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Small Manufacturer Emerges More Efficient After Lean Training


C&N Manufacturing located in Boyd, Wisconsin, was established in 1987. The company employs 40 people making summer camp trunks, camping accessories and clothing, foot lockers, duffel bags, and trunk accessories.

The Challenge

The daily arrival of a FedEx driver to take away packaged orders should have been a good sign at C&N Manufacturing-- it meant products were in the pipeline. Business was good. To the trained manufacturing eye, however, there was a problem. The company, which makes storage trunks and sells about 800 products for thousands of children attending summer camps and for other users, was making the FedEx driver wait. And wait. The Everything Summer Camp orders that were supposed to be ready to ship end of the day often were not ready, especially during the busy season in the spring. The problem wasn't just packaging and shipping-- it went up the line, all the way to the production floor.
There's definitely a change in culture-- less control from management, and more control for employees to improve their processes. Lack of stress, knowing what tomorrow will look like, and having employees responsible for what their workday will look like made a huge difference. We're really starting to blur the lines between departments. Everybody is working together.
— Mark Sieglaff, Vice President

MEP's Role

When President Ed Holand and Sieglaff realized their system had flaws, Holand reached out to the Manufacturing Outreach Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, part of the MEP National Network™. "They wanted to make improvements, serve their customers and meet demands better but weren't quite sure where to start and what to address," said Ted Theyerl, SMOC senior management engineer.

Lean training, which identifies and eliminates various types of waste in the manufacturing process, began with C&N's trunk-makers. "[In one week,] after production employees attended a lean workshop and did a VSM on their process, the employees made changes to the layout of the production floor to balance the process times, limit work in process, improve the flow and agreed to cross-train and help each other out," Theyerl said.

Created July 30, 2020, Updated July 12, 2021