Edmonton Economic Development Corporation

Edmonton Economic Development Corporation

March 05, 2012 14:15 ET

Toaster Sparks Innovation for Edmonton Manufacturer

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - March 5, 2012) - Ray Turner, founder of Lenmak Exterior Innovations, Inc., a manufacturer of metal exterior products for commercial buildings, turned a quick seven-dollar lunch into pure gold.

Manufacturing is a competitive market and when Turner started the company in 1996, all its products were produced with hand-operated machinery. It was a time-consuming and wasteful process. By putting computerized systems into the process, Turner has been able to create a highly successful manufacturing business.

But each new innovation comes with problems that need to be solved and sometimes the inspiration for the solutions come from the most unlikely places. Turner watched his sandwich move through an automated toasting process and realized that was what he needed. Not a sandwich toaster, obviously, since large pieces of exterior building materials would hardly fit, but the concept driving it.

A little bit of fiddling and figuring later and Turner had developed the new manufacturing process to create the company's patented EnvaTherm line of insulated panels for building curtain walls. Within weeks of going for lunch he had the system in place, proving that the bright ideas that lead to big innovation can come from just about anywhere.

Being smarter, leaner and quicker to adapt is the secret to success for Lenmak. By embracing lean manufacturing, automation and just-in-time production methods, not only has the company increased its productivity, but it offers customers greater choice, better quality and faster delivery on orders.

Computerized state-of-the-art systems in the manufacturing process mean Lenmak provides its clients with a competitive edge ΓöÇ the ability to manufacture larger pieces, more precisely and in new shapes that give architects, builders and designers greater freedom. Operators on the floor interact with computer monitors and rarely touch the pieces they are making. Tight controls ensure waste is nearly eliminated (making the process more environmentally responsible as well), and excess material from larger cuts is used for punching out clips and fasteners when the machinery would otherwise be idle.

All of Lenmak's products are produced just in time. This means that no additional storage facilities are used and an order from a building contractor is manufactured and shipped within 10 days.

Growing while northern Alberta's booming economy was putting upward pressure on costs, Lenmak embraced the idea of lean manufacturing. Thanks to Turner's innovations and lean manufacturing principals at work, Lenmak has doubled its production twice over without having to increase its workforce or footprint.

To learn more about Lenmak, visit www.lenmak.com. To read more about lean manufacturing and other success stories of innovation, visit www.edmonton.com/innovation.

Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) provides leadership in economic development, markets Edmonton as a must-see destination, manages the Shaw Conference Centre and Edmonton Research Park, and acts as a stakeholder in TEC Edmonton, a joint venture with the University of Alberta. For more information, visit www.edmonton.com Learn more about Edmonton through the stories of people who've experienced it at www.edmontonstories.ca

Contact Information

  • Edmonton Economic Development Corporation
    Renee Worrell
    Communications Manager
    780.932.4865
    rworrell@edmonton.com