Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, TSS Technologies is a third-generation contract machining and assembly facility with 220 employees. The company specializes in broad contract machining services; production assembly; capital equipment assembly; installation; service; mechanical and electrical design services; programming; process and value engineering services; warehousing and logistics and complete test and validation services.
Bob Queen, Lean/Continuous Improvement Manager, Plant One at TSS Technologies, recently discussed the company's involvement in GLWN's Lean Mastery Program and the positive outcomes that came from participation.
Q: What was your overall impression of GLWN's Lean Mastery Program?
A: The Lean Mastery Program was Class "A." I was very impressed with Brian Furlong, his expertise and ability to take a company's particular situation and apply the tools needed to become effective. He's an expert.
Q: What prompted TSS Technologies to enroll in the program?
A: We've been on a Lean journey for a while and have struggled with getting people in front of Lean and getting more people talking about it. We started conversations with Dee Holody who mentioned that there was State money available. We thought it presented a great opportunity.
We offered it to our manufacturing, engineering and quality departments and got four people enrolled. We wanted to get them in front of a Lean expert, and the fact that the program was off-site helped. The folks could focus on the program and not be engrained in day-to-day activities at the plant.
Our main concern was, "are we doing things that are wasteful?" We wanted to streamline the process and add value to the product. The Value Stream Mapping process played a big role in answering that question.
Q: Are there any key elements from the program that you've been able to incorporate into your business?
A: We've been on a Lean journey since late 2007. We had implemented a 5S organization process and were looking at Value Stream Mapping, Kaizen events and tooling cost reductions. We conducted three main projects including two Kaizen events that studied the IRB (internal review board) process, looking for a 50% reduction on turnaround in that area (reducing the process to seven days from 15-17 days).
The program also helped us review and improve the manner in which we engineer special process instructions involved with customer change orders. Our goal was to study the improvement processes in getting information to the floor and eliminating questions on the floor.
And just recently, TSS implemented a Value Stream Mapping project that looked at the high level process of receipt of purchase order from the customer through the receipt of payment. We compared the current state of the entire process to the future state. Since we're a complex machine house working with large components, we utilized a Kaizen event to attain a 35% reduction in turnaround time from purchase order to payment. We were looking for significant improvement to reduce the planning and activity time -- which required examination of machining operations and outside service operations -- prior to going to the manufacturing floor, and reduced this process from 20 days down to just nine days.
The training helped the company reduce the average time from receipt of purchase order to receipt of payment from 142 days down to 123 days. That's a significant improvement.
We had 45 action items on the plan. Our thinking was that if we could plan better up front, we should have significantly better return when we hit the manufacturing floor. The employees on the manufacturing floor are very excited about this. They see better planning and better support from the management level.
Q: Has the program helped your company?
A: It's definitely helped.
First, our management team was able to be exposed to the main Lean tools. We also were able to enroll four employees in the program.
Lean is a mindset. It gets you thinking about the day-to-day approach to work and the project management process.
Through continuous improvement, we're really securing our future. If we can improve the process, we will become the manufacturer of choice for quick turnaround. Like everyone else, we had a rough time in 2009-2010. This has become an investment in the future. Upper management is in total support and is investing in the company and its people. They've made a commitment to secure the business.
Q: Any other comments regarding the Lean Mastery Program?
A: The key is being able to adapt to the constant changes in the market. "Class A" training programs like this bring many benefits to the company's operations. Any time you can get this training and get the State's support, you should take advantage of it.