Implementing Flow Lines Saves $200K and Increases Throughput by 30%

One of the key elements on my American Lean Weekday podcast is the weekly interviews that I conduct with companies on their Lean Journey.  These companies are from various industries and are all different sizes.  I have interviewed leaders from family-owned businesses to multi-national organizations.  This podcast can be found here.  It is episode eighty-two of the American Lean Weekday podcast

Geater Machining and Manufacturing are headquartered in Independence, Iowa.  They employ roughly 500 employees in their world-class machine shop.


These are some key points taken from my interview with the Manager of Finishing Operations, Ashley Osbourne.

Ashley manages five departments at Geater that prep parts, paint parts, de-prep parts, and mark or screen print parts.  She also manages the in-house chemical line and the powder coat area.

  1. “When we did our first Rapid Improvement Event we were 600-800 hours behind in the paint department.  Analyzing the top paint usage we separated the booths, reduced change over time, and installed In-Process-Kanbans or IPK’s to keep work moving to the painters.”
  2. “Then the bottleneck moved to our preparation operations. We had to do something there to keep up.”
  3. We implemented flow lines for the de-prep operations.  This was a huge culture shift.  Employees went from working on one job at a time but doing the whole job, to only doing their part as part of the line.
  4. “Out least experienced operator did the simplest job, then the next most experienced operator did the paint knifing, then the most experienced operator does the paint touch-up. This also made our training much easier.”
  5. “The results from 2018 to 2019 were that we reduced the rework hours from 6300 a year to 2600 hours a year. Our re-work cost went from $385,000 to $186,000 which is a $200,000 reduction.”
  6. “Get management aligned, then attack your most pressing problems. It’s also important to get employee buy-in.”

As always, it is an honor to serve you and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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