Wilbert Plastics produces custom injection molding and heavy gauge thermoforming components and assemblies in seven (7) manufacturing plants in the U.S.
They serve several industries including automotive, consumer goods, medical, industrial, sports and recreational products.
The Challenge: Growing Production Management Challenges
Five years ago, Wilbert Plastics had seven (7) different manufacturing operating systems and was 1-1/2 years into an implementation of an ERP that did not provide them real-time insights into shop floor operations. Their management team believed they needed different results from their enterprise software to drive timely decision making. They wanted to avoid postmortem reporting on production, scrap and quality to establish standardized work, inputs and outputs.
They were growing both organically and by acquisition so the complexity of product quality and production management, was at risk of becoming overwhelming. The number of Bills of Material (BOMs) was more than doubling in a few years to over 50,000.
The Approach: Introduce Production Information Centers with IQMS RealTime™ Production Monitoring
So, the leaders developed a vision for Production Information Centers (PICs) in each plant which would become the operational and cultural hub of each facility’s team. These leaders were also wise in realizing that they needed to incorporate culture change in the future state. Their managers and team members all would need to see value in the daily use of real-time metrics and analysis provided in these PICs to feel engaged.
Wilbert Plastics executives also hoped that the appropriate solution would enable common terminology and metrics for their employees in each plant and across all plants to have quick, timely planning and decision making discussions. These ad hoc meetings would minimize time being wasted in meeting “later” or the next day to review performance.
So, they built the open three-sided Production Information Centers out on the production floor with five (5) monitors setup to display key status and performance information: material (inventory), job setup schedule, IQMS RealTime™ Production Monitoring, as well as financial and performance metrics such as OEE.
As they set out to find technology to enable this vision, they discovered IQMS RealTime™ Production Monitoring with robust options to connect to older and newer equipment on their plant floors. The ability to single-source hardware, software, application engineering, training and implementation as a comprehensive enterprise system was very appealing.
Wilbert Plastics wanted “edge” connection to their presses, RealTime™ servers to automatically gather and process the meaningful information, RealTime™ Charting, tool management, maintenance all natively integrated to a comprehensive manufacturing ERP with lightning-fast scheduling, MRP, quality systems, and warehouse and shipping management to provide a comprehensive view of their operations. For the long term health of the company, the difficult decision was made to stop the work with the previous ERP software and engage with IQMS Manufacturing ERP and Production Monitoring.
As the configuration, setup and implementation of the technology was underway, the Wilbert team embarked on extensive production skills cross-training program in addition to software training. They also focused on business and production process optimization using lean techniques to prepare for efficient implementation of the new IQMS system and bolster a culture of continuous improvement. They identified key process gateways where they need to measure material consumption and inventory should be updated.
The Results: Improved Efficiency, Safety, Quality and Cost
As a result, Wilbert Plastics vision, thorough planning, and thoughtful change management have paid big dividends – efficiency, safety, quality and cost have improved steadily.
A very positive benefit to the health of their operations is that a new team culture has developed where team member bonding during daily discussions in the PICs has built camaraderie. Trust in the real-time data and each other has flourished. This in turn has driven an operating culture characterized by “let’s decide now” using actionable data, in the moment.
As the teams have the mindset of “don’t wait, let’s decide now”, they no longer feel they have time to routinely wait while they call an expert to appear to weigh in on an issue. This reinforces the need for skills cross-training to assure enough expertise present to leverage the real-time information being provided in the PICs and on smart tablets around the floor. With requests from employees and the company’s commitment to help team members grow, Wilbert Plastics has provided over 25,000 hours of training for associates in the last few years.
This combination of leadership vision, commitment to process improvement, and investment in technology to inform well-trained employees has enabled a positive Plan, Do, Check, ACT (PDCA) cycle that is now baked into their corporate DNA. As a result, Wilbert Plastics is growing as a smart, modern, exemplary supplier partner to their customers.