Vulcan GMS

August 17, 2011 09:00 ET

Vulcan GMS Uses Quality Thinking to Cut Customer Response Time in Half

MILWAUKEE, WI--(Marketwire - Aug 17, 2011) - During the first quarter of 2011, Vulcan GMS, Inc. (, a supplier of custom-made lead products, experienced pressure for faster delivery from radiation shielding customers. "Manufacturing time at Vulcan is among the fastest in our segment," said Tom Ray, President of Vulcan GMS. "So we had to look elsewhere to increase responsiveness. After assembling a multi-disciplinary team, we attacked the problem by applying a technique we developed for our quality system."

"The technique is quite simple," said Vulcan's Materials Manager Curt McAteer. "Set an outsized goal, in this case acknowledging customer orders within 24 hours, and then eliminate or correct everything that gets in the way of that goal."

The good news was Vulcan uncovered a major improvement opportunity. McAteer said, "It existed in the window of time between receipt of an order and the moment that order could be officially acknowledged. For many reasons, the front-end process was taking five to 10 days between order receipt and acknowledgement. But that much time was needed only if we wanted to cling to suboptimal practices. It was clear we had to close that window," he said.

The bad news was eliminating suboptimal practices would involve reorganization, relocation of personnel, revamping of procedures, policies and paperwork, plus a mindset change regarding how managers and employees involved in the front-end process would do their jobs.

"To meet the goal of delivering the highest possible value to customers, we had to go beyond delivering a quality part at a good price. We had to move work faster than we ever had before," said McAteer.

After three months, Vulcan cut front-end processing time in half. McAteer has put together a checklist of the specific steps Vulcan took to address customer demand for shorter cycle times. A copy of the checklist, "Vulcan's 5 Steps to One-Day Order Entry" is available for downloading on the company's website. (Click here.)

About Vulcan GMS

Vulcan Global Manufacturing Solutions is a leader in custom-made radiation protection 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 companies. The company specializes in the medical, security, aviation and explosives industries.

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