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Location:
 Boise, Idaho ­ Ada County
Project Area: Lean Manufacturing

Situation:
Kimball Manufacturing is a contract assembler of electronic and electro­-mechanical products for customers in the Northwest region of the United States. In 1999, Kimball took on a major new customer, which saw the company grow from 50 employees to 225 employees by mid­-2000. Straining under the heavy load of customer demand and rapidly outgrowing their production facility, Kimball recognized that there must be a better way to address their problems. The company had observed the positive results of a Lean Manufacturing implementation with one of its customers.

Solution:
TechHelp manufacturing specialists met with Kimball managers to assess the situation. This led to a multi­-stage project comprising Value Stream Mapping, Lean Manufacturing cell implementation, Work-­In­-Process (WIP) reduction, and plant layout. A team of Kimball and TechHelp members analyzed the current production control and manufacturing practices for the Kimball Box product, and then created a future vision for the Kimball Box operations, based on Lean Manufacturing. The central concept of the plan was creation of a manufacturing cell using continuous flow. For the Lean cell implementation, simpler vendor relationships meant reducing the number of vendors supplying product to the Kimball Box and establishing new ordering policies. With input from shop floor personnel, the team designed an efficient layout for both the printed circuit board and final assembly work cells. Visual work instructions for each step in the manufacturing process were also created.

Impact:
On the Kimball box line the company is now experiencing:

  • a 70% reduction in lead time.
  • a 67% increase in on-­time delivery.
  • a 90%+ reduction in WIP inventory levels.
  • a 250% increase in first pass yield quality.
  • a 70% reduction in customer returns due to poor quality.
  • a 70% reduction in travel distance.

Testimonial:

We were looking to streamline our manufacturing processes and decided to bring in TechHelp. In a just a matter of weeks they helped us turn one of our product lines into a lean cell ­ reducing lead time by 70%, WIP by 90% and dramatically improving first pass yield. The new way of doing things brought its share of employee problems, but TechHelp gave us further help in managing through the change to get all our people moving in the same direction.Jo Egbert, General Manager, Kimball Manufacturing