Healthy Pet’s Lean Culture Keeps Them Ahead of the Competition
Located in Ferndale, Washington, Healthy Pet® is part of the J. Rettenmaier & Söhne Group (JRS), a family owned global leader in natural fiber processing for use in pet care, life sciences and a broad range of technical applications. JRS’ pet care offerings include the successful CAT’S BEST® and CHIPSI brands, as well as a variety of other litter and bedding products. The company supplies products to customers from over 25 facilities worldwide.
The client’s initial contact with Impact Washington occurred in 2017, after an employee attended a Toyota Kata event then recommended it to Healthy Pet®’s management. As a smaller company, Healthy Pet® didn’t have experience in Lean training concepts, specifically in Lean modules, so the company reached out to Impact Washington to learn more about the concept and what programs were available.
Healthy Pet® recognized that they required an improved processing system that would help them learn to work smarter versus harder in order to support their continuous growth and improvement in manufacturing operations. They acknowledged the importance of directly training their employees in the foundation of Lean concepts to provide them with the core competency that would enable them to execute initiatives using the Lean tools and put the discipline to work themselves. As one of the top suppliers of their product, Healthy Pet®’s goal was to ultimately reduce costs to stay competitive.
The formal engagement between Healthy Pet® and Impact Washington kicked off in 2018 with Lean 101 training, which provided employees with the foundational steps. Impact Washington then conducted a Value Stream Mapping assessment to better understand and identify areas of improvement in the company’s operational production processes. This study paid specific attention to flow of processes to ascertain where eliminating waste and process bottlenecks would occur, and helped determine the steps needed to satisfy customer needs and identify pain points.
A series of subsequent Kaizen events focused on streamlining the layout of the warehouse floor to create a more accessible working environment for employees ensuring everything is where they need it when they need it. To reduce labor time and costs, a software program called Tableau was engaged to assist in production scheduling. By taking data from the main system, this program was able to assume scheduling responsibilities to better meet customer demand and free up the plant manager’s time. Lastly, Healthy Pet® employees were educated on the 5S program — basic housekeeping to help them understand the discipline around why they are doing things in a particular way and why they need to use the tools properly to maintain and sustain growth. This training was shared out with all employees from corporate level to warehouse floor employees.
- Increased number of jobs by 10 positions.
- The introduction of the Tableau software program resulted in a decrease in lead time for the Supply Chain Department and improvements in the Sales/Operations planning tool, reducing a 12-step process down to two, and decreasing the susceptibility of errors that otherwise could go undetected when inputting data by hand.
- Throughput improvements of 15.44%.
- Plant Managers saved four hours per day by not having to calculate this information by hand and the Production Planner saved eight hours per run summary. Tableau was able to assume these processes with only two steps. As a result, customer shortages were reduced by 15%.
- Employees now work more efficiently, resulting in increased morale. Not only did the Kaizen events teach them how to make their jobs easier and more fluid, they were also empowered and now realize the benefits of working as a team. This training broke down the walls between the shop floor and the corporate office, leaving all invested in continuously learning and improving processes.
- The training was so impactful, Healthy Pet® has already had another kickoff meeting with Impact Washington to address administrative processes and the opportunity to improve customer ordering processes, which will begin in late 2019. Kaizen training for a new automation layout focusing on safety and flow will kick off in 2020.
“Healthy Pet® partnered with Impact Washington in November of 2017 and it has been a fruitful journey that continues to support our company and employees. Our company is growing and we realized the need for assistance in training our workforce and adopting a lean culture with proper skills. Impact Washington was the right partner to ‘lean into’ to help us in our continuous improvement journey. They provided us the knowledge and resources to implement Lean tools into our company and aided in the training of our employees to have the knowledge to sustain the tools. The training environment is excellent because our employees are learning and take pride in their accomplishments as they improve their work processes. They work hard in the Kaizen events, have fun, and build teamwork!”
Pam Moser, Head of West Coast Manufacturing at Healthy Pet®