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

Growth Manufacturer Case Study

Creating Capacity for Growth

We have made the investments and now look forward to seeing the returns – things are set up right for us to be successful.” James Bernotas

Amherst Machine is a family-owned custom machine shop specializing in manufacturing metal cutting machine tools, dies, fixtures and other specialty products.

MassMEP began work by helping Amherst’s employee team learn and apply Kaizen tools by having 6s events in their office and lathe areas. According to the team the lathe area was cluttered and disorganized and lacked flow, this resulted in lengthy changeovers and late deliveries. Additionally the company needed to establish and standardized methods of visual management and production scheduling since the lack of these were also affecting production and delivery.


A magnetic visual scheduling board, hung where everyone can see, now indicates
important dates and information and the status of each job. Amherst is using new routing sheets and have documented a standardized customer order procedure to ensure that proper documentation of mechanical and paperwork accompany each job. The team developed documentation for setup and changeover of machines. They cleaned, labeled and reorganized the lathe area to create better flow and an environment where the operators will be able to work effectively and efficiently by having improved access to tools, improved organization resulting in more efficient setup and changeovers. Sustainment Manager was used after the Kaizen events to help Amherst track and sustain their improvements.

The improvement work done at Amherst was initiated primarily to help the company prepare to ship a large amount of work to an important OEM. They were certain that there would have been problems with the order if they had not made these improvements in advance. “Our business has grown and it can grow even more,” says Bernotas. “It had grown beyond our ability to control it. Had we not done this work we would have fallen on our face in Phase 1 of the project and lost the opportunity on seven years of work!”

Amherst has improved the production process in their shop and were able to receive the first set of orders and begin fabrication on the big order the same week. According to Bernotas their customer has given them great feedback – they’ve noticed the changes.  “We have not missed a delivery date since before Christmas,” Jim added. “THIS is HUGE! We have shipped a third of a Million Dollars without missing one shipment (date). This has never happened before.”

Prior to doing the kaizen activities Amherst Machine had been unable to see problems in time. Now with the new scheduling process “it’s like I have a crystal ball and I can see what is going to be happening in the future.” says Jim.  Now he is able to tell a customer that in several months Amherst will be having a very busy period and suggest that a different delivery date might meet their needs better. The customers don’t mind this a bit in fact, they are happy to make changes well in advance rather than getting their deliveries late.

“We have made the investments and now look forward to seeing the returns – things are set up right for us to be successful!”adds Bernotas.

Plant Before Picture

Plant after 6S Traing



In a correspondence to MassMEP Project Manager Dick Ayers Jim shared, "The following is not me patting myself on the back, it is a ‘Thank You’ for showing me how to achieve it.” Amherst Machine’s vendor rating with a DoD customer went from 89% in Q3 of 2010 to 94% in Q4 of 2010 to 100% in Q 1 and Q2 of 2011- with no late deliveries, no mechanical failures and no problems with paperwork.

In Q 3 2010 Amherst had just begun speaking with MassMEP, then during Q 4 2010 they were actively doing improvement work. By Q 1 of 2011 the improvements were in place and working. The results speak for themselves. The production scheduling procedures were an integral factor in allowing Amherst to satisfy a major customer and continue to do $1.2 million in business with them over the next seven years. This was what the company was at risk of losing. The systems and procedures they have set up have also given Amherst the foundation and confidence to approach prestigious new clients that they would never have imagined working with before. Subsequently, Amherst Machine has increased new business as well as improving and increasing business with their existing clients.


  • Daily 5 minute planning meeting for sustainment has improved efficiency by 5%
  • Vendor rating with major DoD contractor has improved from 89% to 100%
  • On time delivery has improved from 75% to 98%
  • Additional business has added a new employee
  • Investment of $10,000 (Master Cam System)
  • Business has grown 10% due to the ability to control the scheduling process
  • Defects were reduced by 12%


 ”The benefits of the work became very evident when we looked back at the notes we took during our first meeting.  We can see just how far we have come. It was really hard to begin the process. We businessmen think we know everything there is to know about our business and we certainly don’t want to spend money learning things we think we already know, but to be honest ours is a very worthwhile success story.”  Jim Bernotas

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