JARP Industries Inc. was introduced to WMEP in 2006 through the Accelerate Supplier Development program and since then has turned to WMEP for services ranging from value stream mapping to programs aimed at boosting its marketing efforts.
“WMEP has been a very valuable resource in helping us evolve,” JARP CEO Kevin Kraft said. “The benefits we’ve gotten have been pretty wide ranging.”
Founded in 1959, Wausau-based JARP has about 200 employees and produces hydraulic cylinders. WMEP led JARP through a value stream mapping project that drove improvements in the company’s assembly process. WMEP also assisted JARP in developing a new marketing strategy implementation, which after implementation led to a 15 percent boost in JARP’s sales and customer base. JARP lacked a defined marketing strategy prior to WMEP’s involvement, Kraft said.
“It allowed us to break into new markets,” Kraft said. In 2011, JARP expanded its plant and added new equipment in order to begin producing an expanded product line.
“Having the benefit of the strategic marketing plan behind us, we now know how to go out and target customers who will fit that product line,” he said.
JARP turned to WMEP for marketing assistance because it lacked the in-house resources to handle the undertaking itself, said Robert Stack, vice president of business development at JARP. “We realized we had to beef up our marketing efforts,” Stack said. “Our growth prospects look very strong.”
JARP also took advantage of the MPX software, which assists manufacturers in identifying bottlenecks in their production process to improve throughput time. The software allows for a near replication of a value stream mapping process but often can identify issues in a much shorter time period.
“MPX is able to give us insight into equipment and labor utilization and product flow and provided another way of viewing our value stream,” Kraft said.
MPX software has provided crucial benefits for JARP, which has hundreds of different configurations of cylinders.
“We were having trouble using a standard value stream map because of high variety and low volume,” said Troy Sherfinski, manufacturing engineer at JARP. “The software gave us a really good picture of what we were seeing. It gave us a look we couldn’t see on paper.”
MPX software also has been crucial pinpointing bottlenecks in the production process, Sherfinski said. “It helps us identify bottlenecks and exploit them,” he said.
JARP’s lean transformation and continuous improvement journey began six years ago. It started with Lean Foundational Training for the executive team and then cascaded to mid-management and selected team leaders and technicians.
“We’ve done a lot of training,” Kraft said. “We’ve evolved a lot as a company and that has been because of training.”
Early in the journey it was recognized that lean leader training was needed for the supervisors, team leaders and managers to learn how to be engaging and incorporate soft skills. The first project was 5S workplace organization and standardization. What began in one area now has spread throughout the plant and into JARP’s offices.
Along the way, projects have include value stream mapping, quick changeover of machines, cell flow standardization, constraint analysis, marketing research, profitable sustainability initiative, green belt training, facility layout and production scheduling.
“We had to create a change culture,” said Mark Hatzenbeller, WMEP regional account manager. “JARP has done an excellent job identifying key performance indicators. We worked on pulling JARP along through a continuous improvement transformation.”
After six years of continuous improvement programs, JARP is taking part in a refresher course aimed at allowing company management to see the changes and improvements that have been made over time, Hatzenbeller said.
“We’re taking them back to the foundation so people can see more clearly what’s going on in the organization,” he said.