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Castings has made significant progress. Weekly rapid continuous


improvement events have given employees ownership of changes, which is a key part of lean manu- facturing. If they have an idea, they help teach others how to make it a reality. Then there’s how much Vermont Castings actually produces. Instead of just producing, produc- ing and producing parts, Vermont Castings now makes just what the next step in the HHT supply chain needs. Nothing more, nothing less. Te benefits to that are obvious. By processing in smaller batches,


Each part Vermont Castings sends out has to be correct, or else the assembly line at a facility in Pennsylvania will be slowed.


lions of dollars in improvements to the facility and equipment, offering a modern presentation to customers, the community and employees, whom the company refers to as members. Today, the facility has a new blue exterior, and the front office, lockers, restroom facili- ties and cafeteria have all been updated. Additionally, significant investments went towards new ventilation systems, safety enhancements, technological improvements and new lighting. But more importantly, the opera- tion has been altered.


Going Lean Te concept of lean manufactur-


ing isn’t new to Vermont Castings. Before the HHT purchase, the facility had used some lean concepts to their benefit, but it wasn’t an integral part of the culture like it is today. Nelb credits HHT with giving the foundry the latitude and investments needed to service customers across the business. “What’s nice about our lean culture


is the company’s investment and sup- port towards programs, events and training for our members” Nelb said. “It’s interesting to look at how far we’ve come.” To make sure there’s consistent


quality and delivery, Vermont Castings continues reaping the rewards of a lean manufacturing culture. “Expert application of lean principles


driving quality, flow and velocity are the whole culture of HHT. It absolutely has to be on-time, every time with delivery


22 | MODERN CASTING July 2018 Vermont Castings packs reusable totes in a specific order so the stoves can be assembled efficiently.


because the value proposition to our cus- tomer base is to have industry best order- to-delivery lead time,” Nelb said. “If you order from HHT, you’re going to get it almost immediately. Tat’s our business model and that’s why it transcends down to all of our manufacturing sites. Quality has to be at the forefront of that.” Prior to 2015, Vermont Castings


was struggling with multiple issues. Te plant’s production schedule wasn’t based on what customers needed, but was simply about manufacturing as many components as possible. On- time performance was not as consis- tent, and the foundry was battling with how to manage its extra inventory. Tose problems have been resolved


by the application of lean techniques. In all aspects of the business, Vermont


there’s an immediate feedback on quality. Employees can take more ownership of what they’re doing, and if they see an issue with a casting, they are empowered to stop it from moving down the line. Employees went from doing a singular task to working in a cellular operation, where one individ- ual is responsible for all the finishing operations on a single part. “A lot of it’s done at all levels,” said tooling manager/manufacturing engi- neer Jeff Schein. “A lot of it has to be commitment from the top down.” Another change signified just how


challenging lean manufacturing can be. And, ultimately, how transformative.


Packing the Totes


Since the stoves are not actually assembled in Randolph, products must be sent out to a sister plant for final assembly before they reach the con- sumer. Two years ago, the facility put


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