For most manufacturers, cutting production lead times means better customer service and a stronger bottom line. While many companies are familiar with Lean and Kaizan approaches to streamlining and optimizing their operations, CAMC member Dowding Industries has seen extraordinary results from adopting the methodology known as Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM).
Dowding CEO Christine Dowding-Metts and President Jeff Metts recently hosted a CAMC Innovation Forum and Facility Tour at their Eaton Rapids headquarters to highlight the power of QRM to cut lead times, harness the talents of their employees, and drive impressive business growth.
In the wake of historic challenges for the manufacturing sector following the 2008 economic crisis, Christine and Jeff began looking for new ways to do business. Their journey with QRM began three years ago and has delivered extraordinary results to-date, including a 71% reduction in production lead time, 62% less scrap, and an 85% reduction in parts travel across the shop floor. QRM has enabled Dowding to cut the time required for new product launches from 12 weeks to just four weeks, and even faster when a customer requires expedited service. Implementing QRM has played a major role in the company’s 72% revenue growth since 2016.
QRM employs a cellular approach that places key components of the production process in close physical proximity to each other. But the changes aren’t limited to the shop floor. All company processes, from front office functions to design and engineering, are mapped out to identify “white spaces” that can be systematically eliminated to cut new product launch and production lead times. Employees are extensively cross-trained to reduce equipment downtime and improve productivity. Jeff Metts emphasized that the successful implementation of QRM also requires a company-wide cultural shift that maximizes employee engagement, ownership and teamwork in designing and implementing process improvements in the workplace.
Dowding’s QRM implementation was recently highlighted in this article published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (qrmcenter.org), which offers training in the QRM system. Dowding Industries also offers regular QRM training sessions that they generously make available to other companies who are interested in learning more about QRM.
CAMC is grateful to Christine, Jeff and the entire Dowding team for opening their doors and sharing their time and knowledge with our members. Click here to see a photo gallery of the CAMC Innovation Forum and Facility Tour at Dowding Industries. Click the button below to view the Powerpoint presentation.