Voltaix is a North Branch, New Jersey manufacturer of high purity specialty gases and chemicals for emerging applications related primarily to electronic and photonic devices. Founded in 1986 by John de Neufville, Ph.D., the company has developed proprietary gas manufacturing capabilities and an array of products that are used in chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and ion implantation processes to enhance the performance of silicon-based semiconductor devices such as computer chips and solar cells.
The rapidly growing company has over 40 employees. Voltaix develops new products through collaboration with customers, and sells them either directly or through major international electronic gas distributors.
Voltaix and NJMEP were introduced through Raritan Valley Community College, an NJMEP partner, when the company was seeking assistance in the areas of process and continuous improvement. The project began in January 2005 with an Introduction to Lean Manufacturing Workshop with simulation, led by NJMEP. An on-site Lean 101 program was undertaken next, followed by a 5S kaizen event led by third-party resource MRC (Manufacturer’s Resource Center).
During the improvement project’s two-month duration, approximately 25 Voltaix employees participated in various capacities. NJMEP field agents provided Lean Manufacturing education and worked with RVCC (Raritan Valley Community College) to write Lean programs into the company’s grant. The field agents also worked with Voltaix on scheduling and logistics concerns; delivered the Lean 101 Workshop; qualified MRC and co-piloted the 5S program with them; and introduced MRC at the 5S kickoff. NJMEP also monitored MRC’s effectiveness during the project, which concluded in March 2005.
Voltaix expects that the 5S program, when fully implemented, will enable the company to achieve several important goals, including reducing inventory levels; significantly improving workplace organization; increasing workplace safety; and elevating the level of customer service and throughput. Anticipated cost savings and sales growth are in the $100k range for the first stage.
The next step will be the full implementation of 5S. Voltaix plans to continue working toward ongoing improvement and a Lean environment.
“The training provides our employees with a tool kit that will help our continuous improvement teams improve quality and reduce lead times,” assessed Matthew D. Stephens, PhD., Voltaix’s Chief Operating Officer. “To our customers,” he continued, “this means improved responsiveness. Further, Lean Manufacturing techniques lead to streamlined processes which are safer to operate,” Dr. Stephens concluded.