Lean leadership

When Dan Ariens assumed the role of president of the Ariens Co.,
the outdoor power equipment industry was beginning to undergo significant changes due to pressures related to competition from China. Eight
years later, Ariens’ biggest challenge is
that the industry
supply chain is moving to China.

U.S. engine manufacturers are building new plants in
China while more
than 130 different
small engine manufacturers are currently operating there.
Coupled with a significant level of
investment in that country, labor capacity and an aggressive drive toward a free-market system, Ariens Co. must continually find more efficient ways to do business.

To ensure the financial future of the
company, Ariens introduced the company to the principles of lean manufacturing beginning with lean training in 1998.
Today, through the leadership of the
executive team and contribution of all
employees, Ariens’ production system is
based on lean manufacturing principles.

As a result, the company has experienced a 15 percent productivity gain
since 1999. Current inventory on hand
has been reduced from 83 days to 20
days, and product delivery lead time is
two hours, down from five weeks in

Using lean principles, employees
redesigned the spindle fabricating process
into a one-piece flow cell, allowing the
company to produce the spindle for less
than those made in China.

Product development taps into the lean
business model for a clear and sustained
capacity for creativity and innovation in
the development of new products with
input from employees at every level.

HOW TO REACH: Ariens Co., www.ariens.com or (920) 756-2141