SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

October 01, 2010 11:00 ET

Eaton Facility Wins 2010 'Plant of the Year' Award From ASSEMBLY Magazine and The Boston Consulting Group

Plant in Lincoln, IL Honored for Strong Performance and Continuous Improvements Despite Recent Market Conditions; Award Recognizes Excellence in U.S. Manufacturing

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - October 1, 2010) -  ASSEMBLY magazine, a trade publication for manufacturers, and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), one of the world's leading management consulting firms, today named Eaton Corporation as the 2010 winner of their "Assembly Plant of the Year" award. The award spotlights a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the United States that has applied world-class processes to reduce production costs, increase productivity, shorten time to market, and improve product quality.

Eaton's 52-year-old residential products division facility in Lincoln, IL, earned the honor because it has remained innovative and cost-efficient despite difficult market conditions over the past few years. The 380,000-square-foot factory assembles more than 5 million electrical devices a year. A wide variety of products are made there, including multifamily metering devices, power outlet panels, and air conditioner disconnects. The products are used in homes, apartment buildings, and small businesses.

Among the specific accomplishments cited in ASSEMBLY's October issue, the plant has achieved the following:

  • $15 million in savings over the last three years, much of it due to lean manufacturing initiatives and investments in new production technology
  • A 20 percent improvement in sales per employee over a three-year period
  • A 40 percent reduction in cycle time in its four product families
  • More than 1,000 new products launched in the last three years, most of which were designed by the in-house engineering team for cost-efficient assembly
  • A number of green manufacturing and safety initiatives

"The Lincoln plant has been a leader within Eaton Corporation in the areas of customer satisfaction measured by product availability, quality, and cost competitiveness," plant manager Rick Wyatt told ASSEMBLY. "Over the past three years, the facility has experienced significant challenges due to the decline in the residential market. Despite that, the Lincoln plant has continued to improve or sustain its leading performance indicators and has exceeded financial expectations."

"Our goal," added Wyatt, "is to provide cost-competitive, high-volume-assembly and customized products with a focus on customer solutions. This manufacturing strategy incorporates automated assembly equipment, which improves quality, performance, and productivity, while enhancing ergonomics." 

The strategy seems to be working. "One of this facility's strongest advantages is its in-house machine-building capability," said Austin Weber, senior editor of ASSEMBLY. "This department has created many one-of-a-kind automated assembly machines. The Lincoln plant also operates a flex center that creates innovative solutions to unique customer needs."

Michael Zinser, a partner in BCG's Chicago office and global coleader of the firm's manufacturing team, noted, "We were particularly impressed by Eaton's ability to manage, and even decrease, its unit cost position despite significantly lower volumes, while maintaining its incredibly high standards of quality and delivery. Many organizations claim to have lean programs, but they often fail to sustain their improvements over long periods of time. At Eaton, the production system and lean thinking have become embedded in the culture, as employees constantly strive for competitive advantage in their operations."

Eaton Corporation is a diversified power management company headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio (with 2009 sales of $11.9 billion). Its product lines include electrical power distribution and control equipment, hydraulic products for use in mobile and industrial applications, aerospace propulsion systems, and truck safety systems. Electrical power management is its leading line of business, accounting for about half of Eaton's sales. Geographically, the company earns more than half of its revenue within the United States. Eaton has approximately 70,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 150 countries.

Eaton is the seventh annual recipient of the Assembly Plant of the Year competition, which is judged by ASSEMBLY's editorial staff and BCG's Operations practice. Previous recipients are Batesville Casket Company (Manchester, TN); IBM Corporation (Poughkeepsie, NY); Schneider Electric/Square D (Lexington, KY); Lear Corporation (Montgomery, AL); Xerox Corporation (Webster, NY); and Paccar/Kenworth Truck Company (Renton, WA).

A nomination form for the 2011 award will be available at www.assemblymag.com in January. For further information on the award, please contact ASSEMBLY's Austin Weber at 630-694-4013 or webera@bnpmedia.com.

About ASSEMBLY Magazine

ASSEMBLY (www.assemblymag.com) is a monthly trade magazine that has been published since 1958. It is read by plant managers, manufacturing engineers, and design engineers in a wide variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, appliances, consumer goods, electronics, industrial machinery, medical devices, and telecommunications. ASSEMBLY covers the systems, equipment, tools, and materials used by OEMs and contract manufacturers to assemble discrete parts into finished products, including manual and automated production processes. ASSEMBLY is published by BNP Media.

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients in all sectors and regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their businesses. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 69 offices in 40 countries. For more information, please visit www.bcg.com.