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FREUDENBERG-NOK CEO: LEAN PRODUCTION YIELDS ROBUST PRODUCTS FOR HIGHER AUTO CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

 PLYMOUTH, Mich., Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- To help North American automakers achieve the robust reliability today's car-buyers seek, suppliers must abandon the deep-rooted ways of mass production and embrace the newer lean manufacturing principles pioneered by Japanese industry, according to Joseph C. Day, president and CEO of Freudenberg-NOK.
 "Robustness is impossible with mass production ... because the supplier can't check every part," Day said. "But by bringing the whole production process together and looking at every part through one-piece- flow manufacturing, robustness is built in by both the process and the operator."
 Day's comments came in a keynote speech to supplier industry executives at the National Conference on Lean Enterprise hosted last week by the American Supplier Institute.
 Day encouraged U.S. automakers and suppliers to adopt lean methods and turn vehicle and part production into a "win-win" situation in which carmakers get a more robust and reliable product at a lower price and suppliers enjoy lower costs and longer-term relationships.
 By using lean production techniques such as one-piece-flow and cell manufacturing, he said suppliers can provide North American OEMs parts offering more consistent performance and almost absolute quality assurance -- as well as significant improvements in cost and service.
 These robust product qualities, he said, can help U.S. automakers to extend customer satisfaction well beyond the standard three-year warranty, as they have for automakers such as Honda and Toyota.
 Day also said some of Freudenberg-NOK's customers are already beginning to see reduced warranty costs as a result of the company's lean efforts.
 In just the first year of its own multi-year, corporate-wide lean manufacturing initiative called GROWTTH (Get Rid of Waste Through Team Harmony), Day said the company has conducted 175 projects and achieved the following results:
 -- Cut project lead times in half
 -- Increased productivity by 56 percent
 -- Reduced work-in-progress inventory by 81 percent
 -- Cut travel distance on the plant floor by 68 percent and
 -- Shortened start-to-finish cycle time by 78 percent
 Over the next two years, Day said Freudenberg-NOK will conduct another 750 projects and convert 100 percent of its production to one- piece flow. Then, in the spirit of continuous improvement, the company will begin again to lower costs and increase the robustness of its entire product line, he said.
 Day indicated that the adoption of lean principles will enable Freudenberg-NOK to more than double its sales -- to $1 billion -- by the year 2000. But, he said, the competitive advantage lean systems offer today will be a requisite for survival in 10 years: "What we are doing (today) is what it will take any company to survive a decade from now."
 Capping his remarks, Day extended an invitation to other auto industry suppliers which do not directly compete with Freudenberg-NOK to visit one of the company's plants to see lean systems in action.
 Recognized by the American Supplier Institute as a benchmark company for lean practices, Freudenberg-NOK is a leading manufacturer of precision seals, vibration control devices, molded rubber and plastic components and automotive rebuild kits.
 One of the fastest-growing independent suppliers to the North American automotive industry, Freudenberg-NOK was established in 1989 as a general partnership between Freudenberg & Company of Germany and NOK Corporation of Japan to serve the North American market. The company operates 14 major facilities and employs about 3,600 people in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
 -0- 9/20/93
 /CONTACT: Sharon Wenzl of Freudenberg-NOK, 313-451-0020; or Jim Bianchi of Bianchi Public Relations, 313-268-1090, for Freudenberg-NOK/


CO: Freudenberg-NOK ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:

KR -- DE019 -- 3771 09/20/93 15:08 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 20, 1993
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