Dakota Bodies - Continuously looking for ways to improve - SD Manufacturing and Technology Solutions
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Dakota Bodies - Continuously looking for ways to improve

Friday, May 25, 2018

Dakota Bodies Infographic


Dakota Bodies began in Watertown SD, 20 years ago with seven employees and has grown into a 255 employee operation that develops and builds truck bodies for the service and industrial markets within the United States and Canada. Since its inception, Dakota Bodies has experienced steady growth but had been experiencing challenges meeting the market demand.


In 2014, 45,000 square feet were added to the facility to improve the production flow and provide space for additional cutting and bending equipment. A Continuous Improvement Engineer was hired to begin the process of implementing Lean Manufacturing. “We quickly learned that formal training of our supervisory team needed to occur for us to be successful,” stated Joel Grode, Director of Production. “This is when I asked a former colleague from Larson Manufacturing who they used – he told me it was South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions (MTS).


We quickly engaged with MTS who conducted an assessment of our operations along with what our goals were and we determined training on Lean 101 was what we needed to do first. We trained 40 people – supervisors, managers, key operators – over the 8-hour course and then conducted four separate on-site projects with MTS.”

“As we continue through our Lean journey we are continuously looking for ways to improve our organization to provide a better product to our customers. The next steps will be training more of our employees in Lean, implementing a Kaizen team, and conducting a door-to-door VSM exercise through our Company. We’re extremely excited about what the possibilities hold for us. Many thanks to the MTS team for leading us at the start of this journey.”

~ Joel Grode, Director of Production


• Developed a kanban system for over 180 part numbers.
• Conducted sixteen 5S events.
• Perform weekly audits on each 5S event area – creating additional manufacturing space through organization and utilization of space – allowing Dakota Bodies to improve revenues by 20% without the expense of an expansion.
• Developed tool carts throughout the factory and eliminated employee toolboxes – saving over 2,200 square feet of room.
• Standardized work practices and reduced training time, gaining consistency and improving quality.
• Developed a “Waste Walk” program. Currently in the second iteration of reviewing the plant, area-by-area for areas of waste reduction.
• 5% increase in overall productivity.


Categories: Success Stories