Creating a “13th month” of Production to Support Growth

Background & the Client Challenge

One of the world’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers was facing rapid growth in its packaging lines at one of their facilities in Ireland, and was looking at ways to improve the relevant processes so that it could increase the annual output of these lines.

The client had ambitious plans for growth. Once these new processes were established, this client wanted to apply them to its other packaging lines for greater efficiencies across its wider operations.

It decided to call on 3SIXTY’s manufacturing experts to review its existing throughput system, identify process improvements that would enhance throughput in its high-speed suite, and implement a system which could be transferred to other packaging lines.

What We Did

A number of our experts are Lean/Six Sigma Master Black Belts, who are adept at employing the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) methodology to improvement projects like this. They formed the core of the 3SIXTY team supporting this particular client, and together with the client’s own stakeholders, implemented a carefully phased programme of improvement, as follows:

MEASURE: the team mapped the processes and value streams of our client’s high-speed suite in detail, reviewed the set-up, the process inputs and outputs, and inventory movement across the suite. That gave us a detailed understanding of the lines.

ANALYSE: we reviewed all data sources and interrogated the calculations used to measure equipment set-up and downtime. We drew up a detailed understanding of downtime codes, which allowed us to prioritise our client’s issues.

IMPROVE: joint workshops were established with a number of on-site stakeholders, including members of our client’s engineering, manufacturing and quality control teams, so that they could develop a sustainable and consensus-based approach to problem solving for the future.

CONTROL: a key element of all our work with clients is to ensure that the initial results ‘stick’ long after we have left the site. To ensure sustainable results, the client team was deeply engaged in making sure that all new procedures were documented, all personnel were trained effectively – including Lean Green Belt methods where needed – and that Statistical Process Control (SPC) and standard work practices for end-to-end production were fully implemented.


As a result of the DMAIC project, our client was able to:

  • Reduce equipment downtime from 16% to 4%
  • Improve line output by 8% – the equivalent of a 13th month in annual production
  • Establish standard work practices
  • Employ leader standard work
  • Implement statistical process controls for leading indicators
  • Apply visual management techniques (SQDCP boards)

Brian O’Brien

Partner & Head Of
Growth Strategies

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