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Successful Implementations in Lean

Increased Time = Increased Sales for CNC Machining Company

By Karen Myhaver, Outreach Specialist, MassMEP

Over the past three decades, Latva Machine Inc. (http://www.latva.com) has taken on new challenges while focusing on wisely growing their company.  Even with good quality controls and standards in place, they knew there was room for improvement. Their goal was to reduce set up times and learn new concepts that would assist with their continuous improvement program. 

"These days, even if you aren't constantly improving, you can be sure your competition is, so you could be out of business before you know it," says President Mitch Latva.  "We contacted the NH MEP to teach us new methods and ideas so that we can continue to improve, waste less time, increase our throughput, and become more profitable," he added. 

Latva Machine began working with New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NH MEP) project manager Linda Ellis, who visited the company to help assess their needs and identify areas where she and her resources could provide assistance.

NH MEP Project Manager Jane T. Ely helped a team of Latva employees apply the Kaizen methodology for Set-Up Reduction and Quick Changeover of their processes. The team also participated in a Lean Principles workshop which gave them knowledge of basic Lean concepts and tools.

Ely worked on Set-Up Reduction in the mill and lathe departments of the shop.  Lengthy set-ups in these areas were driving up costs on low volume work making it difficult to be competitive. Scheduling delays and excessive scrap had also become problematic. A simple and effective idea Ely utilized was to videotape existing set up procedures and then play the tape for the group to review and analyze.  People were amazed by all the excess time and travel it takes simply because they did not have the things they needed within reach.

Sales Increase 10-15%
After the very first session, both departments saw significant results.  The employees who participated in the training were then able to take their knowledge elsewhere in the company and train others in doing Set-Up Reduction Kaizens. As a result, Latva has seen such benefits as more efficient use of time and increased throughput.  They have increased capacity so they can take on additional work and they have become more profitable.  On average, times have been reduced by 30% per setup.  Sales have increased by 10-15%.

"The three day working seminar (Set-up Reduction) that Linda Ellis and Jane Ely from NH MEP did at Latva Machine provided our people with new ideas and insights on how to improve the efficiency of set-ups," stated Latva. "The before and after videos were quite enlightening! Seeing firsthand the inefficiencies allowed everyone to easily identify waste and realize the importance of planning ahead and having needed equipment all ready to go." 

Latva Machine Inc. will celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2009. This quality-conscious ISO 9001:2000 CNC machining company employs 130 people at two state-of-the-art facilities. Their main office is in Newport, New Hampshire and their second facility is in Alex City, Alabama. Their reputation for being a trustworthy resource for complicated, precision-machined components and assemblies and the quality of the products they manufacture, has earned Latva contracts with the military, aerospace, medical, and automotive industries. Latva specializes in CNC milling and turning of a wide range of materials, such as Inconel, monel, titanium, aluminum, and plastics, as well as machined investment and sand castings made from aluminum, stainless, ductile, and grey iron.

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