This article will examine the case study written by King and Stapleton (1993). The case study described how a plant layout inefficiency issue in Beothic Fish Processor is examined by the general manager, the plant manager, and three production supervisors. The general manager observed that the production plant is not efficient enough because oftentimes the freezer that stores the fish is not at full capacity. After

Problem identification and fundamental causes of this case study

The main problem of the beothic fish processor case is the inefficiency of the facility, especially in the capelin plant that contributes the highest revenue for the company. Due to the inefficiency of the facility, the company could not achieve the expected profitability. The production cost is high since the facility could not produce a high level of output, hence, decreasing the economies of scale.

The case study identified the fundamental causes of the inefficiency and conclude the causes into four factors: insufficient space, the inefficiency of the conveyor in the infeed system, the manual work at the distribution tables, and the dangerous forklift maneuver to reach the weighing stations. The general manager examined these issues and summarized them into two main issues: the inefficiency of the raw material movement and the inability to push the freezer to operate at full capacity. To solve these issues, the general manager intended to reorganize the entire capelin production system.

I can agree with the analysis of the general manager that the main issue in the inefficiency is related to the raw material movement and it ultimately results in lower output than the capacity. Insufficient space may obstruct the laborers and the forklift to move freely. The conveyor is too long and the waste raw material at the separator should be brought back to the offal area at the infeed system. This waste-handling process will be time-consuming and inefficient, while also adding no value to the end product. The manual work at the distribution table is also an inefficiency that will decrease the level of output. A proper reorganization of the plant layout may solve these problems.

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Recommendation on the Beothic Fish Processor floor plan reorganization and the metrics to be used

The reorganization of the plant layout should be done with thorough and careful analysis. The general manager can use the six sigma model as a framework to better manage the reorganization project. One of the most popular frameworks for process improvement is the six sigma DMAIC model, which stands for define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (Knowles, 2014a). The general manager and the plant supervisors have defined the problem and the cause. Next, the important step is to set the relevant measurements or metrics to evaluate the improvement.

The main metric that should be used to evaluate the improvement is the increase in the level of output. This metric can be enhanced through the improvement of several other metrics. Raman et al. (2009) summarized the measurement of facilities layout efficiency into three categories:

(1) Productive area utilization. This factor is commonly measured by the total space of value-adding area as opposed to the total space of non-value-adding area. These metrics should be well-analyzed to ensure that the facility utilized its value-adding area and minimize the opposite.

(2) facilities layout flexibility. This factor should ultimately consider the total material handling cost as its most important metric. It may also include the total area of free space and the space dedicated to the forklift route.

(3) closeness gap. This factor should use the crucial metrics of the total travel time of raw material in the facility. It can be separated into several metrics, such as the total travel time of loaded material handling equipment and labor as well as the total travel time of empty material handling equipment and labor.

After the measurement system is set, the Beothic Fish Processor team can continue with the next stages in six sigma, analyze and improve. Based on these metrics, several recommendations can be proposed as follows.

  1. Remove or minimize the use of a conveyor in sending raw material from one station to another station. Organize the station sequentially with minimum travel time. Since the conveyor is long, removing it will provide a free area to install the stations in a straight line.
  2. Install the offal area next to the separator to ensure that waste material can be directly sent to the waste collector station without any additional handling operation that may increase travel time or consume labor time.
  3. Install the distribution table in line with the separator and incline conveyor so that there is no need to add manual labor to put the fish on the table. Furthermore, the plant should use better statistical process control so that the distribution table can be more efficient.
  4. Install the packing table next to the weighing station to minimize travel time. It will also provide larger space for the forklift to take the blast freezer boxes from the roller conveyor.
  5. Create a guide route for the forklift to pick up the blast freezer boxes and the plate freezer pans. Since the packing table is installed close to the roller conveyor (in point 4), there will be no need to create two forklift routes. The plant will only need one continuous forklift route to enter the plant, pick up the fish, and exit the plant.
  6. Removing the conveyor will result in large free space. The plant can fill this space to add the processing capacity so that the overall plant capacity can match or even be higher than the freezer capacity. It will allow the company to pursue higher turnover which will ultimately improve profitability. However, to improve process capability, it is important to ensure that the new process is already in a stable state (Knowles, 2014b).

These improvements should be followed by the control stage. The main objective is to standardize the new process, set up a new control system, and documentation of the overall process for organizational learning purposes. It is important to note that six sigma is an iterative framework. So, after the new process is standardized, the plant should continue searching for opportunities to improve.

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King, W. & Stapleton, D. (1993).  Improving production at beothic fish processors, Ltd.  Acadia Institute for Case Studies.  Acadia University.

Knowles, G. (2014a). Six sigma. Bookboon.

Knowles, G. (2014b). Quality management. Bookboon.

Raman, D., Nagalingam, S. V., & Lin, G. C. I. (2009). Towards measuring the effectiveness of a facilities layout. Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing, 25(1), 191–203.

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