room for improvement, we have made great strides in this
area. We are rapidly reducing our inventory footprint while
minimizing internal transactions,” says Dan Heise, MagStop
Value Stream Manager.
All raw material and finished goods at the plant are delivered and retrieved utilizing a unique tugger train system that
cycles through the plant every two hours. Material handling
associates are devoted to keeping production lines supplied
with components. In order to reduce travel times, most
materials are stored at the point-of-use, rather than a remote
Enhanced Cell Manufacturing
Warner Electric’s highly trained workforce allows the
company to assign multi-skilled associates (i.e.,CNC opera-tor/assembler) to work within each manufacturing cell. Cell
Leaders support multiple cells for problem solving and continuous improvement.
These experienced associates are trained to solve problems
and have the knowledge to quickly fix technical issues and
overcome barriers to production flow as they arise. They also
have the authority to stop production and reassign associates
if necessary. Cell Leaders are also specially trained to identify opportunities to eliminate waste and are encouraged to
make changes through team-based continuous improvement
Work cells throughout the plant are ergonomically
designed and arranged for enhanced worker comfort and
improved productivity, eliminating wasteful movements and
handling.For example, at the CNC machines in the cells, part
trays are positioned for convenient access by operators. Roller conveyor systems are used where they eliminate lifting or
handling in multi-station cells, allowing parts to move more
quickly and easily between associates.
One of the key customer benefits of Warner’s lean man-
ufacturing work cell configurations is the ability to ship
product quickly in response
to customer requested design
manufacturers often require
six-month lead times.
“Quick changeover techniques have been implemented, making once difficult and
much easier and faster. These
initiatives have yielded significant time savings – a typical
changeover now takes 18
minutes versus 50 minutes a
year ago,” says Heise.
Utilizing the Latest
Many “simple” but effective
manufacturing technologies have been introduced to the new
facility. An example is the use of “hanedashi,” a Japanese
term for automatic unload of a work-piece from a machine or
fixture after the cycle is complete.
“Hanedashi encourages manufacturing technologies to
provide automation to remove a part from a process,” Heise
explains. “This allows the associate to spend that valuable
time loading the next part to the process and is a great
ergonomic tool that reduces associate fatigue and minimizes
repetitive motion injuries.”
As part of its commitment to efficiency and quality, War-
ner Electric has invested in five state-of-the-art, right-sized
CNC machines, which were installed at the end of 2014. The
new machines allow for faster part production with improved
Customer shipping requirement dates are tracked at the
assembly cell level so that everyone is aware of customer
expectations. Significant effort is made to compile customer
forecasts and a monthly sales/operations/planning meeting is
held to review future needs based on a current forecast. The
kanban card system does a great job of keeping components
available for production.
Careful Planning Yields Positive Results
“Our new plant layout and continually improved production processes increases flow-through and productivity, as it
reduces waste. This enables us to produce more product on
shorter lead times,” says Ebling.
“An experienced and capable supply chain coupled with
our visually managed material processes, enables purchased
component availability under volatile customer demand.
This allows us to respond to customers in hours rather than
weeks,” he says.
“One of the most significant measures of our success can
be found in our production ‘up-time’ and ‘productivity,’ both
of which are up over 15 percent year over year.”