At a North American food and beverage company a prevailing quality problem was putting one of their largest brands at risk. They could not find a solution to a problem that allowed mold to grow in one of their signature brands. In addition this problem was costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in waste.
For two years, the company had tried to solve the problem. They employed plant and corporate level teams, involved their OEM’s, and called on dedicated lean and six sigma experts. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on parts and “fixes” but saw little to no improvement. The leadership team felt immense stress that one day the brand would be massively impacted by poor quality product reaching a consumer. In addition, the problem caused years of organizational headache given the resource focus it had required. In the end they called Stroud as their last hope to fix the problem.
Rather than treating the symptoms, Stroud and the client team dug down to find the root cause of the problem. By using a first-principles problem solving approach the team found that there was a flaw in the original design of the equipment that sealed the product. By understanding the problem’s root cause, the team was able to change the maintenance procedures on the machine to prevent the design flaw from impacting the product quality.
After four weeks working on the problem, the team reduced quality rejects by 90%. The company’s concerns about their brand and a loss in market share were eliminated. Their people were excited and engaged, and were left with the confidence they could solve more of the business’s “impossible” problems.
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