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SIGMAPOINT IS AWARDED TCA'S WORLD CLASS ENTERPRISE
LEAN SIX SIGMA SUPPLIER CERTIFICATION
By Rick L. Smith
July 2, 2010, 12 noon—this might seem like an ordinary point in time,but not so for SigmaPoint Technologies’ suppliers, customers and 290 employees. This is when SigmaPoint was awarded World Class Status for superior performance as a contract manufacturer and certified as a Lean Six Sigma Supplier by Technical Change Associates.
“We’re extremely proud to be recognized for our success in implementing Lean,” notes Dan Bergeron, President and CEO of this Cornwall (Ontario, Canada) company. He adds: “Achieving this certification exemplifies our dedication to provide paramount value to our customers.”
SigmaPoint is an Electronic Manufacturing Services provider focused on developing long-term partnerships with customers and suppliers. SigmaPoint provides end-to-end assembly services for highly complex electronic products within communication, defense, industrial, and transportation markets. It’s their commitment to Lean Manufacturing, exceptional quality, and continuous improvement that prodded Stephane Dubreuil, Director of Lean, to contact TCA in 2008.
For over 25 years, TCA has worked with hundreds of companies to reach their operational goals. Recipients of TCA’s World Class Enterprise Lean Six Sigma Supplier Certification must meet stringent criteria, pass a site audit, and achieve dramatic performance improvements in these areas:
• Lead times
• Cost to value ratio
• Eliminate bottlenecks
• Increase capacity to meet growing demand
SigmaPoint’s journey to World Class status began when the Lean Steering Team, led by Dan Bergeron, decided to take the company to a new level by meeting these objectives:
• Be recognized by customers as a partner in continuous improvement
• Provide the highest quality at the lowest possible cost
• Deliver on time
• Maintain superior customer service
• Keep manufacturing in North America
- With a goal to be acknowledged as a Lean Supplier by a nationally recognized association, the team elected to use TCA’s World Class Enterprise Lean Six Sigma Supplier Assessment and Certification model. This comprehensive method determines a company’s ability to perform at a World Class level.
First, the areas needing improvement were identified and measured. The management team got together and created a Transformation or T-Map, outlining projects required to close gaps from the assessment. Focusing on teamwork in training and using the Lean tools, improvements were seen quickly. For example, cooperative efforts on one Kaizen Event resulted in adding a whole new production line in just 20 days—a feat determined impossible a year earlier. With diligent effort, 426 improvement projects were completed, they’re designed to:
• Improve quality at the source
• Reduce lead times from weeks to days
• Help customers improve the design of their products
• Reduce unplanned equipment downtime
• Eliminate bottlenecks
• Increase capacity to meet growing demand
In some ways the journey was tough. The action plan created after TCA’s assessment gave SigmaPoint a roadmap to drive the program forward and keep goals in view. TCA’s Competition Quad Model provided tools to deliver results. Add strong commitment and SigmaPoint had the winning combination for Lean success.
Another mechanism to help SigmaPoint stay on track was a digital clock installed at the facility, counting down to 12 noon on July 2, 2010. “Visuals are important,” explains Gizanne Lafrance-Allaire, Company Controller. “We never lost sight of our mission. We could walk into any area and see the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) boards. We knew when we were having a good day and when we were not. We knew when we were on target. You know the saying, ‘You can’t improve what you can’t measure.’ We took that to heart.”
IT'S ALL ABOUT PEOPLE
“Our entire organization put forth an outstanding effort in transforming our site into a World Class facility,” confirms Stephane. “And while the certification and award are of great significance to us, the proof of success was when our sales and production throughput doubled. Customers have noticed the improved quality and higher morale of our employees. Business is growing at SigmaPoint.”
“The biggest change that I’ve seen is our culture,” says Lyn McDiarmid, Director of Supply Chain. “I’ve seen our group go from doubt about Lean and feeling it could never work at a contract manufacturing site to the excitement of eliminating a non-value-added step or saving seconds in a process! The best Lean ambassadors during a customer tour are the shop floor employees, who love to demonstrate their success.”
The employees worked extremely hard on implementing the numerous changes to work stations and work flow. Paula Fontaine, Human Resources Manager, states, “I’ve had the privilege to work side by side with so many talented, dedicated, and committed individuals that believed we could succeed. They made this journey exciting, challenging, fun, scary and at times just down right difficult…but we remained firm and we did it!”
Day 1 of the 849-day journey was powerful. When Dan Bergeron announced to his Lean Steering Team his vision to obtain World Class Enterprise certification, the responses were disbelief and skepticism. When he added the July 2, 2010 deadline, he was certifiably insane. But that didn’t discourage this Leader. That afternoon, Dan borrowed a large BELIEVE sign from Customer Service to put on the desk of anyone who doubted the vision. BELIEVE became the slogan and driving force of SigmaPoint’s valiant goal.
“My Lean journey started on December 8, 2008, when I joined SigmaPoint,” Gizanne declares. I was given the BELIEVE sign because of my reluctance to join the Lean Wave.” Her reluctance came from years of watching and accepting batch production. “I am now a true believer. Today I continue my journey to become a valued business partner supplying financials that are simple and clear—no longer being the traditional bean counter.”
SigmaPoint employees worked extremely hard on implementing the numerous changes to their workstations and flow. They struggled at times to Believe; however, management never lost focus. “One thing that will ensure success is the commitment of management,” Stephane adds. “When Dan distributed the BELIEVE sign, we knew he was committed, and his vision became our passion.”
On July 2, 2010, in front of the clock, the entire workforce gathered in unison to count the last 10 seconds down to zero. At that moment, everyone—employees, suppliers, and customers—resounded in a loud cheer. The celebration included a hosted luncheon for everyone, live music, and presentation of a large crystal award signifying their World Class status, with speeches by the Lean Steering Team and many employees. It seemed everyone was elated to have their efforts rewarded.
Already the company is embracing yet another major initiative toward a higher level of operational excellence, customer satisfaction, and continued recognition as a World Class supplier. The continuous improvement journey is not over at SigmaPoint; they have only achieved a significant milestone along the way.
ABOUT THE CERTIFICATION
TCA’s business improvement model focuses on specific objectives while providing leaders with a clear roadmap to reach them. The model builds upon 5 areas:
• Vision, Strategy and Leadership skills
• Lean Business Tools and Methods
• Customer Focused People development
• Systems and Resource Management tool kit
• Six Sigma Quality Program
The TCA World Class Enterprise Lean Six Sigma Supplier Certification model includes 59 segments. Each segment contains 4 levels of rating/grading statements of conditions, which describe performance and objective evidence to assess the current state resulting in a roadmap to the next level of operational excellence. World Class performance is determined by a combined average score for all segments of 3.5 or higher on the scale of 0 to 4. SigmaPoint achieved a score of 3.7 on their latest assessment, indicating that their overall performance as a contract manufacturer is at World Class status.
Call today to discuss the certification model and how it can enhance your World Class efforts.
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