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 PLYMOUTH, Mich., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- To ensure future sales growth and competitiveness, Freudenberg-NOK's LaGrange, Ga., manufacturing facility has implemented a lean systems program called GROWTTH that has provided significant quality and productivity improvements at other Freudenberg-NOK facilities across the country.
 "Bringing GROWTTH to the LaGrange facility will help provide a foundation from which this plant will prosper and grow," said William Purslow, vice president-Manufacturing for Freudenberg-NOK's Seals Division, which operates the plant. "Freudenberg-NOK is firmly committed to the GROWTTH program, the LaGrange facility and its workforce, and the implementation of this crucial program underscores that commitment."
 Purslow said the LaGrange facility plays a key role in the company's plan to increase overall sales by 12 percent per year for the next five years -- and to reach $1 billion in annual sales by the year 2000.
 "By adopting lean systems, the LaGrange plant will attract significant new business opportunities by increasing productivity, enhancing product quality and reducing waste," he said. "These new opportunities, coupled with an expected doubling of demand by 1995 for our new heavy duty truck oil bath seals and steering seals produced here, bode extremely well for the LaGrange facility."
 Launched one year ago, Freudenberg-NOK's GROWTTH (Get Rid Of Waste Through Team Harmony) program has already generated impressive improvements in many of the company's manufacturing facilities.
 According to Purslow, Freudenberg-NOK's GROWTTH program has enabled the facilities involved to:
 -- Cut project lead times in half
 -- Increase productivity by 56 percent
 -- Reduce work-in-progress inventory by 81 percent
 -- Reduce floor space requirements by 28 percent
 -- Cut travel distance on the plant floor by 68 percent
 -- Shorten start-to-finish cycle time 78 percent, and
 -- Shrink scrap by 17 percent.
 By utilizing one-piece-flow and cell manufacturing concepts, the lean systems strategy provides customers with components offering more consistent performance, virtually defect-free quality and significant improvements in both cost and service.
 The conversion from mass-manufacturing to one-piece-flow is accomplished by kaizen (continuous improvement) teams made up of Freudenberg-NOK employees from all areas of the plant. Machine operators, accountants and clerical workers often work together on these teams in four-day kaizen projects to streamline operations and improve cost, quality and delivery through the elimination of waste.
 Freudenberg-NOK has already conducted 175 kaizen projects and plans to conduct another 750 while converting 100 percent of its production to one-piece-flow over the next two years. Then, in the spirit of continuous improvement, the company will begin the cycle again to enhance its entire operation, Purslow said.
 The LaGrange facility -- which also produces oil seals, automotive air conditioner seals and shock absorber strut seals -- currently employs 310 people. According to Purslow, some product lines were recently transferred from LaGrange to other Seals Division sites to eliminate redundancy and to free up capacity for anticipated demand increases for its new products.
 One of three facilities operated by Freudenberg-NOK's Seals Division, the LaGrange plant was originally opened in 1980 by NOK Corporation to supply automakers such as General Motors and Ford. Other Seals Division manufacturing sites are located in Cleveland, Ga., and Bristol, N.H.
 On the leading edge of lean system implementation among North American auto suppliers, Freudenberg-NOK is a major 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- 10/22/93
 /CONTACT: Jeff Fix, 706-884-6111, or Sharon Wenzl, 313-451-0020, both of Freudenberg-NOK; or Jim Bianchi of Bianchi Public Relations, 313-268-1090, for Freudenberg-NOK/

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

JG -- DE002 -- 5673 10/22/93 11:15 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 22, 1993

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