SPEX CertiPrep of Metuchen, New Jersey was founded in 1954. The company, which employs 50 people and generates annual sales of $10 million, produces sample preparation equipment and certified reference materials for analytical spectroscopy.
The SPEX Sample Preparation division uses a wide range of laboratory mills, presses, pellet dies, fusion fluxers, XRF sample cells, window films, PrepAid binders and grinding aids. The CertiPrep Certified Reference Materials (CRM) division manufactures proficiency testing environmental analysis products, including a selection of inorganic standards for AA, ICP, ICP/MS and IC, and organic standards for GC and GC/MS.
NJMEP and SPEX CertiPrep first communicated via an e-business survey. SPEX identified its business goals as development of new market segments and products; diversification, because of its presence in a mature market; establishment of worldwide distribution; employee retention; and customer retention, which was deemed primarily a pricing issue.
Managers, supervisors, assemblers, chemists, office personnel, marketing staff and production engineering employees attended a one-day public Introduction to Lean Manufacturing with Simulation session. Next, sales and marketing personnel participated in a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis/Facilitation conducted by an NJMEP field agent. This phase of the project comprised separate one-day meetings of the CRM and Sample Preparation Equipment divisions, and was followed up with the field agent’s recommendation report. Third, a three-day Value Stream Mapping project, including classroom discussions, was undertaken with all functional areas of the CRM division. Finally, NJIT graduate students prepared market studies in conjunction with the vice presidents of both SPEX divisions. Each study lasted one semester.
NJMEP was the primary resource for the Lean Workshop and SWOT Analysis. Tim Swanson of TSG Associates served as a third-party resource for the Value Stream Mapping project, and the NJIT Small Business Institute led the market studies.
By the company’s analysis, the Lean Manufacturing seminar helped SPEX employees to improve turnaround time and increase process efficiency. The SWOT Analysis armed the SPEX management team with valuable information regarding business and marketing plans. Value Stream Mapping led to a more visual approach to the production process, further improving turnaround time, while the Sample Preparation division found its market study to be very helpful.
Ultimately, SPEX was able to reduce production and shipping turnaround times while gaining valuable business planning information. Sales and Marketing Vice President Yvonne Cangelosi reported a $145,000 increase in sales; $89,000 in retained sales; $20,000 in cost savings; a $25,000 increase in investments; and a $5,000 increase in workforce investments.
SPEX is considering applying for a New Jersey Customized Training Grant through NJMEP. A “second phase” project is being planned to include additional Lean Manufacturing for the Sample Preparation Division. The first step of this phase will entail NJMEP conducting a Lean Opportunity Assessment.
“Lean Manufacturing was very beneficial to the CRM team,” assessed SPEX VP Cangelosi. “It taught us how to improve our manufacturing processes. The SWOT analysis was very useful in helping the sales and marketing managers write business and marketing plans,” she continued. “The Value Stream Mapping process was very detailed. We were not able to implement all of the process immediately, but we did make a number of changes that resulted in an improvement to our manufacturing process.
“Working with NJMEP allowed SPEX CertiPrep to attend a hands-on workshop about Lean Manufacturing that we have not known about or been able to afford,” Cangelosi explained. “We sent a large number of employees to this training, and we are starting to implement the process within the Sample Prep division. The CRM division is already using some Lean processes, and it is working for us.
“We hope to continue to work with NJMEP,” said the vice president. “The management team at SPEX CertiPrep are very interested in the training programs that NJMEP has to offer. I can see a number of the managers taking these courses.
“Working with NJMEP has really helped us learn more about our market and how to sell in that market,” Cangelosi concluded. “We also learned to do things better and faster.”
SPEX CertiPrep is a participant in NJMEP’s Made in New Jersey program. Click here to view their profile!