Crayola: Lean, Six Sigma, A3’s and DMAIC Co-Existing like Paint and Canvas

Alek Farkas, Distribution Center Manager, Crayola, LLC, Bethlehem, PA, USA

Keywords: Crayola, Six Sigma, Lean

Industry: Manufacturing

Level: Basic


Crayola: Lean, Six Sigma, A3’s and DMAIC coexisting like Paint and a Canvas

Crayola manufactures over 2.2 billion crayons, 500 million markers per year and 2.7 million washable paint strips at their Lehigh Valley facilities. Since 2007, over 100 Green and Black Belts have been trained and certified. The current Green and Black Belt waves include Team Managers, Quality Assurance, Process Improvement, Product Engineering, Engineering Technicians, Logistics, Research and Development and Continuous Improvement personnel. This project, which is being led by a team manager, is bringing together the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies driving process improvement on the paint strip fill line. The team including operators, interns, mechanics and process engineers have utilized A3 structured problem solving, 5S, and Kanban in addition to traditional Six Sigma tools such as Paired t-Tests, Paretos of downtime event frequency and total time, Standard Deviation testing, Time Series and Capability Studies to improve paint line performance. The implementation of the Kanban system was an evolution from a new standard visual management system identified by A3 structured problem solving. The project manager and Green Belt worked with the operators and forklift material handlers to create a system which avoids stockouts, reduces inventory and provides a demand driven pull processing schedule for the paint mixing room. Additional A3’s focused on daily maintenance which includes operator preventive maintenance, 5S improved workplace organization and visual systems provided feedback on equipment status. This project seamlessly combined the traditional lean and six sigma tools, which sometimes compete in organizations as companies designated themselves as either Lean or Six Sigma practitioners generating substantial quality and material variance improvements. Focusing on the project metrics and areas of need allow us to break the paradigm that these two complementary process improvement methods cannot coexist and flourish.

The Crayola Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hallmark Cards headquartered in Easton, Pennsylvania, began the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) journey in 2000.