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Lean manufacturing activities reduce backlog, increase production

9/6/2010 12:00 AM

T&K Machine, Inc., in Paris, Texas, manufactures over 500 precision-machined components and assemblies on eight platforms and supplies parts to aerospace companies such as Boeing, Vought Aircraft, Goodrich and others. But the company had a backlog at their deburring operation that supports all machined parts within the organization. One part in particular, the Spear - a part for a Boeing airplane fuselage - was experiencing long lead times due to the backlog in the deburring area.

That's when a team led by Roger Caldwell of TEEX Knowledge Engineering stepped in. They met with T&K employees and used "value stream mapping," a lean manufacturing technique that analyzes the flow of materials required to bring a product to a consumer, which identified a needed improvement in the buffing and deburring process.

After the TEEX training, employees at all levels in the company developed and implemented process improvements that decreased the cycle time for parts by 2 to 3 days, according to Corey Campbell, Vice President of Operations with T&K Machine. The reduced set-up time, consumable cutbacks and operator prep time resulted in a total savings of $111,200 per year.

"Lean manufacturing activities have led to a 15 percent increase in throughput for the downdraft table area and eliminated the backlog in the deburr area," Campbell said. "We've been able to move two employees from the downdraft table to the assembly line to improve production even further." Through continuous improvement, the company has even brought two additional products off the machining process and is running them across the downdraft table without any backlog.

T&K Machine is one of 17 Texas aerospace industry suppliers included in a $1.1 million training grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. This grant qualified the company for training on AS9100 quality standards and lean manufacturing techniques. With the assistance of lean manufacturing experts from the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center and TEEX, the company has made significant process improvements.

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Kathy Fraser

Associate Director of Marketing and Communications

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