Posted by William Mullane | November 7, 2016
Spudnik Equipment Company manufactures potato machinery to plant, harvest, store, and handle potatoes in bulk. Operating since 1958, the company employs 150 people and ships equipment throughout the United States and Canada. It also ships to a number of overseas countries. From 1996 to 1998, Spudnik implemented some lean manufacturing techniques including product families, kanban, and visual management. Additional business growth both in volume and product variety along with low potato prices, and the desire to remain a market leader, made it necessary for the company to renew lean manufacturing efforts and reduce additional waste from their processes. Spudnik was also planning to consolidate their operation by adding another facility next to their newest plant.
TechHelp conducted a tour of Spudnik’s newest facility and discussed how lean manufacturing principles could be implemented. One-day Lean 101 courses were held to educate all employees on lean principles, starting with the management team. At the same time, TechHelp assisted the company in developing a value stream map to highlight areas of opportunity for waste elimination, and provide a strategic road map for future implementation. The Lean implementation was achieved through a series of “kaizen blitzes”. TechHelp then trained employees on how to facilitate kaizen blitzes so the company would be self sufficient in this area.
- The first kaizen resulted in nearly a 75% reduction in square footage requirements. Spudnik was then able to develop a plan which consolidates all of the operations from its old building (75,000 sq. ft.) into an existing facility with less square footage (60,000 sq. ft.). Both were previously considered full.
- Overhead costs have been significantly reduced as a result.
- Distance traveled by products going from one building to the other cut by 80%.
- Subsequent kaizens in other product families, paint processing, and the office, have further reduced space utilization, overhead and travel distance.
- Kaizen leaders within the company now regularly conduct kaizens to continue to reduce waste in accord with the overall plan with strong management support.