Versa Products Company, Inc., in business for over 60 years, manufactures a full line of air control valves, which are used in a wide range of industries, applications, and markets around the world. Versa’s products are used broadly where precise control is vital to an operation. Versa’s products withstand harsh environments and operating conditions. Market segments served include textile, wood, mobile, automotive, printing, tires, oil and gas drilling, process control to name a few. The company is headquartered in Paramus, NJ occupying 50,000 square feet and employing over one hundred and thirty full time employees. The company is ISO and ATEX Certified and holds many other international certifications including its recently acquired INMETRO accreditation. Versa’s long success can be traced directly to its commitment to producing a quality p that is designed to meet a wide array of needs. The company has established an operational environment where it is constantly challenging itself to continually improve all aspects of its business operation.
Versa’s Senior Management Team was familiar with Lean tools but struggled with implementing and sustaining Lean in a fast paced business environment. Versa’s Senior Management team attended the NJMEP Principles of Lean Manufacturing with Live Simulation Workshop and was impressed with the ideas presented and requested NJMEP’s assistance in pursuing additional Lean activities.
Versa, working closely with NJMEP and its resource Jeff Hartman of Capital Manufacturing Consultants (CMC), began the Lean transformation which would serve as a foundation to continually improve its operations. Hartman, working with a strong internal team, provided training and implementation assistance to the company that included; 5S , Work Cells, Pull/Kanban replenishment systems, Value Stream Mapping, Quick Change Over and as well as Kaizen Events. Lean reinforced the company’s strong cross training environment creating a flexible workforce that could quickly respond to varying production requirements in order to satisfy customers’ needs.
Versa ‘piloted’ Lean on its ‘C’ Line of valves and quickly recognized the value of the concepts when coupled with a well trained workforce. The ‘C’ Line incorporated Value Stream Mapping, Cellular work flow, Kanban replenishment systems and 5S workplace Organization.
As a result of the pilot on “C” Line and applying these and other Lean principles throughout the organization, Versa was able to:
- Effectively consolidate its 12,500 sq. ft. assembly floor to 8,500 sq. ft. creating free floor space for expansion.
- Establish internal and external Kanban replenishment systems. These have reduced WIP inventory, increased inventory turns and helped to meet fast turnaround times for customer orders.
- In the Assembly area, batch sizes were reduced enabling trained line workers to satisfy customer demands more quickly, to identify any quality problems early thus reducing waste.
- Average lead times were reduced from 12 days to 6 days from order acknowledgement to delivery.
- In the Machine Shop, the number of Set-Ups and the length of the Set-Ups were reduced while shrinking run quantities. This translates to a more responsive Machine Shop to support the rest of the organization.
Overall Lean has been a very good fit within the Versa organization. It provides a solid foundation and structure to the organization and its employees as they strive to continually improve their performance.
Ron Morgner, Versa’s Manufacturing Manager, reported, “NJMEP assisted us with a Lean Kaizen event on our “C” line. This project was very effective in helping us to reduce the square footage for this line by 30%; it also allowed us to reduce our work in process inventory by 50% and raise our on time delivery for this product line to 98%. The enthusiasm created in our organization has been remarkable. We could not have benefited from these concepts without the help of NJMEP. With vast resources, they have responded favorably to our every need. Therefore our company will continue to use the expertise of NJMEP for ongoing help and training to remain competitive in today’s marketplace,” Morgner added.
Implementing Lean concepts into Versa’s processes resulted in a cost savings due to improved efficiencies in material, labor, floor space and reduced WIP. In an economy where loss of sales is common, this significant savings enabled Versa to avoid any layoffs which was a real accomplishment during the recession of 2008-2010. These changes have not only improved Versa’s competitive position but have also created space and resources to introduce new products, which are the backbone of future growth and prosperity.