Valspar: Reducing Changeover Time

Background

The Valspar Corporation is one of the largest international manufacturers of paint and coatings in the world. Founded in 1806, the company has nearly 10,000 employees and is located in 25 countries.

Valspar is the largest producer of powder coatings (a type of coating primarily used to coat metals) in North America. Valspar experienced a period of high customer demand for powder coatings during a time when the company struggled with a limited production capacity. Batch sizes began to decrease, which required more changeovers at production plants. The changeover time was too long to meet the high customer demand. As a result, Valspar partnered with QualPro to improve powder production line changeover time across three plants in order to meet customer demand.

Approach

QualPro helped Valspar assemble a team composed of operations staff members, operators, maintenance personnel, technicians, and logistics members. Next, our consultants helped project participants from each of three manufacturing sites review historical data and evaluate their measurement systems. Our consultants immediately identified several issues. First, each location had its own definitions of when changeovers started and ended. Second, there was no single source for measuring times.

Once the team established a starting point for average changeover time for each of the plants, the team identified over 100 potential improvement ideas designed to reduce changeover times. Our consultants helped Valspar management narrow the list to 19 ideas that were fast, practical, and cost-free. Some of the ideas included changing water pressures, changing solvent types, and having written copies of changeover procedures. Next, our consultants designed an experiment for Valspar employees to perform with the guidance of our consultants.

After initial testing, refining experiments identified six ideas that significantly reduced changeover time. Our consultants worked closely with operators to guide process changes and motivate project team members to exceed goals. The six-month experimentation and analysis provided several recommendations for improvement.

Results

After implementing these recommendations, Valspar reduced changeover time by an average of 44 percent across three plants. This reduction saved Valspar nearly $15 million annually in downtime and saved them $800,000 due to an inventory reduction.