In 2003 Whirltronics took the first steps towards implementing lean manufacturing into our rotary lawn mower blade production, and since then, the company has consistently grown. There was some uncertainty in the beginning, going against the grain of their manufacturing norm, but with the support of Jennifer Lindquist and other team members, Whirltronics would not be where we are at today without lean manufacturing.
Jennifer has been with Whirltronics for over 24 years as part of the engineering and new product development team and is currently the V.P. of the department. She remembers the first time they tested out the lean manufacturing process on the production floor, “We joke about the story one of the foreman said when we first moved two pieces of equipment together. We tried it out and he said, “I don’t know how it works or why it works, it just works.” We reminisce about that, because that was the tipping point for us to say, okay, now you see our vision. You get some buy in, and some belief.”
Lean has transformed Whirltronics into a successful manufacture, allowing us to work with high-level OEMs across the country. In addition to living the lean lifestyle, Whirltronics works with the Minnesota Manufacturers Alliance and partners with other local manufacturers. It’s another way for us to improve our processes, by allowing other manufacturers into our facility to see what we are doing. We receive great feedback from the perspective of someone outside of the company with potential areas of improvement, and they gain value and insight in what we are doing.
In 2015 with lean manufacturing paving the way, Whirltronics added 20,000 square feet to the existing 40,000 square foot building, including a tool room and shop floor expansion. This allowed for a more efficient setup to enhance our lean manufacturing and overall shop floor production flow. In 2018, our shop floor team grew by 20 team members, allowing us to boost production through 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift.
Lean manufacturing allows us to minimize our work-in-progress on the shop floor, which makes our scheduling a lot easier with the single piece flow concept. Lean also benefits our customers. Not only are we providing quality products every run, but we are able to produce products with a make-to-ship mentality. By making our products when we need to ship them, it provides quality products with a guaranteed on-time delivery to our customers.
Jennifer and the dedicated team at Whirltronics strive for continual improvement in the manufacturing process. Being successful with lean has allowed for significant growth in production capacity and long-term relationships with customers. Sharing the story of Whirltronics is one of Jennifer’s favorite things to speak to customers about, because it provides a unique story to the journey and the future of the company, “It is fun for me to talk through what I’ve seen in my 24 years and say here’s where we are, and we have a vision going forward.”
To learn more about our lean manufacturing journey and what’s new with Whirltronics, follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. If you are interested in the capabilities that we can provide as a metal manufacture, please contact us by phone or email: 763-682-1716 | firstname.lastname@example.org