Highwood USA is a Tamaqua, Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of premium synthetic products that mimic the look of wood and other natural materials. Since 2003, Highwood’s building trim, deck/dock products, fencing, furniture, and outdoor accessories have delivered the beauty of wood with the long-life and ultra-low maintenance associated with synthetics.
“By far the biggest driver of positive results in our companywide Lean implementation has been the rollout of the Lean Daily Management System and Communications Boards.” – Bob Drogan, Engineering Director
Highwood was experiencing a project yield below 90% on three dedicated production lines for one of their major customers. They needed to increase output to greater than 93% and reduce packing labor from two persons to one. Highwood’s attempts to analyze these production lines after the fact were not giving them the real-time feedback needed to fix problems as they occurred.
Highwood turned to MRC to help resolve the issue. Senior Strategy Manager, Mike Withka, determined a Lean Daily Management System would enhance information flow so workers could address issues as they occurred. These systems use worker-managed Communications Boards to assign daily process performance targets and highlight issues when targets are not met. Once revealed, “Plan-Do-Check-Act” (PDCA) problem solving deploys countermeasures aimed at the root cause. Any problems that do arise are dealt with immediately, rather than analyzing and reacting after the fact. Highwood’s Engineering Director, Bob Drogan, agreed to move forward with the strategy.
“Lean Daily Management systems cascade both process performance and improvement goals from the executive through every layer of the organization,” says Withka. “These simple visual systems bring problems to the surface so they can be seen, the root causes found, and proper countermeasures taken. The end game is to have every employee working on the right problem, at the right time, and in the right way, every day.”
- Highwood increased their yield from 90% to 93% and now consistently exceeds that level.
- The Communications Boards continue to help resolve production issues and focus on safety, quality, costs, and delivery, which drives revenue.
- Reduction in time and labor costs utilizing only one packing person rather than two.