In mid 2015, a cross-functional team met in our stainless steel wheel fastener manufacturing facility in Royal Oak, MI for four days to focus on an improvement opportunity, tooling in Royal Oak’s Secondary (Tapping) department. Royal Oak invests heavily in tooling used to form, stamp, thread, and assemble its wheel fastener products.

The cross-functional team, which was comprised of engineers, supervisors, floor team members, and executives, brainstormed the tooling life over the last 5 years. The team concluded that a variety of factors impact the longevity of tooling. Of those factors, the team chose to focus on a handful of the most critical factors that they felt were impacting tool life.

The core team broke into 3 sub teams; each focusing on a factor.

Team 1 focused on the measurement system; the method for how parts are gauged during quality checks. They developed a best practice for determining when tooling should be replaced. Their contributions helped ensure the consistency of how Production determines whether or not a machine is making good parts. It was important for the team to document these best practices. Doing so increased the probability that other improvements could be sustained.

Team 2 decided to document the best practice method for assembling the tooling of the shank, the coupler and the tap. They focused on standardizing how tooling is gaged and investigated how the wear on the machines affects the tooling life.

Team 3 focused their efforts on preventative maintenance to improve the stability of the coolant oil within the machine. They developed standards to keep the coolant oil clear and the coolant system performance consistent.

The implementation of these best practices into Royal Oak’s daily work has helped to improve tooling life. In addition to improvements, the event further strengthened teamwork internally and externally throughout Royal Oak, Mundelein, the Product Development Center and the factory’s tooling and lubricants supply base. Collaboration among these groups will facilitate future continuous improvement.