The Manufacturing Advancement Center

About MAC
The MAC Action Newsline
Manufacturing our Summit
Upcoming Programs
Resource Library
Contact Us

Send a Letter
to the Editor

Successful Implementations in Lean

Willingness to Change and Empowered Employees Help O.R.M. Succeed

We were operating pretty successfully with the assembly line “batch mentality” when John came in and was talking about one piece flow work cells. We were astonished to see the measurable improvements from this paradigm shift.”  Susan Ormondroyd

Over the years, O.R.M. Incorporated of Northborough MA has learned to diversify in order to survive. The woman-owned company was founded fifteen years ago by Susan Ormandroyd and her husband Peter and currently has nineteen employees. While manufacturing electronics is still their primary focus they also build sheet metal enclosures and provide fulfillment work, assembling kits of parts for the medical device industry.  “In many of these instances the stakes are high,” says Peter. “If the kits are missing something as simple as a nut it can end up costing our customers huge amounts of money. We have to be excellent at what we do!”

In spring 2007, Peter attended a Lean Champion’s Round Table at Savage Arms in Westfield, put on by the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP). He admits that hearing their story, touring the Savage Arms facility and sharing ideas with the other companies in attendance really got him hooked! “On the plant tour I was especially impressed with how Savage Arms dealt with inventory, their use of visuals and how all their people seemed to be on board with their Lean initiative. I knew we needed that here at O.R.M.” orm1

O.R.M. contacted the Mass MEP for their assistance and applied for a Workforce Training Fund Grant to defray some training costs. “Our MassMEP Project manager John Killam, assisted us with our grant application as well as our Lean training which was another great value he brought to the table,” says Peter. “We really clicked with John.  He has lots of knowledge and passion about what the MassMEP can offer and we wanted it!”

Layout Changes = Big Improvements
After Susan, Peter and their production manager attended a public event that provided a basic Lean overview, they decided a priority would be to have John help with a plant layout to improve flow throughout the facility.  He worked with an employee team using spaghetti diagrams to illustrate all the processes in the system as they currently existed. The diagrams indicated the motion of people, materials and information within each process. This information became the basis for deciding what would comprise the new layout.

With a lot of effort from everyone the shop is now even better organized and laid out in the sequence in which materials travel through the processes. This minimizes product and people travel and makes O.R.M. more efficient and productive with time.

60% productivity improvement!
The metal enclosure sub assembly area took up most of a large room.  A single employee produced 16 completed enclosures per week using a batch method.  John suggested single piece flow for this process and worked with an employee team to design and lay out a cell with the necessary work surfaces, lots of visuals, labeling and tools and materials within reach. The Shipper/Receiver does the restocking. Now the entire assembly area is housed in about 1/10 the space is used to take, freeing up space for additional work cells for Q C and other operations. The same employee is able to build 8 enclosures in one day which are being shipped continuously to the OEM at a steady pace. This activity brought about a 60% productivity improvement.

“This was true validation of the Lean concepts John and the employees were implementing,” says Susan. “We thought we were doing ok because somehow we were managing to meet our client demand. Working with John we saw how much better we could be.”

Increased throughput by 50% 
After seeing the benefits of work cells O.R.M. employees chose to build them in the area where they kit the fulfillment work. Many universal visuals were used. Cells were outlined with tape on the floor to show when they were “out-growing” their boundaries to prevent excess inventory build-up. The process works and continues to improve. Empowering all employees with the freedom and responsibility to offer solutions is critical to Lean success.
“The cells have increased throughput of our fulfillment work by 50%
through the use of visuals, layout changes and consolidation of materials,” adds Peter.

O.R.M. has posted white boards which indicate throughput and accountability for the cell leaders to refer to. They also track production time and number of units and quality issues on a daily basis so everyone can see how to manage the WIP and adjust production.
All around the shop floor you see examples of how O.R.M. employees’ simple visual displays and storage ideas have been implemented .These are mostly low cost, made from things you can purchase the local home improvement store.  Lean has become the company mindset and the ideas keep coming.

Our People ARE the Process!
Lean works well because people are empowered and not micro-managed. The information is geared toward the employees so they can learn the process, tell us if they have issues and make suggestions for improvement. Our employees come up with the best ideas! After all, our people ARE the process,” says Susan.

The fact that O.R.M. employees really embraced Lean undoubtedly made getting their ISO 9001-2008 certification easier because the two go hand in hand. Since many of their customers and potential customers require both Lean and ISO, the certification should increase O.R.M.’s customer base. 

The impacts of small changes and small problems are felt more by smaller businesses. When O.R.M. shut down entire departments to make layout changes they literally stopped production. Going through the process of implementing Lean represents a big investment and leap of faith that they are very glad they made.

 “We have been around for a long time now and have tried to invest in things that make us better.  In particular, Lean training and MassMEP’s help. We have participated in events and attended the roundtables to continue learning. I also follow the MassMEP website to get valuable information and I enjoy sharing information about our Lean journey with others. This give and take is great because you are always on the Lean journey. We also can’t say enough about John (Killam); his sincere enthusiasm, desire to achieve and respect for all employees was critical to our Lean success.” Peter Ormondroyd

Have an Opinion?
Have an opinion to share? Send a Letter to the Editor.


Home | About MAC | The MAC Action Newsline | Manufacturing Our Future Summit
Upcoming Programs | Toolbox | Resource Library | Partners | Contact Us

© Copyright , Manufacturing Advancement Center
100 Grove Street, Worcester, MA 01605, USA, Privacy Policy
Developed by Telesian Technology