Successes in Operations

Spartan Light Metal Products Inc.

Situation

As customers continue to demand higher quality and lower prices, Spartan Light Metal Products consistently stays ahead of the curve using innovative methods to solve the customer’s problem and ensure as-ordered products and on-time delivery. To help reduce potential competition Spartan knew it was time to make imperative lean improvements including optimization of cell design and layout and reduction in set-up time for machines. Spartan engaged IMEC for continuous improvement activities to optimize the existing manufacturing operations and initiate a training program for the staff, as well as create an efficiency plan for a new manufacturing line.

IMEC Solution

The Spartan team worked with IMEC to identify the cell design and layout issues to be addressed to reduce set-up time on a specific machine. With the multitude of training initiatives planned for the Spartan employees, IMEC engaged the local Mid-America Workforce Investment Board to help offset training costs to make the overall implementation more feasible for the company. IMEC led the cross-functional team of employees through a series of continuous improvement training sessions including the Lean 101, Value Stream Mapping, Total Productive Maintenance, Pull/Kanban and Quick Changeover/Set-up Reduction, which gave them the capabilities and strategic direction to plan and implement the new machine line.

“The training gave our team the opportunity to look at common assistance for external set-up time on the targeted machine as well as others slated for the new manufacturing line,” said Glenn Dunbar, Human Resources Manager. “With a new employee focused on lean, and the motivation of our engineering team on the floor, we can apply the same principles going forward and really keep the team and initiatives on track.” The Spartan Light Metal Products team has already begun to see results from the initial machine changeover improvements and with little additional equipment invested, six additional business improvement teams have since implemented the same process and will be seeing results soon.

Results

  • Anticipated job creation for 36 new employees
  • Estimated $50,000 in retained sales per year
  • Reduced machine set-up time from 4.1 to 1.9 hours bi-weekly on one machine
  • Identification of additional lean implementation tactics

Southwest Illinois Manufacturer Re-Focuses Efficiency on Customer Needs

When three of the world’s largest automotive OEM’s requested an improvement to service, quality and pricing for a selection of components, an efficiency strategy quickly became top focus for one southwestern Illinois manufacturer of aluminum and magnesium custom die castings.

For more than fifty years, Spartan Light Metal Products has been an industry leader with a reputation of excellence for quality, service and value. “The customer is priority number one,” said Glenn Dunbar, Human Resource Manager for Spartan Light Metal Products. “But the customers are more demanding than ever and our competition is stiff. We must stay focused on continuous improvement to maintain our position as an industry leader and keep our future secure.” To help reduce potential competition, Spartan stays ahead of the curve using innovative methods to solve the customer’s problem and ensure consistent product quality and on-time delivery.

With imperative lean improvements and training to be completed, the Spartan Light Metal Products team engaged IMEC for continuous improvement activities to optimize existing manufacturing operations as well as create an efficiency plan for a new manufacturing line.

The Spartan team worked with IMEC to identify the cell design and layout issues to be addressed in order to reduce set-up time on one particular machine. With the multitude of training initiatives on the plan for the Spartan employees, IMEC engaged the local Mid-America Workforce Investment Board to help offset training costs to make the overall implementation more feasible for the company.

IMEC led the cross-functional team of employees through a series of continuous improvement training sessions including the Lean Manufacturing Overview and Simulation, Value Stream Mapping, Total Productive Maintenance, Pull/Kanban and Quick Changeover/Set-up Reduction, which gave them the strategic direction and capabilities to plan and implement the new machine line.

“The training gave our team the opportunity look at common assistance for external set-up time on the targeted machine as well as others slated for the new manufacturing line,” said Dunbar. “The addition of a new lean champion to our corporate support team, and the focused efforts of our operations and engineering teams on the floor, we can apply the same principles going forward and really keep the team and initiatives on track.”

In addition to the dollar savings the company will see from the updates, Dunbar has also seen a positive response from employees on the improved changeover process. “It hasn’t been difficult to obtain buy-in from the production team for the lean improvements and training. Eliminating time wasted during machine turns just makes sense.”

Through the manufacturing cell development initiative and implementation of lean tools, the Spartan team focused on reduction of set-up time on a key machine and quickly saw results. Moving from 4.1 to 1.9 hours on a changeover every other week will net an estimated payback of nearly $5,000 annually on just one machine. With very little equipment invested up front, six additional business improvement teams have since implemented the same process and are hopeful to see the benefits very soon.

Retaining three of the company’s largest customers and upwards of $50,000 in retained annual sales has been a big “win” for the organization. Spartan has also initiated several new projects under the continuous improvement and training umbrella and look forward to future work with IMEC. “I would recommend IMEC to anyone looking to improve their lean initiatives,” said Glenn Dunbar. “The IMEC team is very knowledgeable and easy to work with. The instructors speak to our employees on their level and that helps with engagement; very popular with our people.”

Spartan Light Metal Products

Spartan Light Metal Products Inc.

425 Employees

Sparta, Illinois

“I would recommend IMEC to anyone looking to improve their lean initiatives. The IMEC team is very knowledgeable and easy to work with. The instructors speak to our employees on their level and that helps with engagement; very popular with our people.”

 

– Glenn Dunbar, Human Resources Manager

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