NATDA Magazine Sept/Oct 2017 NM_Sept2017WEB-ilovepdf-compressed - Page 33

Lean Manufacturing provides the foundation for continuous improvement and change in an industry that typically thrives on repetition and high throughput .
One simple aspect of Lean is to decrease distance between value added material and where the material will be assembled . With the new building , that material ( aluminum and steel framing , aluminum panels & trim , axles , wheels , etc .) is received at the front of the building , next to the road used by approaching supply vehicles . Material storage inside the facility is near receiving , with plenty of space in the margins of the production line for transporting it . Material storage is conveniently located near its corresponding production station , so ATC builders can continuously do value added work without wasting time searching for material .
Lean principals can also be applied to the office layout . Engineering , purchasing , sales , IT , marketing and the executive team are all located in an open office space in a raised mezzanine overlooking the production floor . The mezzanine allows for office employees to quickly check on the status of trailers on the production line . The open layout ( no walls or cubical ) allows for conversation and ideas to easily be shared , for problems to quickly be fixed and for order process to flow efficiently .
While trailer production was the chief focus of the facility design , Brenneman invested in features to give employees a sense of pride for their company . Modern design aesthetics were installed in the office ( including skylights ), windows line the production area , a 4,500-square foot employee cafeteria was built with tall ceilings and modern decorative drop ceilings . A wooded area outside the building , next to the employee entrance , wasn ’ t removed to improve the look of the campus . Soon , a crushed limestone walking / running path will wind through the trees and around the building and employees that exercise over break can use two private showers .
These nice features are an ancillary benefit that doesn ’ t necessarily support production efficiency , but Brenneman ’ s goal was to boost employee morale . And , according to Brenneman , a strong argument can be made that a prideful and content employee base will be more productive and care more about quality .
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