June 18, 2012
Tim Maxwell started Max Manufacturing in 2007. The 10-employee firm, located in Pelham, Ga., produces standalone ice-vending buildings that stand 15 feet tall and are 16 feet long. The buildings are essentially giant ice-vending machines, dispensing bags of ice and water to the public. Max’s customers buy the buildings, which can produce up to 10,000 pounds of ice per day, and install them on commercial land they either own or lease.
After building a couple of prototypes, Max Manufacturing was nearly ready to begin manufacturing the buildings on a commercial scale by 2008. However, Maxwell was unsure how to organize the production process at his 18,000-square-foot plant in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
In summer 2008, John Stephens and Art Ford of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech began working with Max Manufacturing. The two worked diligently with the company to incorporate the lean philosophy, which eliminates waste in production processes, into its factory operations.
The two designed an efficient plant layout in AutoCad, schooled the firm in point-of-use storage, helped Max Manufacturing create and maintain a clean and orderly workplace by teaching employees about the 5S process, which is “sort,” “set in order,” “shine,” “standardize” and “sustain.”
- Max Manufacturing is able to complete a “Just Ice” building within four days of receiving an order.
- The company has $3 million in annual sales and estimates that the quick and efficient production process developed in collaboration with GaMEP has increased revenues by as much as $1 million annually.
- Max Manufacturing estimates that its embrace of lean, with its emphasis on minimizing inventories, saves up to $40,000 a year in expenses.
“GaMEP is a fantastic partner,” said Tim Maxwell, the president, owner and founder of Max Manufacturing. “No matter what you ask for, they jump through hoops to give it to you.”