Here at Packaging Compliance Labs we are consistently looking for opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste while still focusing on quality to better serve and add value to our customers. To accomplish this, PCL uses Lean methodology to identify opportunities in the process of workflow, plan how the current process can be improved, execute and implement changes, and set metrics to review how the changes are working for our team and our customers.
In order to identify opportunities, PCL has created a Value Stream Map which is used to define and optimize the various steps involved in getting a project or study from start to finish. One example of said step identified by our team is the wasted time measured from when samples are received to our lab to the time the project or study is launched, or queue time. This time is used to confirm sample sizes, the appropriate technique or methodology for the study, and clear up any questions to ensure the project or study is completed thoroughly and correctly. While this step is necessary and unavoidable, it may not directly add value to the customer.
Once queue time had been identified as an opportunity to improve on, a plan is created to optimize value and reduce waste to achieve PCL’s goal to keep queue times under 24 hours. With this goal in mind, the plan was to create a tool used to connect the line of communication from our customer to our sales team and finally to our engineers and technicians.
The tool which was implemented to execute this plan is a document that identifies all the items identified that are necessary to the queue time of a given study. The document is reviewed by all parties involved including the customer, sales team, and engineering group and is approved before the samples for a project or study is received at PCL’s facility. This gives our engineers and technicians a clear understanding of the samples received, technique or method for the given study and clear up and questions before they arise.
The final step in Lean methodology is to review how the changes are working by using repeatable and relevant metrics. In our example of queue time, PCL records the date and time in which samples are received and records the date and time in which a project or study is launched. These are recorded for each study and are compared to PCL’s goal of under 24 hours. The ability to improve on queue time has had a downstream effect of the total time of a project or study and thus increases the speed of our customers’ ability to bring a product or device to market!