GrovTec US, Inc. is a contract manufacturer of aerospace and defense parts that serves multiple industries and has a large footprint in retail firearms accessories for hunters, American service members, and shooting sports competitors. Based in Wood Village, Oregon, they have a reputation for superior design, exacting tolerances, and durability. Grovtec continues to be an innovator with regards to shooting accessories, holding multiple patents on their swivels and hardware. With 27 years of experience in the Shooting Industry, GrovTec’s guiding principle is to focus on American-made quality while diversifying into contract machining work.
Grovtec reached out to OMEP to improve their throughput and increase capacity. Due to increasing market demands, they wanted to ensure a faster turnaround time for customers. The Grovtec team also understood that as a mid-sized manufacturer they needed to embrace digital and advanced technology, but weren’t certain which technologies would give them the competitive edge they wanted. They were looking for guidance and support to ensure they stayed competitive.
When Grovtec reached out to OMEP, their Quality Control (QC) department was a constraint, since multiple departments fed work to the QC team. An excessive amount of time was spent tracking orders, and prioritization of work was difficult. The existing layout did not accommodate the team’s needs, and caused pace issues. Finally, the QC team performed many required repetitive manual tasks which caused fatigue and burnout among employees.
In collaboration with Grovtec, OMEP analyzed the Quality Control area by creating a value stream map. Value stream mapping (VSM) is a diagnostic tool used to identify waste, improve flow, and ultimately improve the efficiency in company processes. Insights from the VSM were pulled together to create an implementation plan detailing the improvement efforts necessary to achieve a future-state workflow with extensively less waste.
OMEP focused on creating an improved manual system and accountability structure to proactively communicate product status throughout the organization. They set up scheduling boards and exception reporting to better communicate target outputs and obstacles for problem-solving.
Drawing on lean principles of eliminating waste such as excess movement, the layout of not only the QC area but also the packaging and shipping departments were evaluated and revised. Their goal was to align the packaging teams and move the departments together for better team dynamics and communication
OMEP tested a Sawyer Cobot on-site to perform the repetitive and manual work being done by humans on the QC team. Because Grovtec values their employees, they wanted to take care of them, not replace them. OMEP shared with the Grovtec team that cobots (or robots) do not replace operators or take jobs from employees. Instead, they work collaboratively with operators to perform dangerous or repetitive tasks. This allows operators to obtain more knowledge and develop other valuable skill sets because they are freed from repetitive work.
Finally, OMEP partnered with Grovtec to evaluate their ERP system and make updated recommendations. OMEP worked with the process teams at Grovtec to map out how software is being utilized in their current workflow. Using this map to identify key areas of rework, excess processing, and information delays, OMEP was able to provide a critical path list of requirements to be used for software selection.
Grovtec has now created visual communication boards for several processes within their facility and improved their capacity through lean continuous improvements. As a result, they have saved $200,000. They’ve retained all sales and added an additional $450,000 in new sales as a result of their improved capacity.
All 80 jobs retained, and workers are now free to all value by continuing lean improvements. Grovtec is set up for continued success and competitive advantage by harnessing new technologies and improving processes.
Working with OMEP has been fun and successful. It is always good to get an outside perspective and we can trust in the team at OMEP to help with their expertise. Their help has pushed us to improve ourselves faster and more effectively as we are growing.