It is entirely possible to solve the wrong problem. The following seven step problem solving process will help a bit.
- Define the problem. For instance we have been struggling with low production output at our small factory. So our desire was to improve output. Output is measured in cartons produced.
- Collect data. We collected data by reviewing the production reports. We also observed the process. We talked to the people performing the process.
- Root cause analysis. We did a trend analysis of output. The production process was broken down into various steps. The analysis revealed several issues. We didn’t have a reliable water source. There were also occasional power outages. The pasteurization process was rather slow and cumbersome. The fruit pulping process was manual. The entire process was manual including bottle filling, labeling, capping and wrapping. The key constraint was identified as the pulping process, pasteurization, and the wrapping process.
- Solution planning and implementation. Once we identified the root causes we defined and implemented some solutions. We installed an underground water system. We have also installed a filtration system to purify the water. A new gas plant was purchased to fasten the pasteurization process. A small bottle filler was purchased from China. A second heat gun was purchased to quicken the wrapping process. A pulping machine was fabricated to ease the pulping process.
- Evaluation of effects. Through these small changes we have been able to double production output.
- Standardization. Once these changes were achieved we standardized the process and applied it to subsequent new products.
- Evaluation of process. An evaluation of the process was conducted. More improvements have been identified. For instance a fully automated production line is required to optimize the process. We also need to acquire an electric pasteurization machine. Plus we need to upgrade our power supply to three phase to be able to install bigger equipment. A generator will also be needed to minimize impact of outages.