Getting the Most Out of Your PRIME Project

June 18, 2014

by Bill Kirchherr

Connecticut-based industrial firms with significant annual power usage have an outstanding opportunity to receive funding for Kaizen events and other lean manufacturing programs.

Under its Process Reengineering for Increased Manufacturing Efficiency program (PRIME), Connecticut Light & Power, as the administrator of the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF), gives manufacturers up to $7,000 for lean manufacturing qualified events.

A Lean Effort that Delivers Big Productivity Gains

PRIME typically pays for focused, three-and-a-half-day Kaizen events with a specific productivity gain in mind. “These projects are meant to deliver improved throughput or productivity,” says CONNSTEP Business Growth Consultant Bill Caplan. “We identify problem areas and address them using Lean techniques and methodologies.  From start to finish, through training activity and the application of lean tools and business processes, PRIME participants see a measurable benefit.”

“PRIME gives Connecticut manufacturers a no-cost, low-risk opportunity to either jump start their Lean journey or expand their understanding of Lean manufacturing programs,” says CONNSTEP Manager, Business Advisory Services, Mike Stimson.  “It’s an excellent way for companies to get some professional guidance regarding a real-world business problem, even if they already have Lean processes in place.”

Gain Millions in Improved Productivity

In fact, the quantified, cumulative benefit of these CONNSTEP-facilitated PRIME programs totals many millions of dollars. “Our clients make significant, long-lasting improvements through these Kaizen events,” says Stimson.  “We query participants nine months or so after completion of each project, and we have documented results that show millions of dollars in improved productivity.”

The Far-Reaching Benefits of PRIME Projects

Production increases are a primary outcome, but they are hardly the only benefit.  A properly executed Kaizen event can accelerate the flow of product, giving manufacturers the opportunity to take on additional production.  Setup reduction, meanwhile, presents a chance to increase revenue through a more efficient shop or decrease batch size, thus improving flexibility to the customer. The benefits of Lean manufacturing programs can even extend beyond the production floor.  In the front office, improving RFQ response times can help get more work flowing through the shop.

“We don’t focus on the tool itself,” says Caplan.  “It’s all about the outcome.  Plant layout, Kanban, cellular flow—all of these lean manufacturing tools deliver increased productivity when they are used correctly.”

Dedication: The Key to Success

For those considering a PRIME-funded Kaizen event or other Lean manufacturing program, CONNSTEP Business Growth Consultant Bill Kirchherr says the most important thing to remember is the need for dedication. “We’re on site for three and a half days,” Kirchherr says. “We need participants who will be active and engaged.  We understand that our clients have businesses to run, and we try to be as flexible as possible, but dedication is the name of the game. We take them as far as we can, and all clients are given a detailed implementation plan.  The ones that are very successful are dedicated—from the top management on down—to following through on that implementation.”

Strengthening Impact with Third-Party Involvement

The best way to maintain the necessary focus, of course, is to engage a third-party facilitator.  While it is not uncommon for SMEs to have in-house Lean talent, a professional facilitator will augment that skillset and bring welcome objectivity.

“There’s always an advantage to having an impartial set of eyes on the process,” says Stimson.  “They will see things that may not be apparent to those within the organization.  They bring objectivity and experience. There’s not much these guys haven’t seen.”



CONNSTEP solved a huge problem for us and helped us bring our delivery rate to 100%. As a direct result of that, we have been awarded with an increase in business which, ultimately, will also benefit (our supplier) Har-Conn.”

CT manufacturer Pegaasus

Chris DePentima

CEO, Pegasus Manufacturing Inc.

“I see great value in the new experiences and perspectives CONNSTEP brings to our business, at reasonable prices. They’re not like consultants, they’re like partners in the business – willing to roll up their sleeves and help.”

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Mark Burzynski

President, Arthur G Russell Co

“CONNSTEP has proved to be a tremendous resource for ESI. CONNSTEP has helped us to adapt to today’s marketplace and remain a quality minded, competitive global player. Our ISO/TS16949 implementation process was efficient and rewarding. I look forward to our future projects with CONNSTEP.”

esi CT manufacturer

Ron Delfini

President, Engineering Specialties Inc.

“CONNSTEP worked with FuelCell Energy to educate and facilitate Lean initiatives and to help meet our needs to establish an overall production improvement plan. This plan has been utilized over a period of time as a ‘guiding light’ to spur numerous improvements that dramatically reduced our product cost.”

Tom Lucas

Manager, Fuel Cell Energy

“CONNSTEP is a valuable partner to Hologic, providing the expertise and ‘outside eyes’ everyone needs to keep their continuous improvement on track. We are now well-positioned on a dynamic growth path and look forward to a long-term relationship with CONNSTEP.”

Greg Safarik

VP Manufacturing Operations, Hologic

“Our experience working with CONNSTEP has brought us benefits we never expected. It’s a great team to work with!”

Bruce Wheeler

VP of Operations, Metal Finishing Technologies Inc.

“The goals of the team were to reduce manufacturing lead-time, reduce floor space utilized, and increase worker productivity. All the goals were met. CONNSTEP helped us to better compete.”

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Dan Rubbo

General Manager, Tornik LLC

“The Business Growth Program is working well for us. We enhanced our website following the meetings to improve our SEO and become more visible to search engines. The segment on negotiating …  promoted changes in our thinking and improved how we interact with customers. The mentoring between sessions was helpful in boosting our progress.”

CT manufacturer Colonial Spring

Bill Lathrop

President, Colonial Spring Co.

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