple, entails no disruption to your operation, and the investment is typically paid off within six to nine months.
Don’t believe us? Consider some of these case studies. In addition to the quality improvements and material savings achieved at Flex-n-Gate, they even saw a reduction in labor, saving the company money while making its process far more consistent.
Or examine A Tale of Two Coil Coaters, in which Steelscape achieved a 60% reduction in solvent additions, leading to “significant cost savings” over the previous year. Paint defects, like solvent pop, were reduced by 75% over previous levels, as well, thanks to not adding excessive solvents in order to regulate paint viscosity.
If you think those results are impressive, consider just how well the changes stuck! In our blog post reviewing the Tale of Two Coil Coaters example, you’ll see that over 95% of the solvent-related defects were reduced in the five years since the temperature control system was implemented. Steelscape went on to win the EPA National Partnership Environmental Award, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds of naphthalene in the intervening years.
All the while, Steelscape reduced their cost structure, reducing top coat consumption, solvent additions, solvent-based defects, LELs, and film thickness variations.
In order to increase quality, do you need to increase costs? No. You simply need to focus on the right resources.