Case Studies

The case histories below are authentic consultations performed by Leadership Initiatives’ CEO, Steve Reissig. Privacy is protected from the general public.  All data may be confirmed if so desired and confidentiality is approved.

Metal Building Fabricator

Challenge

A Midwest metal building fabricator was struggling with customer complaints due to missed shipments, late shipments and poor response time. Trucks were leaving the plant with parts missing or damaged parts. Part orders would be started in the shop, and by the second or third station, pieces were lost or missing. So workers would remake the parts again, only to find them a day or two after the remake. Workers were living in a confusing work environment and safety issues were always present. Customers were frustrated and charging the company for part delays due to idle workers.

Solution

After a two week fact finding mission we uncovered a strong need for in-plant order tracking, problem solving skills, maintenance scheduling help and safety programs to be put into place. We started problem solving skills training and designed a lean workflow of parts. A staging area was built for orders so when parts were completed, they were placed in the staging area so they would not get lost. A 5-S system was put into place so workers had clear walking areas and organized tool storage. Orders were tracked from the beginning and placed on a board as parts went from one station to another. We did an analysis with maintenance to determine which machines had critical repair issues, put preventive actions and repairs in place, and had contingent parts ordered in case of a major machine problem.

 

Result

As a result of the initiatives put into place, after 3 months scrap was reduced from 11.7% to 9.9%, remakes dropped from over 200 per month to less than 3, on time delivery went from 27% to over 86%. Workers reported a much less stressful environment, and safety issues were less than 1 per month. Finding the cause of machine problems to the root cause eliminated downtime and reliance was increased by 23%. The equipment parts crib was emptied and only parts that could not be quickly and locally obtained were ordered and readied for action. At the end of the initiative, the company was moving two shear presses to the plant due to its ability to keep critical parts for its other 8 plants.

 

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Nuclear Plant Review

Challenge

A nuclear plant in the upper Midwest was asked by the nuclear regulatory commission why a problem they said they fixed had returned. Their report showed a problem solving process was used, so why did the problem need a second repair? What was missing from their process that allowed them to miss the root problem? After talking with several members of the maintenance crew, the problem solving process they used only fixed the problem at hand, and did not include follow-up questions to dig deeper into the underlying root cause.

Solution

We went to the nuclear plant and talked to the plant maintenance manager to gain an understanding of the process they used, and what the report said. Once we understood the actions maintenance personnel usually performed, we proceeded to facilitate two problem solving classes aimed at asking follow up questions, 5-why analysis, and think beyond the original fix that we teach in our training. We also worked with staff members to make sure follow up questions were asked on the maintenance reports so root cause could be identified.

Result

With a clear understanding of the full problem solving process, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission passed the process that was now being used due to the follow up questions that were asked at the conclusion of each maintenance report.

 

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Detroit Big Three Auto Company

Challenge

In the early 2000s, a Detroit big three auto company found itself struggling to find a common way to solve problems and make decisions. Excellent engineers all came from different backgrounds, different schooling and different problem solving disciplines. The issue that eluded the automaker was to find a rational was to get to a root cause, that was quick, useable and fact based. Not just trying to solve a problem with a list of assumptions or no credible information.

Solution

We met with company officials and shared the rational processes that were used to bring Apollo 13 back to earth. We did analysis of how engineers were currently doing problem solving and made a set of steps that delivered fact based solution. These steps are now known as the DAMIC process which is also known as the Six Sigma process. We put 20 engineers through the processes, one step at a time, and then had follow up meetings with each individual engineer as they worked through the processes. Their mission was to present to upper management the process they used to get to the final solution.

Result

The company managers liked the processes and the results that were attained.  Train the trainer classes were developed, they established plant champions, and then taught the processes to others within their plants. The processes are now a part of their on-boarding skill building so engineers and plant workers are following the same processes.

 

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ND Food company

Challenge

A large producer of food products was experiencing huge losses and the problem was continually getting worse. The executive board was talking about either closing or selling the plant. The plant was well over 100 years old, and many of its processes and equipment had a lot of miles on them.  The management team that was in place continually announced that the numbers would only rise if many of the old machines was replaced.

Solution

After a two week fact finding mission was concluded, a number of issues were presented. The issues were broken down into areas and those areas were problem solved separately. Data gave us numbers of the most important problems needing resolution. We ran a handful of quick “learn and do” types of training so workers understood how to find the cause of a problem, make a decision for its correction and make a small plan for its implementation. We also ran an analysis of each piece of equipment deciding if it needed major repair, or should be replaced. Finally, we ran a management performance analysis with all of the plant management to understand what issues they were dealing with. From this analysis, manager evaluations and performance expectations and consequences were placed for all management.

Result

Within 3 months, the pendulum swung the other way, and within 6 months the plant was in the black for the first time in years. The plants quality and runtime were outstanding and the amount of food re-inspection was on its way down. As the project finished, one of the largest restaurant chains in the world presented this plant an award declaring that all of the other plants of this type should follow the example of this plant with both production and quality.

 

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Oil Company

Challenge

A large oil producer in Houston, Texas was struggling to come to a viable solution regarding whether they should build a new oil refinery or build a pipeline and pump the crude oil to an existing refinery. The challenge before them was how to lay out all the information they had, see what information and data was missing, and then somehow make a rational decision.

Solution

We went to the oil producer and started to help them sort out just what they had already gathered into useable data. We then previewed the decision making process to 20 people so they understood just how the steps would work. Finally, we worked step by step through the process, capturing all the data and possible problems along the way.

Result

After 2 days of gathering missing information and working through the process, the team came to a decision, pending two pieces if information they could not get clear information on at the moment. They were shown where to place the final pieces, and were able to come to a rational decision that could presented in a simplistic manner. Due to the data driven process, all the critical risk presented and the ease in which the information was laid out, the executive board approved their decision in one meeting. (Side note – that company asked for several training classes so their staff members could learn the process for continued results in other areas.)