Maineline Graphics Trains All Their Employees in Lean Manufacturing to Increase Efficiencies

Company Background:

Maineline Graphics began with just 2 people making signs in the late 1970’s. Fast forward to 2010. That was when Kerri Mobile, CEO and Scott Jobe, President took over the business and evolved it into a leading national provider of custom made residential sign systems.

When Kerri and Scott took over they had 9 employees but they grew quickly. By 2014 they had moved into a 45,000 square foot facility in Antrim, New Hampshire and now employs 27.

With a new facility, new processes, and new equipment, Kerri knew they would need help with efficiencies and where to place the new equipment. “We tried to be proactive with all the changes going on,” said Mobile. “So in mid-2016 we brought in NH MEP to implement Lean training. We wanted everyone in the company to be of the same mind-set, learn how to reduce waste, and understand the benefits of continuous improvement.”

The ultimate goal of the Lean training was to provide hands-on experience with Lean Methodologies for all Maineline Graphics employees. NH MEP provided training and coaching in the areas of Principles of Lean Manufacturing, Value Stream Mapping, and Kaizen Events.

The Principles of Lean Manufacturing training workshop was a hands-on training session that walked Maineline Graphics employees through Lean concepts with four separate factory simulations. They learned the principles of lean manufacturing that included; standardized work, visual controls, set-up reduction, batch size reduction, point of use storage, quality at the source, cellular manufacturing concepts, workforce practices, and pull systems. The workshop focused on eliminating waste in an organization by directly applying the Lean tools. At the end of this workshop the employees gained a clear understanding of the key eight wastes in manufacturing and how they can be eliminated through the application of Lean principles.

Next was the Value Stream Mapping. This consisted of training, coaching, and implementation in which the employees mapped the material and information flow for a production process or product family. NH MEP began with training sessions on the techniques and a simple case study in order to teach the concepts of Value Stream Mapping. The employees created a “Current State” map for a product family or process starting with the customer’s order, receiving raw material and conclude with the finished product at shipping.

Last were the Kaizen Events. These were a series of multi-day training and implementation activities identified during the Value Stream Mapping event. These Kaizen Events were focused on eliminating the wastes identified on the Current State map that are necessary to execute the transformation from Current State to Desired or Future State.

The NH MEP Lean Methodologies training for Maineline Graphics that began in 2016 was completed in September of 2017. “Lean training for our employees allows us to be more efficient and handle a larger volume of work. Shop personnel can now plan better for work coming down the line,” said Mobile.

“Lean is a mindset. Going through the Lean training put everyone on the same page to get to the solution. Lean taught us how to speed up the process for getting products out the door quicker,” said Gary Coleman, Production Manager at Maineline Graphics.
The following results for Maineline Graphics can be credited to having gone through the NH MEP Lean Methodologies training:

  • Retained sales of $500,000 that otherwise would have been lost
  • Added 2 new fulltime employees
  • Increased investment in workforce practices or employee skills at the cost of $20,000
  • Increased investment in new products or processes at the cost of $15,000
  • Increased investment in plant or equipment at the cost of $100,000
  • Increased investment in new information systems or software at the cost of $20,000
  • Cost savings of $150,000 in labor, materials energy, and overhead

“As with many things that are new or different, the initial response was painfully slow or even met with some resistance. The evolution of our production shop has been striking since completing the NH MEP Lean Methodologies Training. We now have a lot more collaboration and critical thinking on the floor to streamline methods and processes which has resulted in fewer mistakes and better products. We are still on a ramp up for innovation and improvement and you can see how our crew is now embracing the ownership and challenge of continuous improvements.”

– Scott Jobe, President, MaineLine Graphics

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