Tailored Label Products (TLP) has forged a relationship with the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership that has lasted nearly a decade.

The Menomonee Falls-based manufacturer of custom flexographic printed labels first worked with the WMEP on a waste minimization and value-stream mapping project. The initial effort evolved into a setup reduction program and later a host of other projects involving the vast portfolio of WMEP products and services, said Mike Erwin, TLP’s president and CEO.

glowingTailored Label Products was founded in 1984 as industrial label manufacturers, producing labels found on electronics, vials, telecommunications and outdoor power equipment, among other applications. Products include warning and information labels, as well as product logos and diecut adhesives.

Projects have involved improving the operations of both TLP’s factory and office operations.

“We had done some work in the factory and made some significant reductions, so much so that the factory lead time was shorter than the time to get orders through,” said Jim Fackelman, manufacturing specialist for the WMEP.

designTLP then determined it needed to reduce lead times in the office as well. It turned to the WMEP to perform a value-stream map of its order entry process.

“We showed them were there were some redundant steps and where there was a lot of waiting time between steps,” Fackelman said.

This led to a more than 50 percent reduction in lead time.

“The WMEP was able to reduce our lead times from 80 to 90 hours down to 20 hours,” said Ruth Herdrich, customer service and resource manager for TLP. “Our workload has more than tripled since 2005 but we are still doing it with the same number of people.”

At the WMEP’s recommendation, TLP also took over control of some customer inventory in order to eliminate erratic demand.

“A customer had inventory on site here and it wasn’t managed very well,” Fackelman said. “We showed TLP if they took over control of the inventory, they could manage it better for the customer with no additional cost for the customer.”

TLP also was one of the early adopters of the WMEP’s training and development tools.

packaging“We’ve gone on to develop products that ended up on the shelf that really weren’t commercialized and those that were commercialized,” Erwin said. “It’s given us a really good reputation for being an innovation partner.”

“Through multiple value-stream mapping events led by the WMEP,TLP has been able to considerably reduce waste,” said Jeff Kerlin, the company’s chief operating officer.

“Whether it’s wasted time, wasted movement, wasted materials or wasted labor,” Kerlin said. “Through these events, we’ve really increased our productivity, increased our on-time delivery and improved our bottom line.”

By making TLP’s operations leaner and more efficient, they have been able to transform two-person cells to a single worker for one of its lines. Set up and run waste has been reduced from more than 20 percent to mid-single digits.

inspectingMeanwhile, revenue for one product line grew to more than $5 million from just about $750,000 due in part to improved productivity and the flexibility gained through programs implemented through its involvement with the WMEP, according to Erwin.

TLP has benefitted considerably from forging a partnership with the WMEP, Erwin said.

“WMEP is an outstanding resource. There’s candidly none like it in the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “I got so excited that I joined the board of directors. I was chairman for a few years so they’ve really set their hooks in me.”

 TLP Results

  • Lead time reduced by more than 50%
  • Lean office practices reduced order processing time from 80- 90 hours to 20 hours
  • Since 2005, workload doubled yet handled by the same number of staff
  • Provided new service to customers while reducing TLP inventory costs
  • Lean practices & product innovation increased revenue for one product line from $750,000 to $5 million +

Watch Video