Velocity

2013

NovAtel's Annual Journal of GNSS Technology Solutions and Innovation

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Lean Manufacturing er. Leaner. Faced with a surge in its GNSS business that almost overwhelmed its traditional manufacturing processes, the Canadian firm turned to lean manufacturing to help it through its growing pains. Starting from a point where it was struggling to address quality issues and deliver products within weeks, the company now has a product quality that is two to three times better than the industry average and a 95 percent on-time delivery rate for its products. What is particularly notable is that the company's definition of "on time" has changed over the past decade. Customers are now the ones setting delivery dates—and 70 percent of them want product the next day, according to McAloney. "It all started in 2003," he says. The company was just starting to break into the GPS business and getting some great traction. "But we could see the orders coming in, and we could see the new products coming from design, and we knew we were in trouble," McAloney recalls. "We were going to have more products, and we were going to have more demand from customers. But we were already struggling to meet our deliveries and deliver products of quality. We knew we couldn't keep doing what we were doing." Looking for ideas, McAloney and Manufacturing Manager Dennis Ho went to a conference on the subject organized by the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME). For more Solutions visit http:/ /www.novatel.com "It was a five-day conference," McAloney recalls, "and by about Day Three we realized that we had found a new 'religion' on the manufacturing side of our world in terms of how we needed to think about building and delivering product to customers." novatel Builds a Lean Workplace Convinced that "lean" was the way to go, NovAtel joined a local consortium managed by CME Canada's largest trade association, and they hired a trainer to teach "Lean 101" to every person in the operations group. "We spent the day building Lego airplanes of learning," said McAloney. "We learned about onepiece flow and point-of-use material—all these things. So, we started first by training everyone and getting them on board with these concepts… to see what it could do to help us." Then, starting with one of the its simplest products, an antenna, the company began implementing changes—the first steps on what NovAtel employees regularly refer to as the "Lean Journey." "We started experimenting with point-of-use material [handling]," said McAloney, "With small batch builds, we were back-flushing material—we started eliminating all the delays and the waste we could think of." " Customers are now the ones setting delivery dates—and 70 percent of them want " product the next day. —Mike McAloney, NovAtel's vice-president of operations 2013 velocity 41

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