Brad Foote Gear Works
Order visibility to Brad Foote’s materials and manufacturing departments often stretched to as many as 40 days, causing on-time delivery performance to suffer and hindering the company’s ability to grow its industrial parts business.
Following interviews with the project’s core team, IMEC prepared a current state map detailing upfront processes and conducted a brainstorming session to identify opportunities for improvement. This gap assessment process revealed a lack of standardized administrative processes, under-utilization of the TCM system, too much duplication of effort and too many individual workarounds-all of which were consuming time needed by operations to meet customer deadlines. With this information in hand, IMEC created a future state map and a list of action items that Brad Foote set to work executing immediately.
- Order visibility for repeat customers reduced from 14-40 days to 2 days
- Lead time for new customer orders shortened to 2 weeks
- On-time delivery improved from 30% to 70%-90% in some product lines
- Significant increases in sales and bottom-line results expected
Cicero Manufacturer Gears Up To Enhance Lead Time And On-Time Delivery
When order visibility to Brad Foote Gear Works’ materials and manufacturing departments stretched to as many as 40 days, leaders at the Cicero-based company turned to IMEC for answers-resulting in dramatic improvements in lead time and on-time delivery.
A manufacturer of high-speed, intricate gearing for industrial applications, Brad Foote is a leading supplier to the energy market. At one time, production of large gear boxes accounted for a majority of the company’s business, but that’s declined in recent years due to off-shoring. Today, Brad Foote is focused on growing its industrial parts business-and one key factor in doing so is shrinking the amount of time it takes for a customer order to reach the manufacturing floor.
“We started with the front-end processes, since that’s the fuel that feeds the engine,” says Materials Manager Eric Wilkey. “We looked at everything from the time a customer order comes in, through purchasing, to the moment it arrives on the manufacturing floor.”
After creating his own informal value stream map, Wilkey brought in IMEC to formalize the process. IMEC interviewed the project’s core team-which included representatives from engineering, purchasing, sales and production activity control-then prepared a current state map detailing upfront processes and conducted a brainstorming session to identify opportunities for improvement. Through this gap assessment process, IMEC and Brad Foote uncovered a lack of standardized administrative processes, under-utilization of the TCM system, too much duplication of effort and too many individual workarounds-all of which were consuming time needed by operations to meet customer deadlines.
With this information in hand, IMEC helped Wilkey and Brad Foote create a future state map and a list of action items that the company set to work executing immediately.
“We’ve implemented all our action items and have even begun taking a few to the next level. This process has really helped foster people’s ideas on how to improve what we’ve already started,” Wilkey says. “Not one of our team members had ever been through a value stream mapping exercise before. They all walked away with a lot of confidence in their abilities and the knowledge that we all have more to learn.”
The results so far have been impressive. For repeat customers, who make up about 95 percent of Brad Foote’s business, order visibility has shrunk from 14-40 days down to an average of just two. For new customer orders, which must go through a more time-consuming engineering and production review, employees know exactly how much time to allow for quoting, shortening the process to an average of two weeks.
Wilkey says on-time delivery has jumped from around 30 percent to approximately 70 percent as a result, with some product lines well into the 90 percent range-which should lead to significant increases in sales and bottom-line results. “As we improve our on-time delivery, business will grow. In fact, we’re already seeing some customers returning to us,” he says. “We still have work to do, but making these changes has enabled us to move forward with other improvement efforts.”
Wilkey believes IMEC’s hands-on experience in manufacturing environments was critical to Brad Foote’s success in this endeavor-and he says it’s a key reason the two organizations just embarked on another project together. “I was very pleased with IMEC’s level of understanding of manufacturing. They don’t just tell you a good story. They know what they’re doing.”
“I was very pleased with IMEC’s level of understanding of manufacturing. They don’t just tell you a good story. They know what they’re doing.”
– Eric Wilkey, Materials Manager