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Successful Implementations in Lean

Atlantic Air Products: Breathing Easier with Lean on Their Team

By Karen Myhaver, Outreach Specialist, MassMEP

"I would strongly recommend working with New Hampshire MEP to any manufacturing operation. With their assistance, we have been able to gain market share in a very competitive industry while continuing to manufacture our products in American with unionized labor. There is a nice balance between providing opportunities for individuals to earn a good living and achieving success in the marketplace."
— Skip Creamer, Owner, Atlantic Air Products Manufacturing

Public Workshops Reach New Hampshire Manufacturers
Skip Creamer, owner of Atlantic Air Products Mfg., LLC, (AAP), received a mailing outlining an Introduction to Lean Workshop (TimeWise LE 102) being offered to the public by the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NH MEP).  With his background in mechanical engineering and operations, Skip had a basic understanding of Lean concepts and was interested in how they could be applied to his business.  He attended the day-long event with his plant superintendent, Tony Trippiedi.

Meeting Customer Demand, Increasing Capacity
AAP was concerned about one of their major product lines, the HETD (high efficiency take-off collar with damper). Demand for this product was exceeding capacity and they did not want dissatisfied customers. After attending the public event, Skip decided to contact the NH MEP for assistance and they began working with project manager Jane T. Ely. She introduced them to the programs offered by NH MEP as well as government programs aimed at creating and maintaining manufacturing jobs within New Hampshire. 

AAP applied for and received a grant for employee training from the Workforce Opportunity Council. A Lean training plan was established jointly by the company and NH MEP. Project work began with a TimeWise LE102 at the facility in Bow, where 12 employees from both the office and the shop floor gathered, along with participants from other NH companies, to learn basic Lean principles using both classroom instruction and hands-on simulations. 

After learning some basic Lean tools, Atlantic Air Products turned their attention to the company’s HETD line where they used value stream mapping (VSM) to "map out" the process. By following production on this line from beginning to end, the team was able to discover inefficiencies and develop a continuous improvement plan to eliminate them. A 75% increase in throughput was a direct result of this activity.  The VSM methodology continues to be used by the employee team throughout the facility identifying potential problems, formulating solutions, and taking corrective action.

Dedicated Team Sees Results
Much work was done during a scheduled plant shut down between Christmas 2006 and New Year’s. The team came in and completed a 5s Kaizen event which uses a systematic approach to workplace organization. They cleaned and organized the space, changed the plant layout, and streamlined material and operator travel. The goal was to increase throughput in order to satisfy customer demand. Lean principles were applied to evolve the process from batch production to a pull system with one piece flow. VSM illustrated bottlenecks in production that were alleviated by maximizing the use of key pieces of equipment.

There was a 41% improvement on Atlantic Air Products workplace organization 5s checklist score, a survey conducted before and after the 5s event. Operator travel was reduced by 45%. The average shift throughput of the HETD production line has increased by 75% as a direct result of the event. Atlantic Air Products has since added a second shift and currently produces this product 18 hours per day to meet market demand.  

Atlantic Air Products’ employees shared great ideas and were willing to work hard to implement them.Even those who were skeptical of the ideas have been amazed at the benefits once they became involved in the process.

Company Background
Atlantic Air Products Mfg., LLC manufactures a complete line of high quality sheet metal products, duct system components, and accessories for the HVAC industry.  Their 42,000 sq. ft. plant in Bow, NH has 24 employees and houses a state-of-the art manufacturing and distribution facility. The production team is made up of members of SMWIA Local 17. Atlantic Air Products (AAP) manufactures complete sheet metal duct systems direct for contractors throughout New England. In addition, the company offers its line of takeoff collars and components through distributors nationwide. Atlantic Air Products strives for continuous improvement by keeping up with the latest innovations and technologies in manufacturing.


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