Milton Roy – A Case Study
Milton Roy is an Ivyland, Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of highly engineered products and equipment. Founder Milton Roy Sheen invented the step valve metering pump in 1936, and in the years since, the company he co-founded has continued to respond to and anticipate industry changes in order to meet and exceed customer expectations.
With manufacturing locations in the United States, UK, France, China, and India, Milton Roy has expanded its initial metering pump product offering to include fluid control and odorization equipment for a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, energy, petro-chemical, and water and wastewater treatment.
The company performs a functionality test on 100% of its electronic pumps as a manufacturing validation step. These tests require the pump to meet a given flow rate at its rated pressure within a set amount of time.
“The issue we encountered was an inability to meet the flow rate threshold on first test,” says Milton Roy Manufacturing Manager, Eric Pittman. “First-pass yield for one model in particular was quite low, with as many as 230 tests required per 100 pumps shipped.”
Milton Roy was able to perform some post-production tuning and component exchanges in order to pass the functionality test, but Pittman says the company would sometimes spend as many as five test cycles optimizing pump performance in order to meet its test criteria.
“We sought to increase first-pass yield and minimize the need for additional testing,” he says. “If you have a bottleneck at test, it throttles flow down the whole line, impacting productivity while others wait and causing delays and added costs elsewhere in the facility.”
Pittman turned to a DVIRC-led Six Sigma project to understand the factors associated with pump performance and first-pass yield. Next, the team would establish a workable plan to improve pump performance, realizing that in doing so they would also improve overall productivity.
“We gave Milton Roy the tools to collect and analyze data,” says DVIRC Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Manny Veloso. “Their staff engineers already had an outstanding ability to work with data; we enabled them to collect the right data and apply what they learned from the statistical methods and graphical tools.”
“We realized the need to approach the problem from different vectors,” says Pittman. “It was a multivariable issue, rather than one single component or design element. We would attack from one direction, and other issues would emerge. We thought we understood the solution several times, but once we would pull on that string, we would see other dynamics come into play—there was a whole set of contributing factors.”
“Ultimately we focused on the design elements associated with the check valve component,” Pittman says. “We were able to not only test our instincts, but double-check our gut feel with hard data; we realized that other elements were part of the issue, but we were able to quantify the contribution this component made to the system.”
- Working together on a DVIRC-led Six Sigma project produced several significant results at Milton Roy. The organization now enjoys more than $4,000 in annual material cost savings, and increased test bed throughput means faster time to market.
- One of the most significant results of this effort, however, is the organizational savings of $140,000 in avoided costs associated with re-testing. This serves as proof that DVIRC-led Six Sigma projects generate dramatic returns for the businesses that seek our service.
“The Six Sigma project forced us to commit things to paper,” Pittman adds. “Even for those who were familiar with the issue, putting our investigation on paper in a way that could be simplified and shared enabled us to better understand what was at play. We got the team aligned, and I have to give credit to DVIRC for structuring the lessons through the DMAIC process to encourage us to flesh out each step of the process and not rush to assumption.”