Lean Manufacturing in the Automotive Industry

Orchestrating Process Improvement in an Automotive Component Factory

Company Confidential is a privately held $100 million manufacturer of specialty advanced technology heat exchange devices for the automotive, truck, and mobile equipment market. Company Confidential serves both commercial and military markets, with market segments ranging from general passenger vehicles, light duty trucks, heavy equipment, personnel transport, and specialty earth moving vehicles.

Expertise in cooling technology has kept Company Confidential at the forefront of the industry for nearly five decades. Pioneering projects in high-performance cooling applications resulted in the placement of their engine oil cooler on platforms including those at many leading North American automotive assemblers.

Today, Company Confidential has three manufacturing and distribution facilities in North America and is supported internationally with three joint ventures in China.

The Business Challenge

Over the last 20 years this company has been no stranger to change.

Much like the high performance vehicles and utility transportation truck markets they serve, action and speed are deeply rooted in their culture. However, working hard and fast does not mean you have reached optimal levels of performance. Despite extensive training in Lean Manufacturing Best Practices, their business was still struggling to overcome challenges presented by excess WIP inventory and an efficient but not fully optimized plant layout.

Executive Management recognized that in order to reach optimal performance, they needed to change their approach when developing improvement concepts to product flow and plant layout. Management also recognized that while they had some skill sets in house to develop small assembly cells and manufacturing work centers, they needed assistance to help look at the big picture and gain outside experience and expertise to ensure that their improvement approach was holistic and sustainable.

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