Leaning into Quality

Dutton Plastics Engineering (DPE) based in Alrode, south of Johannesburg was founded in 1957 as a company producing dies for metal pressings. Over the years that followed DPE grew extensively and in 1987 became part of the Zimco Group of Companies, who are South Africa's leading producer of Industrial and Base minerals, a major producer and supplier of Zinc, Lead, Aluminium Metal and Alloys, related chemicals and engineering plastics. Zimco was purchased by Eco-Bat Technologies in 1999, a parent company with operations in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Austria and the USA.

Equipment at DPE includes machines for injection moulding, blow moulding and compression moulding. Machines ranging from 20 tons to 800 tons and have placed the company in the ranks of the larger reputed plastic converters of its type.

DPE produces a wide range of products for the plumbing and packaging sectors.

An active SHERQ Department is responsible for the development of the quality, health, safety, risk and environmental systems which are controlled under the auspices of the Central Management System. They have tri-certification on ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.

We met with Juan Muller (MD), Joseph Maswinyaneng (Factory Mgr.) and Masopha Moshoeshoe (SHERQ Mgr.)

A comprehensive implementation of lean strategy of a business management system utilizing the 'tools' of lean such as 5S, Kaizen, Kanban and workplace management has transformed DPE into a highly competitive player in the plastics forming and extrusion sector.

We wanted to know how the relevance of going 'lean' had enhanced the overall SHERQ process in terms of the eight quality principles implicit in a business quality management system.

We asked - "How has lean contributed to Customer Focus?"

Juan explained while the company had an IT system which through MRP provided procurement, purchasing and planning in the conventional manner, the key driver to order management was the introduction of a kanban system which has minimum and maximum stock levels and as we supply our customers from finished goods stock the kanban system as enabled us to reduce by over 50% our finished goods warehouse stock yet enable us to satisfy demand.

Additionally by using lean manufacturing we have reduced batch sizes and increased throughput rate without compromising sales demand and customer needs.

Juan explained that DPE had some lines working as 'Known Value Items' made - to - stock, other lines worked on a make - to - order basis and this give sufficient flexibility to manage demand.

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