Faced with intense foreign competition and an increasingly competitive market, Electronic Systems, Inc. (ESI) contacted the Rocky Mountain Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (RMTAAC) in 2007 for assistance to improve the firm’s competitive position. Amy Graziano, RMTAAC Project Manager, conducted a thorough business assessment and competitive analysis to identify improvement areas to build a solid foundation for future growth. ESI was awarded $50,000 through the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms grant program to target cost reductions in its supply chain and manufacturing processes.
Electronic Systems, Inc. of Sioux Falls, SD, has been providing electronics manufacturing services to the industrial, medical and telecommunications markets since 1980. With three manufacturing facilities totaling approximately 50,000 sq. ft., the company employs 160 personnel. Typical ESI projects are completed assemblies, sub-assemblies and printed circuit boards for products such as paint sprayers, commercial chemical dispensers, and medical monitoring equipment.
While continuous improvement efforts had been introduced in its manufacturing processes, ESI was able to utilize RMTAAC grant funding to shift its efforts from stop gap measures to a company-wide Lean Manufacturing initiative. Using RMTAAC funding, ESI contracted with the Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership to implement Lean Manufacturing to reduce wasteful or non-value added activities in the manufacturing process resulting in the greatest customer value with minimal wasted resources.
ESI trained its entire workforce on the basics of Lean principles. All departments of the business underwent Lean projects, streamlining the entire process from ordering to shipping. Finally, thirteen associates completed an extensive lean certification program to ensure continuous improvement would be an internally-driven ongoing initiative that is a part of the daily culture at ESI.
The results of ESI’s Lean Manufacturing work are apparent. Lead time averages have been cut in half—from 11 days to 5 for most product lines. Both on-time delivery and labor productivity have increased by 20%. And, as business picks up, ESI’s existing workforce has been able to meet the increased demand. With Trade Assistance Funds, ESI is better equipped to meet its goals of increased profitability through increased sales and reduced costs, customer diversification, and business growth of 5% or more per year.