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Focus is key to stamper's success.

When Edward Sellers first checked out HS Automotive (HSA) in 1990, he found a company in trouble. Market share was eroding, technology was obsolete, and competitiveness and profitability were at all-time lows.

So he bought the company. Mr Sellers' automotive experience had convinced him there was a market niche for a minority-owned stamping firm. His strategy was to buy a company at a bargain price, then transform it with fresh thinking. As it turned out, the first half of that strategy was the easiest part to implement.

After purchasing HSA, Mr Sellers and his management team discovered things were even worse than they thought: about $1 million worth of the company's business was unprofitable and needed to be purged. Another customer was planning to pull $3 million worth of business back in house.

Realizing that whatever strategy they implemented had to result in a quick payoff, Mr Sellers and HSA vice president/general manager Vincent Whitelock considered their options. They hit on synchronous manufacturing, a just-in-time production approach that General Motors was encouraging suppliers to adopt at the time. Mr Sellers had some experience with synchronous manufacturing and had seen how the approach encouraged managers to focus on specific problems that directly impact profits.

The key to the synchronous approach is spotting relationships between business problems and manufacturing policies and avoiding making investments that don't quickly impact the bottom line. Helping HSA do that was Spectrum Management Group, a Wallingford, CT, management consulting firm.

"In a synchronous manufacturing environment, throughput is defined as money generated by sales," says Spectrum project manager Mike Sigler. "Throughput is not parts produced."

The approach paid big dividends at HSA, which admittedly had a long way to go when it adopted synchronous manufacturing practices. Within five months, the company had cut raw material inventory 33%, total automotive inventory 13%, late deliveries by 58%, premium freight charges by 49%, and overtime by 45%.

One area synchronous manufacturing really helped HSA managers see what needed to be done was in tooling, where the company was facing literally dozens of major and minor problems. "The synchronous perspective clarified which problems to attack, and in what sequence, to have the biggest impact on the bottom line," says Mr Sellers. "Understanding the locations of constraints in the manufacturing process and seeing how an improvement at the constraint could have an immediate positive impact on sales put us in a position to make smart tooling decisions."

The strategy resulted in upgrading die material from A2 tool steel to more wear-resistant D2 and S7 grades and coating of some dies to improve wear life. Press technology was upgraded through addition of electronic monitoring devices and coolant spray units at some presses.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Manufacturing Solutions; Edward Sellers
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Words:449
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