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Growing Leaner at Stonebridge

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Other Articles In This Issue…
Insights, best practices, how to’s, and success stories from manufacturing organizations in Massachusetts. Let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like us to cover at [email protected].

From the Desk of Jack Healy
The Manufacturing in America Report

Beyond Lean
Beyond Lean:  Not Just Another Short Term Project

Manufacturing Our Future Summit
Workforce Development
About the MAC
Partners    What’s New: Programs & Events
   MAC Networking Breakfast: China’s Impact on Manufacturing A "Can’t Miss" Event!
   UMass-Dartmouth Lean Manufacturing Institute &
   A.I.M. Lean Certificate Series


MEP Providing Hands-on Help through the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership


“The Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s assistance has been excellent, both in getting us involved with the Pathways pilot program, and in supporting us during the entire project.”

Kerstin Forrester



Stonebridge Corp. is a female-owned precision machining and certified welding shop located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving defence, oceanographic, medical instrumentation, electronics/high tech, and OEM/industrial markets.  With sales of $1.8 million, the company currently employs 20people, 16 manufacturing and 4 management/staff.  The company, founded in 1962, changed ownership in December 1998.  The business plan calls for sales to grow to $5 million by the end of 2005, primarily through market share gains.



In order to grow market share, Stonebridge knew it had to improve its cost and service position. In early 1999, the company developed metrics for on-time shipments and lead-times.  At that point, “on-time” meant 17 percent, with lead-times at 8-12 weeks.  Stonebridge defined several key areas of focus, beginning with a complete reassessment of the shop layout (completed in April 2000).  Stonebridge knew it also needed to address critical areas such as quality at the source; set-up reductions; cross-training for greater flexibility; improved tooling technology; and building a team environment to ensure that it can provide its customers with unsurpassed service.  Then, Stonebridge was contacted by the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP), a NIST MEP network affiliate, and asked to participate in a pilot program for Lean Manufacturing Pathways, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Bath Iron Works (BIW), a ship builder in Bath, Maine.



BIW developed the Lean Manufacturing Pathways program to help its existing small-business vendors improve both service and costs.  Though not a current BIW vendor, Stonebridge provides the kind of service that BIW will need to efficiently build its new generation of ships.


Each company participating in the program committed to attend a six-month training class that met one full day each month and define a project that will significantly reduce cost and improve over-all service.  ONR committed to provide funding for approved projects.  The Stonebridge project provides training in several areas:  self-directed teams that fully understand the concept of lean manufacturing; improved quality technology; set-up; and tooling technology improvements.


As a direct outcome of its participation in the Pathways program, Stonebridge became an approved vendor to BIW.  The opportunity to add BIW to its customer base and grow its share in other markets through improved service and more competitive pricing, is expected to have a direct impact on sales during the next 18 months.  The continuing focus on lean manufacturing and improved technology beyond 2002 will enable Stonebridge to meet its growth targets by the end of 2005.



Became an approved vendor to Bath Iron Works
Anticipated 18-month sales increase of at least $450,000
On target to achieve targeted revenue growth of $3.8 million by 2005