CHUTES International – Improving the Workplace

Since 1989, CHUTES International (www.chutes.com) has been delivering quality debris removal systems to general contractors, architects, and building owners, backed by an uncompromising service guarantee. CHUTES International has led the industry in safety, new product development, product improvement, customer education, training and support. From heavy duty steel chutes initially, followed subsequently by durable plastic chutes, CHUTES International has moved into internal chutes, compactors, service, odor control and more. The company is located in a 13K square foot facility in White Plains, Maryland with 50 employees.

Situation:
Chutes International has more than doubled sales revenue since 2010, and is aggressively pursuing all four key strategic initiatives in its bid to double sales revenue again within 5-7 years. Due to increased demand, additional growth potential, and capacity unavailable at the existing site, CHUTES International purchased a nearby existing building, which is currently being refurbished and upgraded, tripling its current facility size while adding the capital equipment necessary to support the targeted revenue growth. The Maryland MEP (a NIST MEP affiliate) was asked to provide workplace kaizen improvement services for the door assembly area, utilizing lean principles in preparation for a 2.5x assembly capacity increase in support of their key strategic initiatives.

Solution:
The Maryland MEP engaged key door assembly shop floor personnel and leadership team members in analyzing existing production volume/mix data and developing the pre-work (e.g., takt time calculations, assembly charts, preliminary layout, etc.) necessary for a workplace mini-kaizen. Drawings of the proposed new assembly area were obtained. Basic lean training (e.g., 8 wastes, single piece flow, takt time versus cycle time, etc.) provided to the assembly subject matter experts kicked off the mini-kaizen, along with a relevant Boeing 737 assembly video. The preliminary layout and required infrastructure was reviewed and amended by the kaizen team after much debate, which jointly defended an assembly area recommendations to the President/Owner, and after some Q&A, the final version was approved.

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