CI_banner.jpg

 

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT - WORK SMARTER.

 

01/18/2018

#MPWasteWarrior

Do you have what it takes to be a Miller Pipeline Waste Warrior? Be sure to keep up with the waste warrior videos below or on the Miller Pipeline Facebook page. If you, or someone you know, is a Miller Pipeline waster warrior, tag Miller Pipeline on social media with #MPWasteWarrior to receive a Continuous Improvement t-shirt. The only question now is; how will YOU be a waste warrior?


Jim Romer- Manager, Fleet Services

In this video, Jim shows us how to improve the fleet fueling process to help increase efficiency and to save time and money. By saving time and money, we are able to purchase new equipment and become more efficient in our work. To view his video, click here. 

 

Dave Graves, Zach Steiner, Brent Williams and Aaron Kimble- Detroit, Michigan

On average, $3,000 of excess tooling is removed from vans after following the 6S process. Graves and crew learned and applied the 6S process to their tool van and they now are organized, eliminated waste and will save unnecessary costs. Great job, team! Click here to view their video.

 

Caleb Dean- Continuous Improvement Field Support- Ohio Region

Caleb recently completed a Six Sigma Green Belt project to help track steel plates used in the field, with a focus on the Ohio Region. With purchases through the roof, Caleb decided to find a way to cut cost and to efficiently track where steel plates are. By creating an Excel sheet, Dean has helped reduced time wasted looking for plates, and cut costs by renting plates we do not need. View his video by clicking here.

 

Bill Covell- Director of Warehousing & Logistics

Bill recently completed a Six Sigma Green Belt project which helped him save thousands on our annual UPS expenses. Simple improvements to the shipping process have helped to eliminate guesswork while meeting customer requirements. View his video by clicking here.

 

10/19/2016

6S ACTIVITY CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE COMPANY

The 6S activity continues around the company, as we work to increase efficiency through the organization. If you’ve not yet gotten involved in a 6S event and you’d like to be, contact your regional continuous improvement support to find details of 6S activity in your area. Those individuals are listed below:

  • South Region: Greg Moore
  • East Region: Chris Seaman
  • Indiana/Midwest Region: Mike Cox
  • Ohio Region: Caleb Dean
  • Great Lakes Region: Brent Berneking

 

You may remember 5S at Miller Pipeline. Sort, Shine, Set in order, Standardize and Sustain. We have added a 6th “S” – Safety, as most importantly, we must remember safety in all we do – including setting up warehouses and work trucks. Recently, we have focused on the organization in the tool vans. Ken Nielson, a foreman in Michigan, said of the experience, “We like not having to go through everything to find what we need.” He further stated, “Before the 6S we would spend up to 20 or 30 minutes to find a particular item. Now, we know exactly where everything is.” This focus will continue with 6S events planned in Virginia and Michigan. If you DO perform a 6S on your work area, send an email with your shirt size (along with pictures to show your work) to continuous.improvement@millerpipeline.com, and we will send you a Miller Pipeline / MVerge 6S team t-shirt! In addition to 6S, we continue work training crews on contract terms and conditions (with a focus on pay items), and we are also planning another Green Belt training class in Indianapolis in August.

CI_1.jpg

BEFORE:

BEFORE_ci.jpg

AFTER:

CI_after.jpg

As we go along this lean journey, remember you will see changes. These changes are designed to improve safety, quality, and productivity through identification and elimination of waste. They’re also designed to make Miller Pipeline a better, more enjoyable place to work!

 

7/7/2015

JULY 2015 UPDATE

Miller Pipeline continues to invest in training our people to introduce continuous improvement and lean principles. For three days in June, fifteen managers, supervisors, directors and foremen gathered in Indianapolis to obtain their “Green Belt” certification. This certification signifies that the person has been through the training, and accompanying simulation. They are familiar with lean concepts and have the tools and knowledge to lead and participate in structured improvement events. 

We have a number of improvement events planned for the balance of the year including: how to implement a system of “visual management” at the field level in which our crews can see how well they are performing as it relates to safety, quality and productivity. 

Another event planned will standardize the confined space entry procedures across the company. We also plan to remain focused on “checking and adjusting” the results of previous initiatives (part of our Plan, Do, Check, Adjust cycle of continuous improvement) such as reducing the onboarding time of new employees and improving the monthly closing
process.


6/3/2015

JUNE 2015 UPDATE

The yellow or white tool vans and trucks used by Miller Pipeline are, in many ways, the most important piece of equipment on the job site. They hold many tools, pipe/supplies, equipment for shoring, digging, controlling traffic flow, generating power and many other essential functions to the daily work performed. The tool vans are used every day, and during the day our workers enter and exit the vans numerous times retrieving and returning items when finished. Since the vans are a crucial part of the job, this was a perfect and smart opportunity to create efficiency through organization – in other words, the perfect spot to 5S! The Continuous Improvement team took the challenge of 5S-ing the tool vans in Ohio to start, and the first van was completed in May.

The team began by removing and SORTING all of the items in the van, throwing out what wasn't needed to save space and weight. The team then inspected, cleaned (SHINED) the equipment and tools that were removed, SET the items in the new van near their point of use. We used labels and various storage options to STANDARDIZE the placement of the tools, making the items easy to find quickly. When the  inventories are low, or items are missing, we can easily identify the need to re-order before running out completely. The final “S” is to SUSTAIN, and this will be a team effort for all of those working out of this van. This is the first van of many soon to be 5S’d. The small sacrifice of time and energy (entire effort took about a day and a half) coupled with some changes in how materials are requisitioned will help to create efficiency. This crew should expect to spend less time looking for materials, running back to the yard for missing items or finding out tools or equipment are broken.

Congratulations to the entire Ohio team on a job well done! Are there items in your van you haven’t used in the past 60 days? Consider returning those items to the warehouse and reduce the time spent working around excess inventory in your van. You will be amazed by the results!

 

5/1/2015

MAY 2015 UPDATE

April was yet again a busy month for continuous improvement. Earlier in the month, a team of twelve traveled from two regions to gather together in Columbus, OH to streamline and standardize the replacement of gas services. This “Rapid Improvement Event” was designed to make the installation process easier, faster and more consistent from one job to another. Successfully, the team uncovered a number of opportunities to increase efficiency and standardization. After the crew observations were performed in Columbus and Dayton, the team brainstormed many improvements including: introduction of standard work, a planning checklist and organizing the vans. These improvements, which should be in place by the end of May, will help crew performance by removing those extra steps which get in the way. The team
members included: 
Andrew Nichols, Casey Staylor, Don Campbell, Jerry Jesse, Jim Wilson, London Eaton, Mark Adkins, Monty Webb, Robert Anstead, Rusty Marcha, Scott Miller and Vincent Abamonga. 

Another “Rapid Improvement Event” was held in Indianapolis focusing on the monthly closing and accrual process. A team of ten Miller employees came together to determine how to make the ‘end of month closing process’ smoother by being more efficient with less time spent chasing information, correcting information entered incorrectly, and performing manual and time consuming analyses. This team spent three days reviewing our current state, identifying the areas in need of improvement, and coming up with a list of actions to eliminate waste, and standardize the process. The team brainstormed to come up with some great ideas including: additional training for supervisors and managers on accrual terminology, more automation in reporting and reports designed to provide the necessary information only, nothing more – resulting in less time wading through excess data. This Rapid Improvement Event team included: Bill Covell, Brian Dollinger, Frank Bracht, Jeff Sheffield, Justin Sanchez, Samantha Tidd, Scott Miller, Steve Kovecsi, Tiffany Cooper and Tom Werner. Thanks to everyone for their hard work and participation in April and coming up with a better process for all!


4/1/2015

APRIL 2015 UPDATE

March was a busy month for the Continuous Improvement department. Twenty Miller Pipeline employees participated in the first ever Continuous Improvement Green Belt class, spending three and a half days learning about lean concepts such as how to identify and reduce waste, improve efficiency and facilitate effective teamwork. The Green Belt class team included Mark Mayfield, Adam Stevens, Frank Bracht, Craig Swarm, Scott Miller, Blake Hollingsworth, Mike Whaley, Danny Boswell, Megan Miller, Chad Davis, Samantha Tidd, Greg Lindholm, Tom Werner, Jim Wilson, Dan Cansdale, Lloyd Woodall, Robert Anstead, Brent Berneking, Chad Smith and Dave Tucker. These inaugural “green belts” will lead the way as Miller Pipeline continues to integrate the cycle of Plan, Do, Check and Adjust into daily work processes. They will also assist in facilitation of lean initiatives in their own areas/regions. The Continuous Improvement department is excited to be able to train our employees on the fundamentals of lean and we expect to offer another class later this year.

Also, the Continuous Improvement team is working with area leaders to improve and standardize our equipment rental process, upgrade/enhance our foreman computers in the field and streamline the on-boarding process with the Human Resources Department. Check back for updates on these improvements next month.  

 

3/4/2015

MARCH 2015 UPDATE

IMPROVING CONTRACTOR/UTILITY RELATIONSHIPS

Our Plan, Do, Check and Adjust (PDCA) cycle applies to all areas of the business including how the work is performed in the field and our relationships with our customers. Recently the CI team has been working alongside a team from Ernst & Young to identify opportunities to improve coordination with our customers from job planning through execution. We have conducted a number of interviews with folks in operations, finance, compliance and management to determine which opportunities will have the highest benefit and the lowest effort to implement resulting in better safety, quality and productivity. Along with the team from Miller, there is also a team from Vectren prioritizing their own list of improvements. We will collaborate with both organizations to tackle those ideas that will have the greatest benefit across both companies. Look for targeted improvement initiatives to include things like documentation and data flow, more coordination during the planning stages, and making it easier for the end-use customer to access information during a replacement project.

A quick update on other ongoing projects: the pre-job folder that our east region team designed in December will be rolled out this month to crews. We are excited to receive some feedback from those foremen and supervisors who are among the first to follow the new process. Additionally, our contract training is progressing in the Columbia Gas of VA territory, with more than one third of the foremen and supervisors trained so far with more scheduled. We have received positive feedback on the training, and will begin to train our back office staff in the coming weeks.

On the horizon, we are planning a Kaizen event in March to improve the monthly accrual process for the east region. This will involve a number of folks from our accounting and operations groups coming together to define the current process, identify waste, and build a better process for the future. More information to follow!

 

2/4/2015

FEBRUARY 2015 UPDATE 

The continuous improvement cycle of Plan, Do, Check and Adjust (PDCA) applies to every job at Miller Pipeline; we must remember to plan our work, do the job right, check the results and adjust/improve our approach for next time. Following the PDCA cycle starts with a good plan. Have you ever arrived at a job site and not had the required tools, materials, people or equipment to perform your work? This happens a lot in our company; and some folks in the east region are working to improve their pre-job plan. Their goal is to make it easier and more effective, allowing them to focus on their job immediately upon arrival at the job site. This means less time searching for tools, making multiple trips to the yard for materials, or waiting for equipment to be delivered. For three days in December, thirteen of our field employees (foremen, supervisors, managers, and vice president) from the east region spent time designing a new approach to the pre-job plan, utilizing a paper folder with a check sheet for the foremen and supervisors to review prior to the work being performed. This will ensure that the materials are ready, utilities are marked and customers have been notified prior to the work beginning. We hope to have the new process in place by the middle of February.

The team involved in this project included: Tom Werner (the project lead), Ned Oxenrider, Greg Ritzick, Keith Tench, Jeff Anderson, Donald Taylor, Frank Lasky, Dan Foppiano, Justin Bryant, Brian Dollinger, Chad Smith, Frank Bracht and Scott Miller.

 

1/8/2015

JANUARY 2015 UPDATE 

Improvements to the Contract Training Process for Foremen and Supervisors

Our team is working to implement some improvements related to our contract training process for foremen and supervisors. We recognize that many managers, supervisors and foremen often don’t understand our customer contracts as they relate to pay units, scope of work, and customer standards. This can lead to issues in performance, productivity and safety in the field and our back office.

To help reduce wasted time and effort chasing information, entering the wrong data, or spending time on tasks which aren’t value-added, we assembled a team to participate in our first Rapid Improvement Event, as a company. A Rapid Improvement Event is a three to four day event where a team of functional leaders and front line employees gather together to solve a problem and improve our operations right away.

We spent three days documenting our current state, determining what is most important to our customers, and outlining the major components to an effective training system: 1.) a standard approach to training (who trains whom, and when); 2.) standard training materials, allowing the folks in the field and back office to find the information they need quickly, and in a standard fashion from one customer to the next; 3.) a way to track our results, and determine if the training is effective, and 4.) a report to show any correlation between contract training and crew performance.

Over the next few months, you may be invited to participate in a contract training session to learn about the terms of our service contracts, and how they apply to your job. We will welcome any feedback on these sessions, as we strive to make them more effective for everyone into 2015.

 

12/2/14

DECEMBER UPDATE

Our efforts to reduce waste, and streamline our work continues:
1. For three days in November, sixteen Miller Pipeline employees, from company leadership to front line workers, strategized a plan to improve our construction process. We documented the “current state” process with at least 40 hand offs and 50 process steps. Our goal over the next six months is to reduce the number of process steps to less than 30
through a number of targeted initiatives. Those initiatives include: contract training for foremen and supervisors, developing standard work (written work instructions and processes that are consistent from one employee to the next) and increasing the visual management on the job site.
2. Also, the process of working with subcontractors is improving. By adding a pre-qualification step of making sure the subcontractor can meet minimum safety and financial standards, this will take out some of the ‘guess work’ in working with new subcontractors, but also help to reduce risk for the company.
3. Many have participated in the 5S challenge but keep those submissions coming. Email your before and after pictures of your 5S’d truck to 5struckchallenge@millerpipeline.com.

 

11/1/14

NOVEMBER UPDATE

There is still time to show your Miller Pipeline pride by cleaning and sorting your truck and its contents for the 5S Truck Challenge. As a reminder, the 5S’s stand for Sorting, Shine, Set things in order, Standardize and Sustain.

1. Begin by SORTING out all of the trash and unused materials and tools.
2. Next, SHINE up your ride! Clean all of the dirt from the inside and outside, and put a fresh coat of wax on it if it needs it.
3. Then, SET THINGS IN ORDER. Organize the inside, and the tool box to make sure those items you use often are in easy reach.
4. The fourth step is to STANDARDIZE the way tools and materials are stored. Label your bins and compartments, and put things in the same place every time, so they’re easy to find.
5. The most important step is to SUSTAIN the work you did. Set aside one day per week to do a quick clean-up of your vehicle, and follow your new system to keep it looking sharp year round. Miller will pay you for the time spent 5S-ing your vehicle on a rain day. Send your before and after photos to the email below:
5Struckchallenge@millerpipeline.com.


10/3/14

OCTOBER UPDATE 

Miller Pipeline is already one of the largest contractors of pipeline construction in the nation. We are only going to keep growing, and as such, we need to make sure our customers are satisfied and receiving the best service available for their money. Utilizing the concept of Lean Principles and the mentality of continuous improvement will help get us there.

 

VAS_Process.jpg

WHAT IS CHANGING?
We are focusing our efforts for improvement initiatives, with a Value Stream Analysis of the construction process - beginning with our East Region operations. This “VSA” will uncover the wasted, unnecessary activity existing in the current process. We will then dedicate the appropriate resources to find ways to eliminate the waste through Kaizen events (Japanese for “quick change.”)

WHAT DOES THIS ‘VALUE STREAM ANALYSIS’ MEAN?
We will spend some time uncovering examples of unnecessary time, inventory, motion, waiting and defects within daily operations. We know we won’t find it all, but continuous improvement is about finding the waste you can identify, then find a way to eliminate it (or at least reduce it.) It takes time.
 
HOW WILL THIS IMPACT ME?
You may be asked to participate on a Kaizen event team in the near future. You can stay up to date with developments by checking out the Continuous Improvement page of the Miller Hub.

As we uncover how to improve our East Region operations, we will communicate what is learned in hopes that other regions will also benefit. Stay tuned for more updates!

 

5S TRUCK CHALLENGE

As the cold, rainy months of October and November quickly approach, all crews are encouraged to take advantage of rain days by performing a mini-5S on company trucks and vans.


1. Begin by SORTING out all of the trash, unused materials and tools.

2. Next, SHINE up your ride! Clean all of the dirt from the inside and outside, and apply a fresh coat of wax if needed.

3. Then, SET THINGS IN ORDER. Organize the inside, and the tool box to make sure those items you use often are within easy reach.

4. The fourth step is to STANDARDIZE the way tools and materials are stored. Label your bins and compartments, and put things in the same place every time, so they’re easy to find.

5. The most important step is to SUSTAIN the work you did. Set aside one day per week to do a quick clean-up of your vehicle, and follow your new system to keep it looking sharp year round.

The goal is to have every company vehicle 5S’d and detailed before the end of the year. This will help drive a high-performance, efficient and organized work place we, as a company, are seeking, no matter where our crews are working. In order to accomplish this goal, individuals will be paid for the time spent 5S-ing vehicles on rain days. Each time a van or truck 5S has been completed, send the continuous improvement team before and after photos (inside and outside) for an opportunity to win a gift card. There will be a random drawing for one winner from each region/area. More information can be found on the Continuous Improvement web page.

Send photos to: 5Struckchallenge@millerpipeline.com


5S_truck_remodel.jpg

 

9/2/14 

SEPTEMBER UPDATE 

5S activity continues with an efficiency overhaul of our sewer camera rigs. So far, seventeen of the 25 trailers have been completed, with the goal to reach the rest by the end of the year. Each trailer is delivered to the Columbus, OH office where it is completely stripped out (SORT), and cameras and cables are thoroughly cleaned and repaired if necessary (SHINE). Next, the trailer is set up with a more efficient layout, all shelves and bins are labeled, and each crew is appropriated tools for any job they could encounter (SET IN ORDER). The last step is making sure protocols and checklists are put in place to STANDARDIZE and SUSTAIN the improvements. The entire process takes around three full days. A big THANK YOU to: Russ Ibold, Chad Lowe, Scott Sherriff, Beeman Morrison, Darryl Rooker and John Norton. Without your help, we wouldn’t have such an organized fleet of equipment, of which we can all be very proud!

PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

BEFORE AFTER
 5S_pic_before.jpg  5S_pic_after.jpg

 

 

7/29/14

Kalkaska Warehouse 5S Event

  • Three and a half days (7/8 -- 7/11)
  • Eleven participants trained on 5S principles
  • Focus on four areas in Kalkaska (warehouse, training area, material storage, welding shop)
  • One common goal: to reduce waste and organize the Kalkaska work area thereby increasing efficiency for warehouse and field personnel

PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

BEFORE AFTER
 kalbefore1.jpg  kalafter1.jpg

 

Click here to see more photos and details of the final reveal!

 

7/1/14

JULY UPDATE

Continuous Improvement efforts continue throughout the organization. Over the past month, we have been busy in a
number of areas:

1. Requesting and performing equipment maintenance and repair: reduced four processes to one standard process.

2. We continue to evaluate how the tool vans are used, with a goal to reduce maintenance costs, increase efficiency and reduce accidents and injuries as more of them come up for replacement.

3. An effort is underway to streamline the way data is entered and pulled from WINS; with a team in Ohio working to improve the billing process for a large customer, and reduce the number of errors in reconciliation of customer payments.

4. We also have a 5S event planned in Kalkaska, Michigan during the month of July. Stay tuned for pictures and a full update on this exciting improvement effort.

Megan Miller recently joined the Continuous Improvement team as a Process Improvement Analyst. She brings experience refining back office processes, a general working knowledge of the business and a desire to improve the way we operate. She was instrumental in developing a sustainable process for invoicing some of our east coast customers. We are excited to have her on the team! 

 

6/1/14

JUNE UPDATE

In May, we implemented a new process by which new contracts will be entered into WINS, reducing the number of process steps from 20 to 14, and naming one process owner to oversee the gathering of contract data. Additionally, a number of folks have been busy gathering input from crews in Greenville, SC and Hilliard, OH to improve the set up of our current box van support vehicle. We also plan to visit PA, MI and IN.

 

5/1/14

MAY UPDATE

Miller employees continue to make positive improvements to eliminate waste and streamline the way we do business. In April, improvements were made to standardize three billing processes into one in Ohioincrease communication and job tracking ability related to quotation and billing in New Jersey, and eliminate two unnecessary report tasks in the equipment repair area in Indiana. More progress expected soon in the areas of equipment rental and maintenance.

 

3/19/14

Baltimore Warehouse 5S Event

  • Three days (3/11 -- 3/13)
  • Fourteen participants trained on 5S principles
  • Focus on two areas in Baltimore (warehouse and storeroom)
  • One common goal: to reduce waste and organize the Baltimore work area thereby increasing efficiency for warehouse and field personnel

PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

BEFORE AFTER
 Baltimore1.jpg  Baltimore2.jpg

Click here to see more photos and details of the final reveal!

Location: > > > Continuous Improvement