The core of process improvement is to close gaps in performance, recognize existing problems that impact quality, and remove any activities that do not add value. Many different tools exist under the process improvement umbrella that all manufacturers have the opportunity to take advantage of. Utilizing one or two of the existing process improvement tools in today’s manufacturing industry is a great way to start practicing continuous improvement. However, especially in today’s highly competitive global market, adopting one or two tools is not enough to come out on top.
Manufacturers who continuously strive to learn, adopt, and adapt to new techniques are the ones we see constantly scaling to great new heights. For example, manufacturers like Vehicle Safety Manufacturing (VSM) have found the path to optimal productivity, planning and creativity by constantly searching for new tools and techniques to take under their wing.
About the Company: Vehicle Safety Manufacturing (VSM), a division of Rostra Precision Controls, Inc., operating in Newark, New Jersey, is the largest manufacturer of heavy-duty turn signal switches in North America. The ISO certified company designed its manufacturing facilities to produce high quality products in the most efficient & economical manner. Employing a top-notch engineering staff, the company utilizes state of the art equipment and operates a tough quality control department to assure that it’s VSM products are engineered and built to the most exacting of standards and meet or exceed all DOT and SAE requirements (when used as recommended.)
Challenges: In 2015, VSM acquired the turn signal switch product line from Grote Industries, Inc. in Madison, Indiana and the assets and manufacturing lines were relocated to its Newark plant. Due to the relocation, VSM wanted to take advantage and utilize the change as an opportunity to lower costs and improve efficiency even more in order to sustain and improve their competitiveness. Having worked with NJMEP to implement Lean and ISO in the past, VSM once again worked with them to streamline the plant.
Solution: In order to achieve factory flow improvements, NJMEP recommended using Lean tools and techniques. In efforts to minimize training costs, NJMEP also suggested applying for a Skills4Jersey Grant to enable VSM to meet their objectives in year 1. After being granted the funding, NJMEP’s resources worked with VSM to educate its production workers and managers in Value Stream Mapping, Set up Reduction/Quick Change, Cellular Flow, Production Pull/Kanban, Project Management, ISO Quality System and English as a Second Language.
Results: As a result of partnering with NJMEP, VSM was able to:
- Increased sales $150,000
- Created 21 jobs and promoted 5 employees
- Achieved a cost saving of $35,000
- Invested $250,000 in new processes and products
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