Advanced Illumination Outlook is Brighter with New Quality Controls

Product: Engineered Lighting Arrays
Number of Employees:
32
Years in Business:
18
Location:
Rochester, VT

Situation

Advanced Illumination (AI) developed from a small rural facility to a 32-person operation. Its management systems had been outpaced by customer demand, leading to issues with product quality and supply capability. In 2001, the company faced an order from a large customer for an actively managed kanban-based finished goods supply system. AI needed help implementing this system, and it turned to the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC), a NIST MEP network affiliate, for assistance.

Solution

Upon commencement of the project, it quickly became apparent that there were significant challenges to implementing the kanban system. AI had been experiencing several years of rapid growth, consequently falling behind in the development of standardized work processes, terminology and specifications, which led to significant issues with internal quality levels. Some areas of the business were experiencing process yields around 50 percent. The rework and scrap generated as a result of unmonitored quality was negatively impacting profitability, capacity and morale. AI was also using a push system which, combined with the yield issue, was leading to work-in-process build-up and excessive lead times. VMEC was instrumental in both identifying and proposing solutions for these problems.

VMEC used Value Stream Mapping to evaluate the current state. A future state was drafted based around the kanban requirement, identifying the kaizen projects necessary to bring the system to the point that kanban could be implemented. Process quality issues were identified and assistance provided in design and production of new documentation, quality systems, software and training to bring yields up. The kanban system was designed to not only manage the finished goods inventory as requested, but to change the manufacturing scheduling system from push to pull. Kanban cards were physically produced and staff trained in their use. The system was also integrated with a new MRP system AI was implementing at the time of the project.

Results

  • Improved process quality and lead times by more than 50 percent.
  • Increased availability of critical assembly and quality documentation at the point of use.
  • Dramatically reduced process quality issues.
  • Reduced finished product inventory of over 50 percent.
Advanced Illumination Outlook is Brighter with New Quality Controls