A small shoe manufacturing facility in Hungary cut leather shoe parts for the production line producing high quality shoes for an Italian client. The leather hides were their main cost, and the factory was struggling to break even. Detailed observation of the cutting teams revealed that the process was highly individual, with each worker laying out templates differently. This, combined with natural variations in hide texture, resulted in high levels of wastage and rejects.
Through translators, we managed the local client team, identifying performance improvements, providing training, and embedding the behavioural changes needed to ensure best working practices in a highly manual process.
Key performance improvements focussed on standardising guidelines for cutting the hides, improving the layout of the manufacturing process to reduce transfer times between work stations, and establishing planning guideline times at each stage of the process to help the workers achieve a higher daily volume output.
We worked with the supervisors to establish a fixed pattern of cutting to simplify the cutters’ job. A template was drawn up and fixed to the wall in the cutting room. The supervisors also trained the cutters in exactly how to place the templates to reduce wastage and ensure the hide used for shoe pairs matched. Smaller areas of the hide would be used for the smaller sized shoes to reduce wastage.
Adding closer control mechanisms for the supervisors helped employees to achieve their targets, and to maintain motivation and morale. The yield of shoes from hides increased by 15%.