ITW Thielex of Somerset, NJ manufactures a wide range of protective shipping and handling packaging for electronics components, including PVC polygrade clear packaging and IC socket connectors; Plastiglide casters for furniture; and Maxigrip zippers for protective cover applications. The company, which has 68 employees and generates annual sales of $14 million, is part of Illinois Tool Works (ITW), which acquired Thielex in 1983.
Pat Musto of Tempil, another ITW COMPANY, introduced Thielex to NJMEP. At the time, Thielex was trying to resolve raw material management issues and address its shortage of facility space, both the results of assuming operations from other ITW plants following consolidation.
The NJMEP field agent teamed with third party resources Joe Pranzo of IKP Logistics and soft skills/computer trainer Maged Company to introduce Thielex’s management to the benefits of Lean manufacturing. Following a Lean/Training Needs Opportunity Assessment that identified the company’s specific needs, NJMEP helped Thielex to obtain a state training grant for Lean 101, computer training and education in other soft skills.
Additionally, the field agent managed the training project and coached the Thielex management team. Training encompassed all levels of employees, from management and supervisors to production workers and office staff. Internal groups were created to work with various Lean tools over the course of the twelve-month training program.
As a result of Lean training, Thielex has been able to upgrade its employees’ soft skills to increase performance levels and comply with regulations. These improved skills include computer and presentation skills, project management, quality training, time management and sexual harassment training.
In quantifiable terms, Thielex has been able to reduce its inventory of both raw materials and finished goods, and reduce batch size. Most significantly, the company has almost entirely eliminated its need to rent warehouse space to store raw materials while maintaining the flow of material to production. This major accomplishment translates into an estimated $120,000 annual cost savings in rent alone.
The next step for NJMEP and Thielex is to discuss some fee-based events. The company hopes to continue its Lean training with follow-up support work.
“NJMEP has been great in arranging this training for Thielex,” commented General Manager Henry Swain. “We are very grateful for their efforts.”