FS Elliott Uses Six Sigma To Reduce Test Failures

Client Profile:

FS-Elliott is a word-class manufacturer that produces reliable and energy efficient air solutions. They developed the first oil-free, integrally geared, multi-stage, centrifugal air compressor in 1962, which grew into the PAP Plus® product line that is manufactured today. The company employs 200 people at its headquarters in Export, PA.

Situation:

FS-Elliott wanted to cut down on waste of valuable resources due to reworking and retesting airends and full units. At the time, the first pass yield for the airends was 74% and none of the full units passed the first time. After reviewing their options, the company decided to send their quality engineer Mike Mohan to the public Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course Operations Strategy Consulting (OSC) was holding.

Solution:

While going through training, Mike worked with Megan Burns of OSC on his project. After working through the data and completing the failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) with his project team, Mike realized there were five key drivers to the test floor failures. Working with Megan, the team decided to tackle those key drivers in a phased approach.

FS-Elliott first tackled the failures associated with the seal rub resulting in a loss of more than $69,000 just on the test floor. The failed Gage R & R confirmed the company’s vendors were not measuring the same as FS-Elliott. They also discovered the inside diameter (ID) was shifted to the low side causing failures. Working with their vendors, FS-Elliott improved the quality of the seal rubs and adjusted the tolerance to the high side on all part numbers.

Next the project team turned its focus to the oil leak failures which were costing the company nearly $135,000 just on the test floor. Through its analysis, the team discovered a problem with the operators properly applying sealant and following the oil hose torque requirements. By revising the drawings, retraining all the operators, and implementing an audit schedule the team reduced oil leaks by more than 90 percent.

Mike and his team followed the same process Megan taught them to tackle the high vibration problem and the low flow problem. Once the root causes were resolved, a control plan was developed to ensure they did not return.

Results:

  • Seal failures were reduced from 24% to just 2% resulting in a savings of more than $54,000 in 2011 and projected savings of $60,000 in 2012.
  • Oil leaks were reduced by 92% resulting in a savings of nearly $124,000.
  • Total test floor performance improved by 54% resulting in more than $193,000 of projected savings for 2012.
The executive team here at FS-Elliott was so pleased with the results I was able to achieve with Megan’s help that they want to expand the use of Six Sigma here. They plan to do this by having an entire wave of people trained and working on projects. Mike Mohan, Quality Engineer

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