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Case Study: Unified Processes Free Up Resources

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For our client, putting out fires had become a way of life. Their cycle times were long enough to cause customer complaints and there were multiple culprits, including long lead times, stoppages/bottlenecks during the manufacturing process, and inefficient labor management. These issues were also driving up per unit costs. The result was an operation that was constrained in terms of both physical space and capacity. Two core products manufactured by our client are sold as matched sets, so inefficiencies in the materials sourcing and manufacturing of one product inevitably impacts the other. Resolving the problem meant envisioning the process for both products as one unified, interactive system. The ideal future state would pave the way toward a substantial impact on EBITDA.

Background:

  • Long manufacturing and component lead times
  • Constrained capacity and floor space
  • Underutilized labor

ProAction improved operations flow by realigning relationships:

  • Lean Implementation. Using Value Stream Mapping tools, we were able to identify cycle-times and then dig deeply into processes. We made it our mission to weed out activities that weren’t adding value. As often happens when there are process inefficiencies, we discovered “hidden factories,” workflows that generally developed over time to compensate for existing problems. We also determined where waste and sourcing constraints were impacting the manufacturing process.
  • Layout Changes. We implemented one-piece flow on the manufacturing floor, and Takt-time metrics to ensure that output expectations created a steady rhythm on the line.
  • Possible Futures. Our client wanted a clear path forward, so we identified several potential future state scenarios, including an ideal future state that would increase product velocity, balance line operations, introduce takt and one-piece flow concepts, and reduce labor costs and work in progress.
  • Elbow Room. Our Lean Process evaluation included future state plant layouts for our client’s current facility to accommodate our recommended improvements. This included layouts compatible with expansion and even new facilities.
  • Insourcing/Outsourcing Redistribution. We identified outsourcing opportunities that reduced cost of components, lead times, and in-house component inspections by almost $3,100/unit. We also discovered that insourcing one major component would reduce lead time by over 360 hours.

Actions Taken:

  • Implementation of Lean Manufacturing principles
  • Restructuring of manufacturing lines and materials sourcing
  • Development of an actionable plan to reach the ideal future state

Impact:

  • Manufacturing lead time for both products dropped by 50-66%
  • 12-39% reduction in labor hours ($3,300-$3,800 per unit savings)
  • Elimination of overtime needed to meet current demand
  • Reallocated overtime creates 33% capacity increase
  • More visible, easier to manage “one-piece flow” process
  • 5% to 15% additional savings in receiving, inventory control and shipping
  • Both product areas can now accommodate 100% more assemblies than before within the same footprint

ProAction is an operational consulting firm that works with Private Equity firms to do three things:

  • The first is during due diligence.  We complete a Q of Ops pre-close (similar to a Q of E but with a focus on Operations instead).  We bring a deep and granular operational focus to the diligence team; we evaluate the scalability of an operation and quantify “hidden” opportunities to increase EBITDA and reduce Working Capital beyond management’s plans.
  • The second is post close.  After you acquire a company we act as a resource extension working with your management team to accelerate the path to realizing your investment thesis.  We implement lean manufacturing, global & strategic sourcing, quality systems, sales and operations planning, and inventory planning as needed.
  • Finally, we conduct an operational diligence on “stale” portfolio companies (sort of a sell-side Q of Ops).  The PE firms that hire us to complete this review are most often frustrated with the gap between their expectations and company performance.  In some cases, the PE firm is tired of the additional attention the portfolio company requires.

We focus on three sectors: consumer products, manufacturing, and distribution. We have experts in Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, Sales and Operations Planning, Inventory Strategy, Sourcing, Logistics and Human Capital Development. We were founded in 1995 and are headquartered in Chicago.

For Further Information:
Timothy Van Mieghem
tvm@proactiongroup.com
The ProAction Group, LLC
445 North Wells Street Suite 404
Chicago, IL 606546
Tel: (312) 371-8323
http://www.proactiongroup.com

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