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When some companies set out to overhaul their assembly-line efficiencies, lean manufacturing strategies are the only step. Not so at Herman Miller, the Zeeland, Mich.-based office furniture maker.
Back in 1996, Herman Miller set out to overhaul its assembly line production system, specifically within its pedestal files manufacturer, Integrated Metals Technology (IMT). In order to reduce lead times and increase reliability (the levels of which were at 70 percent) Herman Miller turned to Toyota's Supplier Support Center for an example to emulate. The two companies collaborated in creating the Herman Miller Production System (HMPS)--an aggressive approach to lean manufacturing and kaizen that the company rolled out over several years. Seven years later, in 2003, Integrated Metals Technology could boast near-100 percent reliability, and Herman Miller was quite pleased with cost savings attained thanks to HMPS.
But the story doesn't end there. Not long after IMT reported gains in reliability and tighter lead times, the company "started hitting a brick wall," says Drew Schramm, Herman Miller's senior vice president of global supply and quality. It was no time for the company to rest on its laurels. There was still a lot of work to be done. Lean was just the first step, not the only step.
Source: Purchasing, http://www.purchasing.com
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