Lean definitely works and OMEP has helped tremendously. With its help on the production side, it does make more time available for other issues.
American Easel evaluated their previous plan and started to revisit areas that needed attention. Partnering with the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP), a NIST MEP affiliate, they efficiently evaluated current state production through Value stream mapping & linearity charts. Their key areas of improvement included restoring a Kanban system for maintaining inventory and improving their pull practices. Additionally, they trained all employees in the importance of maintaining a balanced line and standard work. These alterations helped to better facilitate flow through American Easel’s manufacturing process, and smooth out variations in labor for the large and small panels.
During this re-implementation and training of lean manufacturing practices, OMEP and American Easel were able to reestablish a number of standardized processes across multiple product categories, which helped them stay on track with growth goals. American Easel saw a reduction in labor costs, resulting in a savings of $32,760. Production capacity increased, leading to new sales of $165,000 in addition to their current $1.1 million in sales. American Easel has successfully implemented lean practices to build on its success. This time, with longevity of practice in mind.