Sintex-Wausaukee Composites, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of highly engineered composite components for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers in the construction equipment, agricultural equipment, mass transportation, wind energy, medical and security imaging, commercial site furnishing, therapeutic systems, corrosion-resistant materials handling, and recreation industries. More than half of its customers are Fortune 500 companies. With more than 500 employees located at four manufacturing plants in the Midwest, the company has been producing fiberglass products since 1966. Today, it is one of the preeminent firms providing custom composite, plastics-molded products worldwide.
The company’s Owosso, Michigan, facility was being considered for closure, not for the lack of effort by its employees or by its management. Rather, the plant faced a quantum leap in their customers’ requirements for more complex products, produced faster and with higher quality expectations. The challenges seemed insurmountable for the engineer-to-order company as it realized it needed to step back and examine everything, from quoting through scheduling and manufacturing. Time was of the essence, however, because decisions on closing the plant were looming.
With no time to waste, Wipfli conducted a Discovery Event to focus Sintex-Wausaukee Composites, Inc. on ideas for making high impact changes as soon as possible. The firm established an engaging venue, and then brought together shop-floor workers, engineers, supervisors, and executives from throughout the corporation.
Wipfli’s discovery process helped channel the company’s talent and encouraged idea sharing and collaboration. The Discovery Event provided a perfect venue for the Owosso team and Wipfli to identify the opportunities for change, both in the plant and with office processes that would support standardization and timeliness for the long term. The firm guided Sintex-Wausaukee Composites, Inc. in defining new manufacturing methods, creating cells with quality built into the processes while reducing lead times as well as streamlining the business processes to better support manufacturing. Together, all stakeholders generated viable solutions and executed action plans using Wipfli’s structured approach to implementation.
Sintex-Wausaukee Composites, Inc. successfully responded to its formidable challenge, and the Owosso plant is now thriving. Its new manufacturing methods and cell design are fully operational. As a result, the plant is realizing significant reductions in rework, increased available floor space, and improved speed to the customer. Employee morale is also improved.
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