Client Results

Case Study - Sonoco


The Company

Sonoco’s Consumer Products division produces composite cans, flexible packaging, metal and plastic ends and closures, folding cartons and coasters and glass covers. It also provides packaging services, point-of- purchase displays and graphics management to its customers, consumer product companies. Sonoco’s Consumer Products division accounts for approximately 45 percent of the Company’s total annual sales. Its products are found in a variety of food markets – snacks, nuts, confectionery, frozen concentrate, powdered beverage and infant formula, and liquid beverage and coffee – and nonfood markets including pet food, adhesives, caulks, powdered and tabbed cleansers, automotive home and personal care and supermarkets. Sonoco is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-performance round and shaped composite cans.

The Challenge

Sonoco’s Consumer Products group has launched a robust program to reduce process and product variability in its plants through Six Sigma processes. However, Sonoco knew that gains resulting from Six Sigma interventions must be sustained over the long run and that finding the cause of special cause variation was critical. Empowering employees at every level with improved problem-solving, problem-prevention, opportunity- improvement and decision-making skills was critical to the Company’s effort.

The Solution

“We chose the ASG Critical Thinking Skills process,” said Jeff Green, Operations Manager at Sonoco’s Hanover, Pa., composite can plant, “because its problem-solving processes were a perfect fit with what we are trying to accomplish through our continuous improvement efforts. The processes are easy to master, relevant to our operations and easily tailored to fit our unique environment. ASG’s principals know Sonoco and have extensive experience in the consumer packaging industry. They’re responsive to our needs and focus on providing real value and top-notch customer service. ASG is a winning proposition for Sonoco.”


One particular plant experienced a lacquer problem on a finished product causing extreme downtime on a line that runs 24/7 and provides significant revenue for the plant. Trained personnel vigorously attacked the problem using the Systematic Trouble Shooting process. The cause was found in three days of hard analysis work and fixes implemented. The plant measured production and the gains were significant. All shifts not only reached budgeted goals, but exceeded the goals - a 10% improvement in throughput in just three days. Customer demand is above plant capacity so all gains translate into increased sales. The effects of the problem solving effort will result in an additional 3.5 million units in output and a $350,000 increase in sales.

In another plant a machine that produces printed labels for customer packaging was running 35% below budgeted speeds a had been plaguing the plant for months. Using the Systematic Trouble Shooting process the plant got everybody’s ideas out on the table, found the root cause and implemented a fix in just four days, spending less than $500, increasing production to within 5% of the budgeted speed.