Compounding, multimillion-dollar ROI drives industrial textile manufacturer’s ongoing commitment to operational excellence.

TBM has had a long-term partnership with this family-owned manufacturer of high-performance coated fabrics. Starting in 2006, the initial kaizen events at Seaman Corporation focused on improving quality and uptime, and reducing setup times. Subsequent projects focused on raw materials, work-in-process and finished goods inventory reduction.

Challenge: In the mid-2000s, responding to heightened global and domestic competition, the company’s senior leadership team prioritized the need to lower production costs and improve efficiency.

At the time, the industrial textile company was facing stiff competition from domestic and offshore suppliers. Raw material price increases were eroding margins. Productivity was low and scrap was climbing. Customers’ fast order delivery expectations were being fulfilled by holding high levels of finished goods inventory.

Solution: Build CI capability and implement lean using an outside resource to deliver improvements that achieve the highest-possible ROI.

Our first kaizen event the following spring focused on reducing off-grade costs improving machine uptime and reducing setup times. After establishing more robust quality processes and faster line changeovers —proving to customers and salespeople alike that they could manufacture and deliver any order within a week —we began working on reducing inventories. Throughout the years, Seaman embraced several lean tools to drive performance improvement. 

Improvement focus areas include:

  1. Using the production preparation process (2P) to optimize the design and set-up of new production lines.
  2. Completing Six Sigma training and certification to help engineering identify and reduce variation in the production process.
  3. Implementing a post-ERP implementation audit process to mitigate risk of customer disruption and profit loss and ensure documented training for future system users.
  4. Using a biennial audit of improvement activities to prioritize improvement projects, align resources and ensure the highest-possible ROI.
  5. Committing to the use of Kaizen as a way to engage associates, integrate acquisitions, align actions to results and accelerate value creation.

Results: The primary competitive benefit, according Richard Seaman, is enhanced responsiveness and manufacturing flexibility, which enables them to respond quickly to customer requests.

Other highlights include:

  • 85% revenue growth
  • $35 million in savings from first pass yield improvement from 88% to 97%
  • Scrap reduction from 7% to 2% of sales
  • A 75% reduction in line changeover times, enhancing flexibility
  • 72%-82% productivity improvement
  • On-time delivery upwards of 98%
  • Inventory turns from 4.0 to an average of 8.8 annually
“Every year, we conduct a planning and review audit on 18 key categories,” says Raj Venkataraman, V.P. of Operations. “They identify [and] guide us where we can improve on opportunity for future growth.”

TBM is currently helping to improve the company’s daily management capabilities using Dploy Solutions. TBM’s data integration and visualization software integrates data from ERP systems and the factory floor to provide a real-time view of performance, eliminating spreadsheets and manual reports. Digitizing the daily management system accelerates communication, follow up and correction of issues.

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