Goal: Increase Production by 30%
Sadoff & Rudoy Industries LLP (SRI) has been at the leading edge of its industry – recycling scrap metal – since its founding in 1947. The family-owned company became known for its innovations in handling and processing scrap, and by 2005, SRI had six scrap metal processing operations in Wisconsin and one in Nebraska employing a total of more than 220 people.
Today, SRI offers more than scrap metal recycling – it provides comprehensive scrap management programs to industry, and quality recycled metals to foundries and a range of specialty processors. “Our mission is to provide quality products and solutions, backed by prompt, professional service and delivered in an environmentally safe manner,” said Bradford Lasky, Executive Vice President.
In 2008, when the recession began taking a toll on heavy industry, Bradford and his two brothers, Jason and Mark, realized the time had come to work toward making the operation even more productive and explored the development of new product lines. One of their board members recommended WMEP, and soon Senior Manufacturing Specialist Steve Straub, facilitated a project team chartered to significantly increase production of a new product line. By targeting waste through more efficient staging of materials and removing excessive motion of people, the firm achieved its goal to increase production by 30%.
Easy changes make a big impact
The next project was the development of a Value Stream Map (VSM) depicting the flow of product through the non-ferrous materials process. “We had a lot of congestion related to material handling,” said Lasky. SRI receives semi-truckloads of material that has to be sorted, then routed to four separate areas for processing based on the type of customer – industrial, commercial, retail and inter-company transfers.
“We improved the layout while building a team culture and implemented ideas generated from all levels of the organization,” Lasky said. SRI is currently working on a third project involving its highest production machine. The company found out that the largest issues in this operation stemmed from a lack of or poor communication. “We’ve made easy changes that have had a big impact on our operation.”
SRI credits WMEP for helping tap into the creativity and problem-solving skills of employees. “The most rewarding aspect of the projects we did with WMEP is gaining buy-in from people you would least expect and seeing the benefits of our improvements. WMEP has given us a platform to shift perceptions, build teams, promote learning and culturally change the organization.”
Continuous improvement drives business growth
A common misperception about continuous improvement is that it leads to layoffs because the more productive an operation becomes, the fewer employees it requires. But the reality is quite different. Continuous improvement principles actually lead to greater job satisfaction and job security, because increasing quality and productivity gives companies a strong competitive advantage that drives growth and profitability.
“At first, there were a few skeptics, but they soon became converts” said Straub, noting continuous improvement relies on employee involvement to be successful. “SRI’s strong focus on employee satisfaction, commitment to quality and collaborative relationship with the union are essential elements for successful change,” he said.
Creating a Value Stream Map
The Value Stream Mapping process literally develops a map of the product as it moves throughout the facility, and the associated information flow. Everyone that touches the process is involved in developing the map. The first step is to diagram the flow of the product as it currently moves through the plant. Then, the team collaboratively diagrams how the product can most productively move through the plant. The result of this is the Value Stream Map. “Developing this map took two weeks – the implementation took four months,” said Straub.
The SRI team determined the pacemaker of their non-ferrous value stream was the incoming materials scale. The scale was also being used to weigh materials at other points during processing, which created congestion. By changing the layout of their facility, SRI created a safer work area for employees and suppliers. The new layout allows SRI to level-load the scale with incoming materials from different categories of suppliers to better serve their customers. The changes effectively increased throughput capacity and provided a solid foundation for future iterations of value stream improvement.
The Value Stream Improvement project also established the momentum for creating a company-wide culture of continuous improvement. Team members are better equipped to use their process knowledge to make their jobs more satisfying, and the company stronger.
- Increased production by 30%
- Developed collaborative communication skills
- Created a safer work area for employees