As we’ve previously mentioned, Estes recently added 35,000 square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate growth of our business. The first cell set-up in this new space was for medical production. This medical cell includes a laser, deburring machine, edge-rounding machine, press brake, assembly equipment, and an inspection hub.
This new medical cell puts additional emphasis on Estes’ commitment to cellular manufacturing and lean initiatives to produce better more cost-effective products. Below are examples of the steps Estes has taken to focus on lean initiatives:
- Contracted a company, Ro12 Enterprises, to create a strategy focused on lean initiatives and cellular manufacturing
- Provided ongoing training to over 40 employees focused on waste versus value-added activities in the manufacturing process
- Hosting of Kaizen events on a recurring basis to drive continuous improvement
- Redesigning manufacturing layouts and processes toward cellular manufacturing (see characteristics below)
- One-piece flow
- Machines in order of process
- Small, inexpensive and dedicated equipment
- Multi-process handling workers
- Easy moving/standing operations
- Production paced to task time
- Pull production
- Standard operations defined
- Short lead time
- High ration of VA to NVA
Why Estes believes in pursuing lean manufacturing:
- It places an emphasis on the product (or service) we provide to the customer as the purpose of our company.
- All other activities are not the purpose.
- It sets a mindset that a perfect product is possible.
- It focuses on the fact that customers can have exactly what they want, when they want it, at competitive prices.
- It emphasizes that all buffers are waste – extra time, space, inventory, people, tools, etc.
- It stresses that indirect activities should be eliminated as they do not add value to the part, for which the customer is paying.
- It dictates that improvement is always both possible and necessary, through Kaizen.
- It empowers and challenges employees to continuously improve and eliminate waste rather than just put in their time.
- It underscores that all relationships are long term – employee, supplier, distributor, owner and especially customer.
What does this mean for you, the customer?
- Reduced lead-times
- Improved quality
- Competitive pricing
- Consistent, on-time delivery