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The plant recently added a $6 million
advanced powder-coating system for
the approximately 10,000 wheels it pro-
duces daily for the heavy truck industry.
Henderson also is home to Accuride’s
wheels research and development, prod-
uct development and testing facilities.
Accuride is a leading supplier of wheels and
wheel-end components to the North Amer-
ican commercial vehicle industry, including
steel and aluminum wheels and wheel-end
components, as well as specialty cast-iron
components and assemblies for a range of
agricultural, construction and mining, and
oil and gas equipment applications.
Henderson plant history
Larry “Ox” Townsend, human resources/
lean/continuous improvement manager, has
been at the Henderson facility since its in-
ception as part of Firestone Steel Products.
At the time, the plant had about 700-800
production and business-unit employees
and was still experiencing growing pains.
“We didn’t do a lot of training; we just
started from scratch and worked our
way up,” Townsend said. “We struggled
through the first several years.”
“Today, we have 122 people on the shop
floor and 35 salaried employees.”
To facilitate its lean journey, Kevin Richard,
industrial engineer, said the plant started
working with lean consulting firm Harris Lean
Systems (HLS). Among the first things it did
was develop the plant’s value stream map.
“Our initial value stream map had 16.3
days of lead time from start to finish,”
Richard said. “Our task was to improve
this, and we did. Since 2011, lead time
has been reduced to 5.93 days.”
Henderson made a number of improve-
ments to achieve this significant reduc-
tion in lead time.
The first thing the team did was deter-
mine its assembly line process pace-
makers and implement a kanban card
pull system going back to raw materials.
Using a plan for every part (PFEP) and
time to replenish (TTR) changeover wheel,
production was scheduled at the pace-
makers only. Previously, production was
scheduled at every cell independently.
“What that has done for us in the past
few years is reduce our work in process
(WIP) by approximately 700,000 units or
41 percent,” Richard said. “And all of the
floor space that was freed up that used to
have parts sitting in it was 13,185 square
feet. We used that space to install our
new Steel Armor powder-coating line.”
Prior to this floor space becoming free,
the coating line originally was planned
as an addition to the plant. So this was a
cost-savings, as well.
By reducing its WIP, Henderson has
been able to reduce the size of its fork
truck material handling equipment fleet
by more than 50 percent since 2011.
Less inventory meant fewer fork trucks
were needed to move it around.
Another lean process the facility imple-
mented early on was a tugger delivery
route to all assembly lines. Using kanban
pull, the tugger delivers gloves, markers,
In 1986, the company added $26 million
of new equipment, which Townsend said
was the last major capital investment at
the facility prior to the $6 million for its
new powder-coating system plus addi-
tional electronics and robotics.
From 1997 to 1998, the facility was a can-
didate for closure following a previous own-
er’s demand for increased revenue and a
union strike over new work rules. But it was
able to endure and kept its doors open.
“We’ve turned the whole operation
around now,” Townsend said. “We’re
smaller now, very family oriented and
have a brand-new mindset of how we
work. We don’t have turnover because
our people like having a four-day work
week and the freedom and flexibility to
do their jobs.”
Lean journey successes
After arriving at Accuride in 2011, CEO
Rick Dauch helped the Henderson facili-
ty launch its lean journey that June.
“This lean journey we started in 2011
has been a pretty exciting time and
has changed all of us,” Townsend said.
From left to right, Rick Dauch, Accuride president and CEO; Larry “Ox” Townsend, Human
Resources, Accuride Henderson operations; JD Marhevko, Accuride senior vice president,
Quality and Lean; Michael Bremer, AME vice president of Award Programs; Mike Waller, Accuride
director of operations at Henderson; Scott Hazlett, Accuride senior vice president, Operations;
Kevin Richard, Accuride industrial engineer at Henderson Operations; Hugh McCormick, judge
executive, Henderson County; and Steve Austin, mayor of the City of Henderson, Kentucky.
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