2M Precision Automation – Eliminating Operational Wastes to Improve Productivity
Established in 2002, 2M inspired to be the complete system integrator and precision machining turnkey provider regionally. The team approach every case with innovation, dedication and integrity in order to achieve total customer satisfaction. They pledged to do their utmost to understand and fulfill their customer needs with prompt, reliable and efficient services at competitive costing.
Potential Business Opportunities
When 2M Precision Automation Pte Ltd – a local manufacturer of precision engineering equipment – realised that it was losing new contract opportunities, it turned to the Singapore Innovation & Productivity Institute (SiPi) for help.
2M Precision Automation faced issues such as a non-conducive work environment, poor use of equipment, tools and raw materials, and a lack of discipline among production staff. “This was the heart of the problem. It was resulting in a loss of customers and high wastage,” says Mr Jordy Teo, the company’s General Manager.
“Early this year, representatives from two US multinational companies visited our production plant to discuss potential business opportunities,” he recounts. “After touring the factory, they conveyed that we had to make further improvements to meet their requirements.” It was then that the company realised it needed a productivity solution to achieve operational excellence.
Tapping on SPRING Singapore’s Innovation & Capability Voucher, 2M Precision Automation worked with a productivity consultant from SiPi to identify areas of the business that could be improved. Following SiPi’s advice, the company embarked on the 5S (sort, set in order, shine, standardise and sustain) programme in June this year to reduce wastage and optimise productivity.
As one of Singapore’s three Productivity Centres, SiPi helps SMEs, especially those in the manufacturing, engineering and logistics industries, improve their production and operational processes. This includes identifying opportunities and areas of improvement to boost productivity.
Identifying Productivity Gaps
Mr Chang Phuan Heng, a Lead Consultant at SiPi, was appointed to help 2M Precision Automation effectively implement the 5S programme, which includes training, mentoring and consulting.
One of the first things he noticed during his initial visit to 2M Precision Automation was the lack of hygiene and safety consciousness.
“The work area was messy, cluttered and dirty, and tools were simply left lying around,” Mr Chang says. “This not only poses an injury risk, but also means workers had to sift through clutter to find the tools or parts needed for a specific job, which resulted in time wasted searching for misplaced items.” Other issues that Mr Chang helped the company identify were the accumulation of unused or old inventory and raw materials, and the lack of barcoding, inventory dating, colour coding and naming conventions.
As a result, there were many cases where the company’s staff would use the wrong materials or parts to manufacture products, which led to many customer complaints, product returns and wastage.
“They would then have to spend more time and resources to reproduce those products, which affected the overall productivity and profitability of the company,” says Mr Chang.
As part of the programme, 2M Precision Automation had to first organise its work area, including removing clutter and cleaning tools, machines and other equipment, to improve workflow. The company also installed shadow boxes and storage cabinets with barcoded handles to reduce time spent searching for tools or inventory.
“Such a system facilitates quick tool changes for different product lines as our staff can now locate and retrieve the right tools or materials in 30 to 60 seconds with minimum steps,” says Mr Teo. “This has helped reduce our product processing time by 25% and material wastage by up to 30%.”
The company has also seen a 20% increase in customer orders. “The reduction in worker confusion has resulted in greater efficiency and minimal product errors, which has translated to an increase in customer confidence and sales,” says Mr Teo.
Additionally, the company uses floor markings and divider lines to mark aisles, hazardous equipment and work station boundaries.
“These ensure that our staff, as well as customers, can navigate safely through our facility and easily understand how an area operates or what certain items are used for based on labels, signs and other visible cues,” Mr Teo explains.
“The easier a workplace is to understand, the more productive and efficient it will be,” says Mr Chang. “But this would not be effective without the belief, commitment and support from a company’s top management to maintain the best practices and momentum of the 5S programme.”
Positioned for the Future
Armed with greater productivity and increased confidence, 2M Precision Automation is now ready to expand its business. “We plan to set up offices in the US and the Philippines as part of our drive to gain a foothold in overseas markets,” Mr Teo says.
The company has also started to expand into other sectors, including medical, defence, and oil and gas. Recently, it passed a due diligence audit by representatives from a US multinational oil and gas firm. “We expect to receive more orders soon,” says Mr Teo.
Since expanding into these sectors, the company has seen a 60% increase in revenue.
Overall, Mr Teo believes the benefits brought about by the 5S programme will stand the company in good stead for future growth.
“SiPi, through the programme, has helped us raise the productivity of our workplace and professionalism of our staff, and set the tone for more improvements to come.”
To sustain a global competitive advantage, 2M Precision Automation’s direction for 2016 is to Increased Capabilities but not Capacity.
Reproduced with permission from SPRINGnews November 2015 Issue. Published by SPRING Singapore