Welcome to Coppola Enterprises, Inc.

Using Lean Manufacturing Techniques and unique applications of Statistical Process Control to increase profits.

The Company:

Rubberlite, Inc. is a producer of cellular rubber and plastic products for applications including insulation and athletic padding, fire-rated UL gaskets, footwear, toys and packaging. Rubberlite employs 150 people with annual sales of approximately $40,000,000. The company is positioned financially, technically, with appropriate resources and operational systems to grow to $50,000,000 within the next year period.

The Situation:

Our competitors had established an industry quality standard to scythe rubber to + or - .025" tolerances. This kind of capability was accepted industry wide; however the downside of this is "waste of materials" and "inconsistent product variation." The inconsistent product variation is visible to the customer. Our goals were several:

  1. To reduce variation in our process to + or - .010".
  2. To establish raw material yields that would result in an increase in sellable material from each "bun" purchased as raw material.

In the way of explanation and to better describe the issues: raw buns purchased are 72" x 42" x 2". If cutting 1/4" material, the customer tolerances are .250" + or - .025" (therefore, .225" to .275") and if we acted similar to our competitors, we would target the middle of the tolerance, .250 and be happy if we were actually anywhere between .225" and .275". If you separately roll two- 1/4 inch cuts that are 50 feet long, and place them side by side, the diameter of the rolls could be noticeably different. One roll could be cut at .235" and the other at .265". Consequently, this variation is viewed by the customer as a lack of consistency and quality. We also believed that by reducing variation in the processes and targeting our cuts at the lower end of the tolerances, the cumulative effect would be extra sellable material (i.e. less wasted material).

The Results:

Rubberlite and Coppola Enterprises embarked on a mission to develop and implement a program of reducing variation for increased customer satisfaction and reducing material waste. The program was implemented over a three year period and entailed work standardization, intensive training and employee input into the process improvement.

This was accomplished by using problem solving activities and unique applications of Statistical Process Control. We succeeded in reducing the variation in our process to meet our goal of + or - .010" and in fact bettered this for some raw materials. This allowed us to target on the low side of the tolerance (i.e for 1/4" cuts we targeted the process at .235" to .240" instead of .250"). This resulted in a cumulative effect for each raw bun processed of about an extra 1/8" of sellable material. As we refined this program and our machine operators became more adapt at process variation reduction and the use of problem solving/SPC techniques (including software data input at each work station) the financial rewards grew significantly. Rubberlite has estimated that this program has contributed approximately $300,000 per year in additional profit. The consistency of product dimensions is also a significant factor in strong customer loyalty and satisfaction. As we grow, the rewards will continue to multiply and reap tremendous paybacks.