Filter Specialists, Inc.
Plant Manager Gus Roessler says Filter Specialists, Inc. of Grand Island stays competitive by constantly incorporating innovative ideas and improving manufacturing processes, thanks in large part to the training in lean manufacturing techniques employees are receiving from the Nebraska Business Development Center.
Lean manufacturing describes a concept of business operation that uses less human effort, capital investment, floor space, materials, and time in all aspects of production. Lean can improve the bottom line of almost any manufacturing operation. Benefits can include productivity improvements of 10 to 30 percent, up to a 90 percent reduction in work-in-progress, a 50 percent increase of space utilization and improved quality.
"As far as quantifying the impact for us, direct labor costs versus sales have gone down every year the past four years," Roessler says, "and that is important in today’s economy."
Headquartered in Michigan City, Indiana, Filter Specialists, Inc. (FSI) employs 76 people at the Grand Island facility in the manufacture of high volume liquid filtering products for industries including beverage production, oil and gas, health care processing and water systems. The company has sales and manufacturing facilities around the world.
Roessler has been with FSI for 27 years and became plant manager about five years ago. He and his management team have created a culture that involves each employee in developing process improvement plans. Employees have personal goals and work as teams to improve the processes they perform. "We have lean manufacturing projects every year that the teams are responsible for," he says.
FSI began participating in NBDC Lean training in 2005. In 2008, NBDC provided a two-day, 5S (Sort, Set-in-Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain) Workplace Organization event. Currently, FSI has several employees attending NBDC training in Grand Island. FSI was a host company for the class, and held the 5S Workplace Organization workshop on-site.
FSI uses the training in lean manufacturing techniques to improve productivity at the Grand Island plant. New equipment keeps pace with the latest technologies. For example, a new machining center enabled the company to reduce work-in-process inventory by $100,000. It also resulted in a reduction in manufacturing lead times, a more organized flow of goods and improved plant layout.
Roessler says additional equipment upgrades are planned that will allow FSI to supply products with reduced in-house handling and processing.
He credits NBDC consultants and instructors Renee Held and Roger McCullough with presenting information in ways that have an immediate and sustained impact on production.
"Their enthusiasm and knowledge are tremendous, and they present the material so it’s very easy for our employees to learn. It’s been a great benefit to us."