Background

Fleet Sales West is one of the largest fabricators and assemblers of custom tow trucks, auto loader wreckers and flat-bed car carriers in the United States. In addition to Fleet Sales, there are two dealerships in California that are part of this family of businesses.

Fleet Sales West, LLC, is a Miller Industries, Award Winning Distributor. They have received the President’s Award for Outstanding Customer Service from 2004 through 2010. Their California companies have also been recognized with Miller Industries Platinum Dealer Award.

100%
Jobs Retained
50%
Reduction in Non value Added Activities
100%
Increase in Output

The Situation

Fleet Sales West (FSW) has set themselves apart from the competition by providing highly customized products. This high customization presents many challenges in determining competitive pricing structure, maintaining supply chain relationships with vendors, and managing constantly changing schedules.

Due to these highly customized products produced by FSW, the company was struggling to build five (5) trucks per month in their Woodburn Oregon assembly facility.  In the fall of 2016 FSW engaged OMEP to assist in transforming their operation to operate under Lean Manufacturing disciplines.

The Solution

Prior to the OMEP facilitated project, assembly technicians would root around in a 4 foot plastic tote for the parts they needed.  Now the components are provided on small portable carts.  The build time for a truck is roughly five days, so there are five carts (one for each day).  Everything necessary for day one is on the day one cart; Nothing is on the cart except what is needed for that day’s build.  It has been estimated that this saves the technician about 30% of their time searching for parts.

Standard work has also been applied.  Instead of each technician being responsible to build a truck from start to finish, more of an assembly line methodology has been adopted.  There is now a day one electrical expert, a day two hydraulic expert and so forth.  This has permitted a more standardized build method to be developed and an easier method for training new technicians.  They are in the process of photographing each step of the process and building a SMART TALENT training program to ensure cross training is easy and repeatable, improving quality and customer satisfaction.

A Kanban (signal card) system has been initiated in the warehouse to assist with inventory management, component storage, and retrieval.  These cards provide a visual signal when supplies are reaching a critical quantity level, thus minimizing part shortages.

The Results

FSW has achieved many of the objectives in their transformation plan.  They are still working hard to move the company toward the next plateau of performance, and OMEP is proud to be part of that effort.

So far FSW has experienced a nearly 100% increase in output, moving from 5 trucks per month to 9 trucks per month.  And the last 3 months have seen 10 trucks per month out the door.  We expect to see even further improvement as the FSW team refines their processes.

We are all so grateful and indebted to you for not only the progress you have helped us make but also for your dedication to our success.

Donna Coe
President

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