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Sustainability: Moving from Common Sense to Common Practice
2016 International Conference
Leesburg, VA - National Conference Center

September 18th - 21st

TLS Provides Successful Sustainability Strategies and Tactics

John Hudson - Practical, Independent TLS Consultant
Co-Presenter, Pat Patterson - President and CEO Colortree Group (CTG)

All manufacturing firms face significant challenges to implementing a sustainable process of ongoing improvement. TLS offers strategies and tactics that provide breakthrough improvements as well as long term sustainability. John Hudson and Pat Patterson will provide a detailed, successful case study at the 14th Annual TOCICO International Conference in 2016.

Colortree Group (CTG) has delivered smart solutions and quality products to customers in not-for-profit industries, other businesses, and education since 1988. Their niche is where high definition color envelopes, direct marketing materials, digital printing technologies and expertise intersect. Their business practices have placed them at the forefront of environmental stewardship, responsiveness and innovation.

They adopted TOC measurements and have continually refined Key Performance Indicators as changes occurred. President and CEO Pat Patterson is a Jonah and has used this knowledge to help turnaround several companies in a prior life. John Hudson is an Academic Jonah and certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt who has assisted CTG.

Guided by TLS principles and effective leadership, innovative sustainable improvement has become common practice in the organization.

John Hudson and Pat Patterson met in 1992 when both served on a TOC Jonah Roundtable at Clemson University. When Pat moved to Virginia in 2001 to take over managing CTG, a business that he subsequently purchased, he sought out John. CTG has used John’s services on many projects, including personal coaching of several key operations managers and a very successful Kaizen event to reinvent front-end operations from pre-press through customer service. When Pat considers innovative modifications to the firm’s Key Performance Indicators (KPl's), he seeks John's counsel.

What to Change and What to Change To:
While CTG has been successfully managed by TOC principles for many years, Pat realized that they needed to change to TLS by adding Lean and Six Sigma knowledge and skills for key leaders on their management team.

How to Cause and Implement the Change:

In 2015, CTG contracted with Sustained Systems Solutions, LLC (S3) for John Hudson to lead this initiative.
  • S3 and CTG chose to implement the change by starting with a full day, hands-on workshop combining the principles of TOC and Lean for 20 key managers. While some of them had experienced TOC and Lean education, this provided a common platform for all of them to coordinate their understanding. John Hudson and S3 partner Steve Nattsas led the event with workshop objectives to help these leaders to:
  1. Gain a better understanding of how to manage systems (including production systems);
  2. Learn what changes help and why they help; and
  3. Understand what changes to make to existing systems.
The event allowed participants to experience challenges in a simulated factory, in order to learn TOC and Lean principles, so they would wisely apply them in their own areas of responsibility. The concept of Product Octane was covered as a way to analyze product mix alternatives. Participants internalized the principles by seeing their systematic application and their effects. The workshop dramatically illustrated how TOC provides the focus for leverage and Lean proves that "there’s no business like Flow business”.

  • This was followed by a full day session led by Steve Nattsas on Six Sigma’s DMAIC problem solving approach along with John Hudson’s introduction to the A3 problem solving tool. S3 immediately facilitated participants in brainstorming the practical application of these methodologies to actual, real-life CTG challenges. Areas discussed included Capacity Planning, Quality Control (including outsourcing), and Accuracy of Quoting.
  • Subsequently TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) was identified as the advanced Lean methodology that would provide the highest ROI for CTG. Its goal is to measure and continuously improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) by recouping "Opportunity T” through on-going efforts to reduce the six Throughput losses from:
  1. Setups and Adjustments (Availability)
  2. Breakdowns (Availability)
  3. Idling and Minor Stoppages (Performance Efficiency)
  4. Reduced Speed (Performance Efficiency)
  5. Startup (Rate of Quality)
  6. Defects and Rework (Rate of Quality)
Steve Nattsas assisted CTG with a pilot TPM implementation in late 2015 and TPM was communicated to all CTG staff as the 2016 primary strategic initiative. Leadership was convinced that the 2016 sales plan was the best in the history of the firm. But improved capacity by operations is necessary to execute that plan. TPM is the most rational and financially attractive way to add capacity, especially with some equipment that is aging.

How to measure, refocus, sustain and grow the change:

CTG has consistently measured Throughput (Revenue less totally variable costs) for many years. The TPM initiative adds OEE as another Key Performance Indicator. By improving OEE, "lost” Throughput is avoided and recovered.

The TPM implementation was viewed as a Six Sigma DMAIC project, with phases of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. We focused DMAIC to limit investment of money and time in training and deployment to the frequently used and most effective tools. Pareto asserts that 20% of tools provide 80% of the positive results.

Define determined baseline OEE and estimated the business case for the bottom-line potential for incremental OEE increases. Project scope was defined as all CTG production machines, with early emphasis on those used for high octane products.

The Measure phase validated and enhanced the OEE data collection system.

The Analyze efforts uncovered the highest potential areas for increased Throughput by loss category and by resource (machine). The product octane concept was included in the analysis.

Improve applied proven tools such as 5S Workplace Organization, Setup Time Reduction and A3 Problem Solving.

Most important to sustaining the improvements was the development of a Control Plan to maintain them. This involved both maintenance technicians and machine operators as well as sales professionals. Another contributor was the continuation of a gain sharing system that allows employees to benefit personally from company profits.

CTG seeks the highest operating achievements of any companies in their multiple revenue streams. These accomplishments include very high "productive time” obtainment while exceeding "earned time” of over 100%, with few quality issues. This allows the firm to offset the declining value of their products in today's economy, even with aging equipment. They have repeatedly and successfully identified a need to change and built a sustainable "process of ongoing improvement". The company has not only realized positive changes, but made them a part of its culture by incorporating them into their Key Principles. This success will allow CTG to both survive and thrive.

Watch a short 5 minute video now

John Hudson - is a practical, independent TLS consultant who specializes in focused improvements that are sustained. His experience in a wide range of industries includes teaching, coaching and implementing the principles of the Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma. He has been certified as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt by Accenture and Virginia Tech, as an Academic Jonah by the Avraham Y. Goldratt Institute and as a Quality Engineer (CQE) by ASQ.

He earned his Master’s degree in Statistics from Virginia Tech and has led public and dedicated workshops and seminars on topics such as TOC, Lean, Six Sigma, Applied Statistics, Statistical Process Control and Project Management.

John is an active member of TOCICO and APICS. He has experience making presentations to university and college seminars and workshops, to the APICS Constraints Management Special Interest Group (SIG), to APICS chapters, to ASQ and to other organizations. He made two presentations at the 2014 TOCICO conference in the Healthcare track.

He is active in his church and enjoys tennis, racquetball, pickleball and guitar. John serves on the Board of Directors of the Epiphany Episcopal School -

John is married with four sons and one grandchild.

Pat Patterson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Colortree Group. He is a Jonah in the TOC business philosophy and has used this knowledge to help turnaround several firms in a prior life.

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