Trail-Eze Triumphs with Lean Cert - SD Manufacturing and Technology Solutions
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Trail-Eze Triumphs with Lean Cert

Friday, December 6, 2019

By Sara Wevik  December 6, 2019

ABOUT - High quality, service-oriented, and growing is what plant manager Jeff Engebretson used to describe Trail-Eze, an equipment trailer manufacturer located in Mitchell, Platte, and Corsica South Dakota. The third-generation family-owned and operated business has more than 55 years of experience constructing heavy-duty trailers. Those who own a Trail-Eze trailer know the trailers are manufactured with exceptional design and functionality.

CHALLENGE - Jeff works at the facility in Platte with 26 employees. As the company continued to grow and the demand for trailers increased, Jeff decided to enroll in the Lean Certification Course, offered by South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions. He wanted to gain a deeper understanding of Lean and learn how he could apply the concepts he learned in the classroom to the flow of product at his facility. Furthermore, he wanted to develop his people and familiarize them with lean manufacturing so that they could increase productivity.   

SOLUTION - A lot can change over the course of a few weeks. Equipped with zeal and new knowledge, Jeff started to brainstorm changes he could make throughout the facility. During the eight-week course, Jeff learned about everything from value stream mapping to quick changeover and problem-solving.  He used the proven concepts he learned in the classroom and applied them to improvement opportunities in his own facility.

A big win for the facility included switching from a push system to a pull system, which eliminated overproduction and allowed them to flex their workers to attack constraints. The change not only improved quality, but also freed up floor space because of the reduced inventory. The freed up floor space allowed them to shut down power on an entire building, because they no longer needed the room for inventory, raw materials or production. Instead, they stored raw materials at point-of-use. Moving from a push system to a pull system also allowed them to reduce their build times, which improved their lead-time, reduced their manufacturing costs and improved their productivity. They were able to cross-train employees, which made them agile and able to do a variety of different tasks if needed.

Overall, the course was more than just a mere certification. It provided Jeff and his team with knowledge, confidence, and guidance to transform their plant into an efficient, high-performing manufacturing operation.

By attending the Lean Certification Course and applying what he learned to his facility, Jeff was able to report:

  • Reduced 2,400 square feet of floor space
  • Increased productivity through optimizing material flow.
  • Decreased the number of forklifts needed from 13 to 5 and decreased the number of hours operators spent on material handling from an average of 54 hours each day to 10 hour or less.
  • Reduced build time on trailers by over 30%
  • Increased capacity at the Platte location to have the availability to take on three additional trailer models from other Trail-Eze plants, which subsequently helped those plants improve their lead times for their remaining trailers and reduced their dependency on overtime.

South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions is an organization dedicated to assisting manufacturers with developing and implementing lean initiatives. If you are interested in getting started on your lean journey or want help continuing through your journey, contact us today


Categories: Success Stories