LEX Products Reaps Lean Manufacturing Gains
Background: Power Distribution and
Control Company Committed to Quality
Founded in 1989, Lex Products is a leading manufacturer of power distribution and control systems, serving the entertainment, industrial, and military specialty markets. Lex Products has achieved high recognition in the manufacturing industry, including ranking on the Inc. 5000 list as the 77th fastest growing company in the manufacturing segment.
The Lex philosophy of quality and reliability is explained by company President, Michael Scala: “Our focus is to design and build portable power systems to deliver electrical power when and where it is needed. It could be free, but if my customers don’t get it in time, it is of no value. And quality is simply the price of admission – if we kill our customers, they won’t buy from us again.”
Situation: Growth Strained Capacity and
Demanded Increased Efficiency
Lex Products has always focused on quality and on-time delivery. When the company acquired a sheet metal fabricator and was named sole supplier of portable power distribution units for the US Marines, capacity issues came to the fore. Lex needed to standardize processes, increase efficiency and open floor space for increased production.
“Lex was encouraged, as a company holding a government contract, to participate in and receive funding for efficiency initiatives,” Scala says. Through the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Aerospace and Defense Initiative, the company used funding to support investments Lean training and consulting provided by CONNSTEP, Lex fully integrated Lean methodologies into their strategic approach to business growth. The outcome has been steady growth on an upward trajectory; increasing sales four times over, and tripling profits.
Lex quickly outgrew their existing facility in Stamford, Connecticut. With operations in both Connecticut and California, Lex wanted to remain close to key customers in the entertainment and military markets. After a comprehensive search, they chose Shelton. Scala explains, “… we considered options in several different states, but an important factor in our decision to stay in Connecticut was the incentives offered for Lean programming, including accessibility to CONNSTEP.”
Solution: Plant Layout Optimization and Lean Training
The new facility coupled 30,000 square feet of manufacturing space with 24,000 square feet of office space. An additional 30,000 square feet was available for expansion. Using Plant Layout Optimization services from CONNSTEP, the new facility was designed for optimal flow and a flexible layout to accommodate new product development needs. Lex also invested in new equipment and technologies to aid production processes, reduce costs and improve safety. This enabled manufacturing to go directly from engineered 3D CAD models to automated production, improving quality and shortening production time.
Lex also established a Continuous Improvement Department. Says Jim Lefflbine, “In addition to optimizing our processes, having a collection of continuous improvement champions … becomes a competitive advantage for us. When I visit other Lean facilities, we always talk about how hard it is to release production workers from their duties so they may fully participate [in lean training]. We had 27 employees participate in events in 2010. Ninety percent our management team has attended CONNSTEP’s Continuous Improvement Champion Certification or some other formal Lean training, so they understand the value the employee will gain when we take them from the production floor for training purposes. It not only adds value to their team, but to the entire organization.”
A new in-house training room ensures that every employee receives at least 40 hours of training per year. “Continuous improvement is company-wide. Everyone is involved, from our CEO to our assemblers. If it weren’t fully integrated and supported by the leadership, it wouldn’t work,” Jim concludes.
- Cost savings of 20%
- 12% sales increase year over year
- 50 jobs retained
- 60 new jobs
- Reinvest $2,500,000 in plant equipment
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“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Our experience working with CONNSTEP has brought us benefits we never expected. It’s a great team to work with!”
“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.”
“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.”