Homasote® is the oldest manufacturer of building products made from recycled materials in the U.S., and the only manufacturer of its kind in the Americas. The company is celebrating 102 years of manufacturing green products. Some of the most energy efficient, high performance LEED™ structures in the country are being built with Homasote® products in their floors, walls, roofs and walkways.
In addition to its green building products, Homasote’s Pak-Line® Division creates custom packaging from structural and non-abrasive Homasote® for shipping mechanical, electrical, and high-tech materials. Pak-Line® appeals to exporters whose destination countries now impose import restrictions on wooden and cardboard packaging for environmental or insect-prevention reasons.
Homasote® first turned to NJMEP in 1999 to assess their business and provide a management development program for them based on its results. The company needed to implement changes that would allow them to meet the product and service demands anticipated with the growing interest in green building products. Homasote also wanted to position itself as a leader in green products with certifications that would distinguish it from its competitors.
The initial program was geared to management development. Following that was Y2K Pilot Inventory, customer responsiveness training, equipment operating standards, and comprehensive ISO gap analysis was provided. Although Homasote made great strides in the production workplace organization, the general cleanliness of the plant and its preventive maintenance program, the company realized its workforce needed additional training. The staff required improvement in their cross training and specific industrial, hydraulic and electrical maintenance knowledge- including welding techniques. They also needed assistance in the administrative processes.
After a 9 years hiatus, NJMEP was re-engaged to assist in the new training and help prepare a grant to provide funding for it.
NJMEP conducted a comprehensive skills training program for Homasote’s maintenance group. The training provide new solutions to long-standing problems, more effective preventative maintenance, reduced maintenance and repair costs, improved morale due to improved confidence and improved administrative processes.
The outcome of the training was a fully cross-trained maintenance organization that is be able to respond to equipment breakdowns and repair them with minimum downtime as it was imperative that Homasote’s continuous process, which runs three shifts per day, would have limited interruptions. Greater efficiency in administrative functions was also realized.
With the implementation of the Homasote’s initial training programs the company realized a cost savings of $50,000 that was credited to having reduced lead times, work in process inventory, reducing its defect rate, and increasing its inventory turns.
The comprehensive skills and administrative training program for Homasote’s maintenance group produced great results. Peter Tindall, Vice President of Operations, shared his thoughts on how Homasote has benefited from the training, “Our employees have a sense of confidence when tackling equipment breakdowns. All the trainees are more enthused to tackle an issue and the training has actually inspired a ‘team’ feel as they have all participated in the training and have learned from each other. Our crews are better able to address the issues faster and with more confidence. The cross training has made it easier for various maintenance trades to work together.”
The training also helped reduce un-planned downtime, and improved teamwork. As a result of a common understanding gained in the maintenance courses, and cross sectional class of administrative lean, which improved efficiency and effectiveness of administrative functions within the organization.
Homasote’s most recent NIST survey, which reflected Homasote’s Maintainance and Administrative Lean Training project with NJMEP, indicated the company reported an increase in sales of $150,000, a cost savings of $9,000 and the addition of two new employees as a direct result of its efforts.
Homasote is committed to training its workforce. That commitment, and the success of its program, has resulted in being awarded an additional NJDOL grant to help fund its program.
“We are very appreciative for the assistance provided by NJMEP and the award of the DOL customized training grant. The hands-on instruction delivered was essential in providing us the opportunity to strengthen the skills of our workforce. This training has helped us to better support the increased volume levels realized through 2010-11, and strengthen our skills to support continued growth.” Peter Tindall, Vice President of Operations of Homasote Company
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