Each Rohrer plant takes pride in their dedication to ever-increasing quality levels. They have each taken Lean Manufacturing principles and ISO 9001 standards as a baseline to develop new quality and safety initiatives unique to each location.
Wadsworth: Excellence Captured
Location: Wadsworth, OH
In August 2020, Rohrer opened its doors to its first Center of Excellence at the Wadsworth location. After months of expansion and reconfiguration, Wadsworth increased its manufacturing footprint to 200,000 square feet. A Center of Excellence (CoE) is a model that represents industry-leading standards of knowledge, technologies and workflow efficiencies representing any industry sector. In other words, quality standards and efficiencies were designed and built-in from the ground up.
Dave Burkhart, Director of Operation at Wadsworth explains the facility is already ISO certified, but the floor plan adheres to Lean Manufacturing methodologies to optimize workflow via the whole manufacturing value stream – from raw materials in the door through finished goods out the door. In particular, Wadsworth had a Continuous Improvement (CI) manager and team onsite charged with integrating another CI program – Kaizen. Whereas Lean operates under the “5 S’s” – Kaizen is all about the “5 Whys.” The purpose is to determine the root cause of a defect or issue by repeating the question “Why?.” Each answer in turn forms the basis of the next question.
Other CoE features include state-of-the-art equipment, enhanced training, virtual customer approvals/site visits, ‘”greener” processes such as a new scrap system and the new ecoCombo™ program. This Rohrer innovation is similar to its ezCombo™ packaging solution using post-consumer recycled content.
Addison: Ahead of the Curve
Produces: Plain and Decorated Fabricated Cartons, Rounds, Lids and Packaging Services for our Business Partners
Location: Addison, IL
Addison takes being ‘up to date’ to a new level. Jorge Claeyssen, Quality Manager at Addison stays ahead of the quality curve by several in-house initiatives with their Red Tag and S.T.O.P. programs as prime examples. The former is when the managers do regular walk-arounds and tag any equipment or materials that are obsolete. Before discarding the tagged items, a meeting is held to review their ultimate fate. This program has enabled Addison to meet or exceed its scrap goal of less than 7%. By measuring how much scrap is produced, defect rates can be quantified, and corrective actions taken.
S.T.O.P. stands for Safety Training Observation Program that was initially developed by DuPont and has been adopted throughout manufacturing as a best practice. It empowers all employees to take proactive safety action, starting with safety training to educate employees on how to identify potential risks. They then fill out STOP cards to alert management if they see accident risks. The cards are also used to communicate safety best practices that are observed so management can share in subsequent trainings.
Apart from the annual document control revision where they review every document, Addison continuously updates their documents. This ensures that all work instructions, safety training materials, etc. are up to date.
Buford: “Every Day is a Journey for Quality Improvement”
Produces: Printed Blister Cards, Insert Cards, Folding Cartons and Thermoformed Products
Location: Buford, GA
Ken Fish, Quality Manager at Buford summed up his facility’s quality efforts in this simple statement, “Every day is a journey for quality improvement.” They not only have several existing quality programs in place but are mapping out new initiatives for the near future. Buford implements both Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen principles.
Buford, like many Rohrer plants, has a proactive safety program, with Buford having the most robust. Weekly safety walk-around tours are in addition to the more in-depth monthly safety audits. This is when teams inspect everything from ladders to hazmat labeling to equipment to emergency lighting. They also have safety alerts where employees can document current or potential hazards by taking pictures to share with management. This data is then communicated with other plants to help in their preventive measures as well.
And then there are the quality alerts at Buford. When a defect or issue is found during a spot check, a quality alert report is generated. A same day review is conducted to determine corrective actions and then sent to the customer.
Buford has distinguished itself with developing new quality programs. For example, they created a template for a monthly quality review. This tool is now used at other Rohrer facilities to evaluate quality trends and issues.
And this is just one example. Buford has two other quality initiatives that they hope to roll out in 2021. The first is to overhaul their inventory system so production can run at full capacity without having to sit idle waiting for parts or materials. The second is a preventative maintenance program where regularly scheduled equipment checks can identify potential problems before they occur.
Huntley: Measure and Monitor. Repeat
Produces: Designs/Manufactures Thermoforming Tools/Products
Location: Huntley, IL
Huntley makes thermoformed packaging that can be customized for maximum shelf impact. “The tools produced at Huntley are expensive to build and demand the highest quality controls to ensure precision in later production runs,” as explained by Evonne Hartline, Quality Manager at Huntley. On a visit to the Huntley facility, you would see dedicated quality inspectors measuring and monitoring every phase of production, making sure non-conforming materials or products are flagged for corrective action. In particular, Huntley has a Production Part Approval Process. It is a set of measurements that validates the new tool’s ability to consistently produce quality parts.
In their efforts of continuous improvements, Huntley recently underwent ISO 9001 training to keep their certification intact. One noteworthy quality initiative had to do with enhanced efficiency. By saving the production specs or “recipe” on computers, it can be accessed immediately from run to run thus eliminating down time and reducing waste.
Bensenville: Beat the Clock
Produces: Designs/Manufactures Thermoforming Tools/Products, Specializing in the ezCombo™ Blister Program
Location: Bensenville, IL
Within Bensenville’s quality manual is a process map. It starts with customer requirements and ends with customer satisfaction – and fast turnaround times can certainly be a quality of customer service.
So, what’s the secret of Bensenville’s distinction of having the fastest turnaround times to date? Dan Bond, Production Manager at Bensenville stated, “It’s our process interaction map.” It’s designed to not only dictate what processes to be followed, but also the time and operational efficiencies to conduct them. For example, quality control is managed by two mission critical employees; set-up and process technicians. It is their job to oversee that quality is built into every product. Bensenville like other Rohrer facilities utilize ‘first article’ and spot quality checks during a production run. The first article produced is inspected for any defects before the run continues. Additional spot checks can be requested by the customer at required intervals to determine quality consistency.
An example of a process assurance check would be using different measurement tools like a micrometer to verify product specs and to ensure they meet our quality standards.
Apart from their ISO 9001 certification, Bensenville has other quality initiatives in place that contribute to their fast turnaround status. In particular, Rohrer’s unique ezCombo™ program is run at this location further enhancing its efficiency factor.
In collaboration with Wadsworth, Bensenville just launched a groundbreaking customer service feature. Customers typically do the heat sealing of ‘blister to card’ at their own location. If a problem occurs, they give Rohrer a call for assistance. Bensenville and Wadsworth have now implemented Sealing and Troubleshooting Guidelines for customers to use at their own facilities. Additional assistance is just a phone-call away with the added bonus of a dedicated expert available for customized troubleshooting.
Mesa: Doubles their print capacity
Produces: Printed Blister Cards, Insert Cards and Folding Cartons
Location: Mesa, AZ
Mesa exemplifies the “if you can manage quality, you can measure it”.
They knew that by managing their equipment more efficiently, they could increase the quality and quantity of their print capacity to a measurable degree. So that’s what they did. By reconfiguring their manufacturing capabilities by first moving two thermoforming machines to Tijuana and then transferring 10-color KBA presses from Solon to Mesa, they could boast a 40% or more increase in their print capacity.
Mesa also is ISO-9001 certified and follows many of the same, stringent quality procedures as other plants, namely Wadsworth’s “Center of Excellence” protocol. This would include checklists and audits performed regularly in critical stages of their manufacturing process. Additional internal audits are conducted in the Printing, Die Cutting and Packing Areas by qualified operators periodically.
Mesa will start training and implementation of the successful S.T.O.P. (Safety Training Observation Program) in the coming months. Addison is already up and running with S.T.O.P. by empowering all employees to take proactive safety action.
One side note for Mesa is that when it’s 60 degrees outside, employees break out their winter clothes. And they only have a two-hour drive to see snow!
Tijuana: 2021 – World Class Quality
Produces: Custom and ezCombo™ Thermoforming
Location: Tijuana, Mexico
Many US-based packaging customers have expanded their manufacturing to Tijuana and Mexicali. The move mandated the need for a local packaging partner, so Rohrer soon began construction of a new facility in the Tijuana area. Rohrer opened its doors to its new, world-class facility in early 2019 with approximately 100 employees. We are bringing all of the industry-leading manufacturing knowledge to Tijuana and duplicating the quality processes in a brand-new, state-of-the-art greenfield facility.
Javier Solis, the Plant manager, is a LEAN instructor at the local college as well as a career long practitioner of LEAN principles. He was specifically hired to build the Tijuana team based on LEAN best practices and principles he learned from his vast knowledge and experience. In a short time, Javier has established several quality milestones including:
- Lean Manufacturing is integrated into every department and process at Tijuana.
- Customer-audited Quality Management System (QMS): Documents the manufacturing processes already in place and will establish agreements with our packaging customers moving forward.
- ISO 9001 certification ready by 2022.
- Additional quality systems in place include Kanban and OMS. Kanban is a visual method for controlling production as part of Just in Time (JIT) and Lean Manufacturing programs. Order Management System (OMS) is the platform used by Rohrer corporation to share information of sales, orders, inventory, and fulfillment of these with the departments of its different companies.