Hologic Slashes Lead Times with Lean

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Background: Cutting-Edge Mammography Device Market Leader Supports Women’s Health

As a leading developer and manufacturer of medical imaging systems with corporate headquarters located in Bedford, Massachusetts, Hologic, Inc. has provided innovative solutions for women’s healthcare needs for more than 20 years. One of the company’s primary manufacturing facilities, which is located in Danbury, Connecticut and employs a team of 325 people, develops state-of-the-art digital imaging technology for mammography applications. Hologic currently holds approximately 60% of the market share for worldwide digital mammography and is growing through new technology and products. Danbury is the only Hologic plant that manufactures digital mammography equipment.

With eight years under his belt, Hologic’s Vice President of Manufacturing, Greg Safarik, considers the Danbury facility to be a unique working environment; “Our company culture is reflected by the employees’ personal and professional commitment to women’s healthcare. Many of our employees are connected with the products they develop, whether through a family member, friend or colleague affected by breast cancer. A dynamic, collective energy results from their dedication to excellence and the personal support of improving women’s healthcare.” Since customers, doctors, product technicians, and patients alike frequent the Danbury plant, employees often see and meet their products’ end-users.

Situation: Challenges Stemming from Long Lead Times

In the past, Hologic employees participated in several CONNSTEP training sessions to broaden their understanding of Lean processes and continuous improvement tools. However, sustaining continuous change and expanding on the basic foundations of Lean proved to be challenging to their resources. With a focus on meeting expanding revenue goals and introducing new products over the next few years, Lean became less and less of an emphasis, but more and more of a necessity. Despite meeting the projected revenue growth, Michael Parrilla, Senior Vice President of Corporate Manufacturing Operations, still felt that there was room for improvement. While Hologic worked to develop a new line of mammography products, the Danbury plant prepared to address their battles with long lead times (averaging 60-90 days), inefficient product flow, and unmet inventory requirements.

Solution: Companywide Lean Integration with PRIME Kaizen

Under Michael’s leadership, Greg and his team were determined to fully integrate Lean methodologies into the facility’s processes to create positive, lasting change and to develop solutions to the lead time, inventory, and product flow troubles. They met with CONNSTEP for assistance optimizing their shop floor layout to accommodate a new line of mammography equipment. Michael sought funding from the state to offset the cost of instituting Lean practices at his location. Upon surveying and diagnosing Hologic’s needs (i.e. basic Lean training, value stream mapping and the ability to implement these practices to improve production capacity), CONNSTEP recommended the Connecticut Light& Power (CL&P) PRIME Program, which perfectly aligned with their needs.

The Lean training took place as a companywide initiative to educate the Hologic workforce about implementing continuous improvement tools with the Lean knowledge they already possessed. The team organized a kaizen event to create a functional Kanban system and organize individual work cells as part of an overarching strategy to eliminate non-value added activities throughout the facility. They utilized Value Stream Mapping, 5S, spaghetti charts, and point-of-use storage, as well as cellular manufacturing as a model for improved workplace design. Like most companies, Hologic encountered employee resistance when it came to altering and sometimes reducing work spaces to streamline the manufacturing process. Greg shared, “Once the team experienced the positive results from their efforts, they realized the benefits and “the desire to participate in kaizen events increased,” adding, “the energy was contagious and employee cross motivation was the critical element which improved the company culture and acceptance of our new Lean processes.”

Results:

  • 11% increase in unit production
  • Reduced lead time by 50%
  • $280,000 cost savings
  • $80,000,000 increase in sales
  • 100% on-time shipment rate

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