Pipe Manufacturer

Increasing Operator Engagement in a Bottleneck Operation

About the Client

Our client is a copper tube and piping manufacturer that engages in casting, drawing and extrusion within their facility. Raw material is converted into its molten form, where it is then casted, extruded and drawn into tubes and piping. The piping manufactured within their facility can be manufactured in coiled or straight configurations with various lengths and widths.

A FreePoint system was installed earlier to establish a data baseline.

pipe manufacturing freepoint technologies
Manufacturing Challenges FreePoint technologies

The Challenge

A FreePoint manufacturing customer that manufactures pipes had 4 drawing blocks that were the constraint in that part of their operation. Because of the physical properties of the material, there is little benefit to replacing the 80-year old machines with newer machines.

Management sought to determine the primary reasons why the drawing blocks were not running all the time so that improvements could be considered.

In many cases, there were up to 20 minute periods of no value adding activity.

The Solution

Based on the success experienced on another bottleneck operation in the plant (their Straighteners), they asked the Operators to “Narrate” all the downtime periods using FreePoint’s Narrative Application.

The effect was nearly immediate and very easy to see:

  • 15% More Value Added Time
  • Longer Runs of Machine Activity
  • 68% Less Downtime

This productivity increase was not an anomaly but had become the ‘new norm’.

Injection Molding

The Outcome

Based on the increase in drawing time and value added time, it was concluded that the manufacturer had increased production through their bottleneck by 12.5%. 

Increases in productivity usually stems from 2 causes: the first is the operators being more aware of what is being measured, and the second is management acting on the data.

In this case, turning insight into action had the biggest effect, evident by the significant decrease in unplanned downtime occurrences.


Productivity Increased 12.5%

Value Added Time Increased 15%

Downtime Decreased 68%

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