February 14, 2012
Leon Osborne started Osborne Wood Products in the garage of his Toccoa, Ga., home in 1979. Today, the firm, which produces a variety of items - including corbels, table legs, kitchen island legs and other items - for furniture manufacturers and individual users, sits on a sprawling campus nearby and ships more than 3,000 items per week.
By the start of the new millennium, Leon Osborne had grown frustrated by the amount of time it was taking to set up machinery for production runs. This overall lack of nimbleness meant the company often could not quickly fulfill customers’ orders. The company was routinely taking eight weeks to fulfill an order for a custom product and 12 days to produce out-of-stock items. “We needed to change,” Leon Osborne said.
In late 2007, Bill Ritsch, Karen Fite and Tara Barrett of Georgia Tech’s Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) conducted a two-day lean workshop at Osborne Wood’s Toccoa, Ga., offices and then continued to consult with the company to maintain adherence to lean principles.
The instruction showed the company how to eliminate wasted movements and create efficient procedures on the production floor. The immersion into lean techniques has allowed Osborne Wood to slash machinery set-up times and increase the variety of products that it produces during a given timeframe.
- Reduced machinery set-up times by 87 percent, from an average of 30 minutes to an average of 4 minutes.
- Reduced the size of a typical production run from 60 items to no more than 12 items.
- Increased to 92 percent the number of orders that Osborne Wood ships the day it receives them. Before adopting lean, the company was only able to ship 80 percent of its orders within three days of receiving them.
- Increased the number of orders shipped each week to more than 3,000.
- Boosted sales by 20 percent in 2011 compared with the year before, a result that the company says is due in part to its quick turnaround times.
“We can produce product quickly and effectively,” said Leon Osborne, the owner and founder of the company. “We have created a standard of customer service that is difficult for our competitors to match.”