APW Mclean Robbinsville, located in Mercer County New Jersey, manufactures integrated thermal management products and is striving to improve its business operations to world-class competitiveness. McLean builds products for the telecommunication, computer and data communication markets. Their products include AC and DC motorized impellers, package blowers, fan assemblies, centrifugal blowers, and filter box fans for electronic systems. This 230-person company was founded in 1950, and has over 1,751,042,000 (1999) dollars in corporate (APW Applied Power) annual sales.
Greg Rees, Operations Leader of APW Mclean Robbinsville, was familiar with the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) through a previous work experience with Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center (DVIRC), the MEP for the Philadelphia area manufacturers. DVIRC referred Mclean to New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP).
Last September, NJMEP Field Agent, Jake Adams, and his counterpart from DVIRC, met with Mr. Rees and his staff. “We discussed the company’s need to reduce lead-time, improve on-time delivery performance and product quality,” explained Jake Adams.
One of McLean’s world-class strategies is to have all employees in the company participate in continuous improvement efforts. Through Mercer County Community College and DVIRC, Jake worked to implement the training exercises, which consisted of the Five Principles of Lean and the Eight Wastes in Manufacturing. The training integrated classroom lectures with a simulated factory, to reinforce the employees learning and retention. 163 employees participated in the training.
After the completion of the training, one department at a time will have a Kaizen Blitz event (Kaizen means continuous improvement). The Kaizen event is when you take the Lean concept and apply it in the factory. Employees in the DC Motorized Impeller cell (DCMI) were the first group to apply the concepts they learned.
A positive impact has already been seen at Mclean, in the DCMI cell, by applying the lean concept. The cycle time was reduced by 1400%. There was a 75% reduction in the storage of materials for work in progress, which led to an 8% reduction of distance traveled. With less material on the floor, they were able to move the workstations closer together reducing the distance traveled. The rate in which employees process the material through the plant improved by 213% and they were 54% more productive.
The labor savings, over a six-month period, has been approximately $54,000 in the DCMI production alone. The remainder of the departments will have a Kaizen event during 2000, which will yield savings in other cells.