case study

Reliable & unambiguous data key to strategic business decisions

Rockline Industries is a global, world-class manufacturer of disposable paper products. Founded in 1976, the business employs over 1800 people world-wide, with facilities in the USA, UK and China.

Rockline is family owned and run, giving a real personal touch to their philosophy of integrity and teamwork and a passion for providing excellent value and service to their customers. With this in mind, their quality policy commits them to continually improving their manufacturing processes.

"We had been measuring OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) across our manufacturing facilities by capturing data manually and transferring it to spreadsheets," commented Alex Cormack, Rockline’s UK Manufacturing Director. "This manual process was not adding value to our business, as the data was ambiguous and inconsistent and contained numerous errors which were difficult to correct after the event."

Most of Rockline’s CI (Continuous Improvement) program was based around this data, making results of continuous improvement difficult to qualify. The business also wanted to use the data to justify financial investment and demonstrate ROI.

"As a business, delivering a return on investment is fundamental to success, and to commit to longer term strategies, we needed unambiguous, reliable data to base our case on and to validate the return."
Alex Cormack, UK Manufacturing Director

The pilot

Rockline decided to pilot Gemba’s Efficiency software on 3 lines at their Redditch site. Eager to start benefitting from the data that the system provides and to futureproof their continuous improvement strategy, the Company wanted a flexible and expandable plant connected system that could be easily configured and administered by their own team and could be installed quickly.

Based on the success of the pilot, Rockline had no hesitation in rolling the system out to cover all the manufacturing lines at the Redditch site.

"I’d had significant experience with Gemba prior to joining Rockline Industries and knew that their product would meet and even exceed our needs."
Alex Cormack, UK Manufacturing Director

The Data

In order to get the best possible resolution of data, staff at Rockline chose to monitor performance on every machine individually, and began using the data to validate their understanding of their performance. Operator interaction with the Gemba system has been seamless, all stakeholders being involved at every stage of the project.

"The data from the Gemba software very quickly dispelled a number of myths manifest in our business about the root causes of repeated issues"
Alex Cormack, UK Manufacturing Director

"It is vital to provide our operators with the tools they need for their job, and who knows what they need better than they do?" commented Alex. "Once we completed installation on the first lines, other operators were asking when they could get their lines done." Staff report that their approach to bottleneck analysis has become consistent, and getting to the root cause of problems is made much easier with Gemba’s software. Visual management techniques have recently been adopted at the Redditch site, with the software running on shop-floor workstations.

"Improvements in performance have come as a direct result of operators interacting easily with the system" said Alex. "Gemba’s software provides all the information they need in an easy-to-read format, and being able to monitor the effect of any adjustments to a process in real-time gives them instant clarification of any performance or quality improvement."

The Benefits

One of the issues that the efficiency software has highlighted was a significant level of unscheduled downtime on 1 line. A pareto of downtime reasons for this line revealed that most of the problem was due to the time it was taking to change a roll of material on the line.

"The data from the Gemba system allowed us to challenge and improve our roll change procedure, and the sustained results of this have been excellent"
Ben Patenden, CI Manager

In fact, Rockline staff have managed to reduce the amount of unscheduled downtime for this issue by more than half, resulting in them being able to produce almost 0.5 million extra units on this line over a period of 6 months. “One of the great things about Gemba’s software is its flexibility” commented Ben. “The operators have since asked for a button to enable them to view this specific downtime event, so that they can police themselves on sustainability. Great for us, great for them - a true win/win!

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