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OMNOVA’s Road to Lean Leads to Increased Finished Goods, Reduced Work-in-Process, Reduced Inventory

“To be successful in the marketplace as a small volume manufacturer, we must have a customer focus. The MassMEP’s lean training is helping us turn this into a competitive advantage. Our road to lean is only beginning. There are many steps we must take to continually improve facility performance, but a solid foundation has been put in place.” – Wesley Reid, Director of Operations, OMNOVA

OMNOVA, Performance Chemicals Division, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, produces customized emulsion polymers using several specialty chemical applications, such as nonwovens, textiles, construction, floor care, and graphic arts.


OMNOVA wanted to improve its production process to make a positive impact on quality, cost, and on-time delivery. At the same time, they wanted to maximize utilization of current resources, people, and equipment at this facility. The company hoped to achieve this goal by instituting simple, standardized production processes that increase the company’s customer-service flexibility.


OMNOVA engaged in a MassMEP lean implementation program featuring continuous improvement methods in targeted production areas. The process began with a Lean 101 seminar to teach the OMNOVA the basics of lean philosophy and implementation. Then a Value Stream Mapping exercise illustrated the present state of operations and identified areas of improvement. OMNOVA used this learning to create improved conditions throughout the value stream, creating a foundation for continuous improvement in other production areas.

MassMEP then conducted a Kaizen blitz focused on the 5S office organization principle. OMNOVA also redefined utilization of its raw materials storage space through an internal/external Kanban program. The plan provided much needed space for staging of packaged outgoing products while providing a systematic replenishment system with a key raw material supplier. This activity created better utilization of cash reserves that otherwise would be designated for bulk raw material inventory not immediately consumed.

OMNOVA continues to measure the impact of its training and is seeing improved workflow, improved visibility and utilization of raw materials, and improved utilization of cash. The company now keeps an eye toward the future, constantly searching for opportunities to increase capacity to meet the growing demand for its products.

OMNOVA’s Results

  • Increased finished goods by 55% over 6 months
  • Reduced work-in-process by 83%
  • Reduced raw material inventory by 57%
  • Reduces inventory supplies by 48%
  • Workforce reduced 13% through attrition


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