Founded in 1960, Brunk Industries has continuously grown as a leader in the stamping industry. Today, this Wisconsin manufacturer enjoys a stellar reputation as one of the few premier precision stamping companies in the world. But it’s the passion and commitment of their people that makes Brunk Industries excel. With well over half a billion components lifetime delivered to the medical device industry, they take pride in producing some of the most complex parts in the world.
It would have been easy to believe everything was going well enough for Brunk Industries. That was until fourth quarter of 2008, when their two largest medical device customers told them to reduce costs by 25% in the next two years or they’d no longer be a preferred partner. The challenge now was to drive costs out of the existing business model and operations in order to continue investing in people and technology.
With the goal to reduce costs by 25%, Brunk needed to eliminate wasteful activities and break old habits. This required a continuous improvement culture where improvement was top of mind and effective communication was the norm.
Brunk had tried other programs but they never seemed to endure past the initial excitement. Wipfli’s continuous improvement plan stressed the importance of building trusting relationships with employees, and learning how to sustain change. The plan included every area of the company—from the shop floor to the design office to the executive level—and focused on the following objectives:
- Eliminate wasteful activities.
- Build a culture of continuous improvement.
- Create momentum and sustainability.
- Increase press availability.
- Reduce set ups.
- Reduce operating costs.
- Reduce breakeven point.
Using a process called “value stream mapping,” Wipfli and Brunk employees physically walked each process, starting where the material comes in all the way through the production and shipment to the customer. After analyzing the information, projects were identified and the real problem solving began. The value stream map is a highly effective tool because it slows everything down so it can be studied, making way for countless “ah-ha” moments in each step of a process.
The continuous improvement program resulted in driving a tremendous amount of cost out of Brunk’s business.
Results over the first 12 months included:
- 42% time reduction in tool related press downtime
- 15% time reduction in press room quality approvals
- 50% reduction in set up time on set ups on targeted presses
- 36% improvement in productivity on targeted secondary operations
- 25% increase in press room productivity
A large part of the success came from not only helping Brunk realize where they needed to go, but helping them get it done. Employees see the benefits of the continuous improvement journey every day and driving out wasteful activities is now part of the Brunk Industries culture.
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