Vulcan GMS

February 15, 2012 09:00 ET

Vulcan GMS Improves Throughput 33 Percent by Refusing to Take No for an Answer

MILWAUKEE, WI--(Marketwire - Feb 15, 2012) - Vulcan GMS, Inc. (, a supplier of custom-made lead shielding products, tungsten radiation shielding and non-lead shielding alternatives, trains employees to reject "it-can't-be-done" attitudes. "Everyone here is expected to contribute to achieving results," said Tom Ray, the company's President. "Progress is hard -- especially after years of incremental improvements -- but that does not mean additional progress cannot be made. It just means we have to work harder to achieve it."

Quality Manager Steven Imp agrees. "At first, targeting ambitious improvements strikes some people as impossible. This is particularly true after years of efforts produce substantial results. 'We've already done so much. How could we possibly do more?' is a typical reaction. It is natural tendency to want to rest on our laurels. But that's a bad strategy. We must continuously set fresh, challenging goals and hold ourselves accountable."

Plant Manager Daniel Mercado remembers being asked to find a way to cut manufacturing lead-time in his area from 15 to 10 days. Mercado said, "My first reaction was 'No way!' The company's attitude: 'Find a way.'"

Mercado and his team analyzed the plant looking for ways to boost throughput 33.3 percent. "We couldn't achieve this goal in bits and pieces. We had to look at the big picture. When we did, we figured out how to do it," he said.

The solution came in three parts. First, stage all raw material at its point of use. This slashed travel distances 46 percent. Second, conduct another round of Kaizen events for setups at every work center. Setup times dropped 26 percent. Third, cut work-in-process (WIP) inventories through a mix of quality and lean techniques. Result: close to half the WIP was cleared out.

"Six months after kicking off this initiative, we were able to quote 10-, not 15-day, lead times. And we could deliver in that time frame," Mercado said.

About Vulcan GMS

Vulcan Global Manufacturing Solutions is a leader in custom-made radiation shielding products manufactured from lead, tungsten, high-density plastics and non-lead metal polymers. ISO 9001/2008 registered, Vulcan GMS is a provider of components and assemblies for some of the world's largest equipment makers. The company specializes in the medical, security, aviation and explosives industries.

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