Home' AME : AME Target Spring 2018 Contents SPRING 2018 TARGET 21
training and supplier actions necessary.”
The assessors were impressed with our
company and felt that as we continue
this lean journey we could see a dramatic
increase in demand for our product. They
addressed the need for a better transition
plan to accommodate rapid expansion.
To address this, we have started quarterly
off-site meetings for our strategic staff.
In these meetings, we look to the past to
see what is working and learn from what
we have done. Then we look to the future
and address the changes and constant
improvements that we can make to
respond to our growing demand in pro-
duction. We literally plan what needs to be
in place to make the magic of our dreams
come true. These quarterly off-site meet-
ings are much different than the standard
management meetings that deal with the
here-and-now of the company.
n Scheduling blocks
“While two-hour buckets are good, you
should continue to shorten time buck-
ets, giving everyone quicker visibility of
production problems and abnormalities.”
Another recommendation was that we
should reduce the length of production
scheduling blocks. Due to some of the
challenges we face, we created our
own scheduling software. Each day the
product demand is assessed along with
the available manpower, and METIS, our
customized scheduling software, defines
the most efficient way to build the prod-
ucts. METIS schedules the activities in
the sub-assembly processes to coordi-
nate with our production line.
We have several materials that we
purchase on large rolls. Previously, to
reduce raw material waste, we would
nest products on our raw material cutting
step. When we started this, we knew this
thinking would lead to large batch sizes.
We decided on a compromise. We would
break our schedule into two-hour blocks.
This would allow the raw material to be
nested within that two-hour block, but
would prevent large batches of material
from being produced. The insight and
questions from the assessors led us to a
more efficient way.
n Standard work
“Standard work was present for most
jobs, but not always easy to see at the
source.” The assessors noticed that our
standard work was accessible, but not
always visible. After working with new
contacts at the AME Boston 2017 annual
conference, we are in the process of
establishing digital instructions. This will
not only allow us to make them visible,
but provide a way to ensure that only
the correct version is available on the
We are excited about the prospect of
updating a standard work once and hav-
ing it applied to all steps of production.
Having a system like this in place will also
support our focus on clarity and trust. The
new standard work will make clear what
needs to be done, and both managers
and team members will be able to trust
that the information is accurate.
n Growth strategy and Amazon
“We suggest looking for other distribution
channels to broaden market penetration.”
While sales are linked strongly with
Amazon as an international partner, we
have focused much of our growth on
custom solutions. Powerblanket has a
strong market advantage because of our
world-class engineering team. This team
creates custom solutions for some of the
most complicated and/or unusual tem-
perature needs for numerous industries
all over the world—and they do it quickly.
Since our AME evaluation, we have
focused even more on custom, and have
roughly doubled our sales of custom
products and reduced our dependence
on Amazon by 8 percent.
We are excited about the feedback and
our experience with AME. The on-site
assessment is changing the way Pow-
erblanket functions. This meaningful
guidance has influenced Powerblanket in
all aspects of our business. As Benjamin
Franklin said: “Without continual growth
and progress, such words as ‘improve-
ment,’ ‘achievement’ and ‘success’ have
no meaning.” We have enjoyed continu-
ous growth and a record-breaking year.
We look forward to the new success.
Michael Bremer is VP AME Awards & Certification,
president of the Cumberland Group – Chicago and
author of several lean related books; Yunfu (George)
Zhang is lean manager at Littelfuse, Dongguan; and
Brent Reddekopp is president of Powerblanket.
Jaime Flores, floor production supervisor at Powerblanket, crimps the ends of a heater.
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