The consultants at the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) serve as experienced guides as Overhead Door Corporation in Grand Island continues its Lean manufacturing journey.
NBDC Lean Enterprise Consultant Renee Held and her follow consultants “really do a great job when it comes to training,” says Overhead Door’s Lean Six Sigma Manager, Kent Kaiser. “We originally looked at doing the training ourselves, but NBDC already has it available. They have always done a great job for us, which is one reason we keep coming back.”
Overhead Door is one of the most recognized and respected brands in the garage door industry. Its nationwide network of more than 450 authorized Ribbon Distributors serve the United States, Canada and Mexico. The company is a leading provider of overhead garage door systems, including its popular upward lifting garage door, and offers hundreds of products in standard and custom forms, including variations in steel, wood, aluminum, insulation type, and colors.
The Overhead Door workplace and culture is a team-oriented environment. “Our Kaizen and Focus Team events include managers and hourly team members,” Kaiser says. “Our events consisting of five to 10 team members require we include a minimum of two hourly team members from the event area; the supervisor of the event area; our Lean Manager; and either the Plant Manager or Production Manager.”
He says the Lean training sessions and other events conducted by Held and NBDC have helped instill a better understanding of efficient manufacturing processes and have worked to build camaraderie. “Through these sessions, our team got to see that we would not only be saving money but we would also be making their jobs easier to do,” he says. “Once we got the buy-in from our team, it really made working at Overhead Door better.”
By establishing a Lean manufacturing culture, Overhead Door has been able to increase sales while decreasing its work force by more than 50 percent, solely through attrition.
The company utilizes several processes to ensure continuous improvement. “During our Gemba walk (where leaders visit the work area to gain insight into processes) we stress using our three key focus areas of Safety, Customer Care, and Operational Excellence as a guide to continuous improvement,” Kaiser says. “A key to helping us on our Lean journey was realizing that we needed to use communication and understanding, which we approached through training our team about Lean, then doing.”
Although the Nebraska division is not responsible for new product development, the state team does offer other Overhead Door divisions suggestions and ideas. “Our creative thinking and the imagination of our team has enabled us to continuously improve our processes, and we strive to reduce or eliminate non-value added process steps on a daily basis,” Kaiser says.
“By educating our people with the NBDC Lean Enterprise Certificate training, and being a host site for the NBDC Lean workshops, we have been able to improve our processes and increase the flow of materials, people and information in ways we did not think possible,” he says. “In turn, we pass on ideas to our corporate engineering department to share with other Overhead Door operations so they can also make the same productivity gains that we have been able to realize.”
Kaiser says NBDC consultants have helped Overhead Door team members became aware of the vital role each person plays in the company’s success. “They know it took every single one of us to get to where we are today,” he says.