- June 23, 2017
- Posted by: Cheryl Rybka
- Category: Productivity
“Ventamatic – Leading the Way in Quality, Value and Customer Satisfaction”
Air movement company uses Lean Manufacturing to help meet the challenges of accelerating growth.
Ventamatic, Ltd. has provided the ventilation industry with AN AIR OF EXCELLENCE for over 70 years. A pioneer in the ventilation industry since 1948, Ventamatic, Ltd. manufactures high quality air delivery and air movement products for the residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural markets. Based in Mineral Wells, Texas, the company is an industry leader with a reputation for quality, value, and customer satisfaction. Ventamatic’s products are sold throughout North America through retail and wholesale distributors, home centers, and lumber and building materials suppliers.
Historically, Ventamatic’s culture has not been one of dramatic change, but rather measured improvements introduced gradually but continuously. The management team recognized the pace of change would need to accelerate to meet growth challenges from both internal and external factors. Taking advantage of a grant made available through Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, Ventamatic contacted TMAC to work with management and their workforce through a comprehensive Lean transformation initiative.
The project began in October 2012, with training classes and events held throughout the following year. Company officers and management participated in Basics of Lean for Managers, Value Stream Mapping events and Lean Management System implementation. All of the permanent workforce received Principles of Lean Manufacturing training and participated in several rapid improvement events including multiple 5S Workplace Organization, “Kanban” Pull Replenishment implementations and a 10 hour OSHA Safety course. TMAC advisors continued to work with managers and supervisors to instill an improvement methodology in the workforce of “Introduce, Practice, Apply, and Reinforce” using systematic problem solving techniques.
“Culture” with respect to Lean Manufacturing is defined as the “sum of habits.” Initially the Lean transformation effort at Ventamatic resulted in improved performance and ability to meet increasing customer demand. However, as many companies have experienced, unless the required elements of management structure and technical knowledge are in place, people can easily revert to old habits. Over time, up and down changes in market demand required labor force increases and reductions.
These changes and the inherent employee turnover gradually diluted the knowledge of Lean in the Ventamatic labor force. In late 2013 before the seasonal upswing in demand, Ventamatic contacted TMAC again to conduct a “Lean Review and Re-enforce” workshop for key staff and employees.
As Ventamatic worked to increase sales, increased production capacity was required. This included a new building and additional assembly lines. The new lines were laid out from the beginning to incorporate Lean production and product flow. The new facility worked well as did many of the lines in the old facility that were using Lean. But eventually with growing sales and demand, the company was at risk of outgrowing the capacity required during peak season. It was time to focus again Lean efforts, but this time the decision was made to concentrate on working with plant management and supervisors so that they as the primary agents of change could continuously re-enforce Lean practices to the production employees and train new employees. This effort included constructing and placing visual control boards to provide real-time feedback to production line personnel on expectations, actual to planned production performance and quality performance.
A system of “leader standard work” was employed for supervisors and plant management to give them tangible tools and methods to “engage” employees and re-enforce key concepts. All employees now had increased awareness of these metrics and noted any problem so that preventive and corrective actions could be taken. A system of regular supervisor meetings was implemented where the metrics were reviewed with special attention given to tracking defect cause and production downtime so corrective and preventive measures could be put in place.
The Lean initiative has had many impacts on Ventamatic. The standardization of production methods and Lean production methods allowed for the company to expand its production capacity as well as manage the introduction of new production lines and products.
This resulting organization and increased efficiency has supported the company’s impressive growth throughout the last 5 years. The company has been able to double its revenue within this same period of time.