In Good Company with Lean Initiatives
With the holiday season of giving upon us and inspired by the silvery glow of aluminum, we thought we’d share some of our Lean Initiatives which have brought us great success in our Cuba, Missouri facility. We’re sure the jolly gentleman in the red suit and his devoted elves share some of these same Lean Six Sigma methodologies to meet their quotas this time of year. The North Pole, like American Precision Die Casting continues to produce timely, high-quality products for satisfied customers year after year.
Lean Die Casting
Not just on the die casting manufacturing floor will you find lean concepts and initiatives at APDC. It’s at the very core of our culture at APDC. You will find it in every area of our daily operations from product development, purchasing, sales, service, to order processing and other administrative functions. Improving quality and speed throughout our transactional areas allows us to create value and savings which we are able to pass on to our customers.
Savings not only minimize costs but also result in streamlined operations, reduced overhead, better quality, less re-work, improved productivity, and enhanced overall performance.
APDC also continues to tap the incredible talent and ingenuity of our people. They are always searching for the best ways to be responsive to change, focusing on product quality, enhancing our customers’ experience, shortening product order and build times, and eliminating wasted time and precious materials.
One of the most successful things we have done is to involve our manufacturing technicians in the very beginning stages of product development. This enables them to focus and learn about design attributes which helps manufacturing incorporate and build in the quality our customers expects. We’ve built a culture of openness so our people are receptive to input from other areas of our company. Sometimes our manufacturing technicians challenge the engineering side of the house to make tools easier to produce to assure the highest quality possible.
What are the four lean lessons you can learn from our team?
1. Respect the team process.
We value and respect each other’s instrumental work. We develop and challenge our people to be the best they can be and we are dedicated to continuous improvement. With APDC’s cross-functional commitment to excellence, we communicate at the earliest product concept stage before any tooling or manufacturing costs are incurred.
2. Be good stewards.
APDC’s 26,000 sq. ft. factory layout is specifically designed to make optimal room for the development of new products, equipment, and increased flexibility. These 5S elements of Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain improve safety and housekeeping at every operational level of our die casting plant. Adding better lighting, painting equipment, and removing all clutter creates a more welcoming, well-organized, and visual factory for our people, suppliers, and customers.
We focus on using every inch of space responsibly. We take care to utilize our resources to the fullest potential.
3. Cut out wasteful practices and processes.
Minimize wasted movement and double-handling of products. Our investment in Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) reduces production line launch times. When an aluminum die casting plant like APDC can produce multiple products, from multiple platforms, we are more likely to fully utilize our people’s talents, synchronizing processes and equipment. With reduced downtime and increased output, our customers can better plan, control, and reduce their inventory and production costs.
4. Make a list and check it twice.
At daily production meetings, we go over the priorities for the day. We look at data analysis and trends, and we take time to address any issues from the day before by brainstorming solutions to prevent the same issue from cropping back up in the future. With the introduction of value stream mapping, we’ve seen improved cycle time, reduced inventory, improved quality, fewer defects, and reduced labor costs.
We want to be the best in our market, so we’ve transformed traditional die casting by seamlessly integrating robust automation such as FANUC robots, ladlers, and extractors. We’ve invested in advanced production technologies like our shot monitoring and central spray system. Our Lean manufacturing initiatives ensure APDC delivers you refined, competitive, high-quality aluminum products every day.
From our APDC family to yours, we wish you peace, hope, and joy this holiday season and all the year through. As always, thank you for your business, trust, loyalty, and support.