Stripping the waste

Thomas Steel Strip realized it needed to change if it wanted to compete globally.

It needed to improve its effectiveness, profitability and efficiency. To do so, the company began a new continuous improvement program called Business Excellence, which focuses on reducing waste in both the company’s business and manufacturing processes.

During a weeklong Business Excellence “boot camp,” the team focused on lean manufacturing, problem-solving and statistical data analysis techniques. The program provided one common, structured method for improvement and generated a clear bias for action and results. It also gave all leaders clear, simultaneous communication of expectations to eliminate miscommunications.

The teams applied the knowledge they learned in a series of kaizen events on both the shop floor and in the front office, including Quick Changeover SMED, Value Stream Mapping, Lean Office and 5-S Workplace Organization. Following the activities, the teams were able to better identify root causes of waste and inefficiency and eliminate those sources.

Thomas Steel Strip did not want the Business Excellence Program to stop there, though. It has become an ongoing endeavor for the company, which has three full-time coaches to oversee and monitor the day-to-day progress. These coaches also work to continue driving the initiative forward, and the company has seen a great impact since implementing the program. It has cut the number of line stops it experiences by 50 percent and capacity on key bottleneck units in its nickel plating line has increased by 13 percent,both without investing in any capital costs.

One of the most significant impacts has been in Thomas Steel Strip’s work with customers. Before the Business Excellence program, it took the company approximately 30 days to respond to customer inquiries. After implementing the program, the company now responds in about three days.

When all of these improvements meshed, it created a $500,000 savings in the first year of the program, and nearly $900,000 in savings to date. Thomas Steel Strip looks toward the future to continue developing the Business Excellence program and improving its processes.

How to reach: Thomas Steel Strip, (330) 841-6222