The results of Emerald Transportation Solutions and GaMEP working together have been significant, including:
- Employees at Emerald build three trucks or vans per day, up from 1 to 1.5 trucks they built previously.
- Emerald ended 2021 with 40 employees and now has 65.
- Throughput this year will average 75% more than last year.
Emerald Transportation Solutions is a privately owned, end-to-end provider of refrigerated vans and trucks. Headquartered in Fayetteville, Georgia, with a manufacturing facility in Griffin, Georgia, the company has been around since 2013 and has 65 employees.
After growing steadily from 2013 through 2019, Emerald found its business skyrocketing during the pandemic, as more and more people had groceries — and other necessities — delivered to their homes, causing an increase in the need for last-mile delivery vehicles.
Working to meet this increased demand, Emerald outgrew its space in four buildings and two surface lots in Fayetteville. As leaders searched for ways to build an increased number of vehicles in a more efficient manner, they realized that having to move trucks and vans from building to building as they were assembled was no longer sustainable. With their eyes on a large facility in Griffin that would bring assembly under one roof, leaders contacted the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech to help design a new, more efficient workflow for assembling the vehicles.
In addition, leaders realized that a streamlined system for tracking the information that goes along with building vehicles — VIN numbers, orders, payments, and more — was essential as well. A series of spreadsheets meant that in many cases, the same information had to be updated on multiple sheets by multiple people for every vehicle.
Finally, once the move was complete, employees needed to know how to solve problems in their new environment to keep business speeding along.
Sam Darwin, operational excellence project manager for GaMEP, came in to examine the facilities’ layout, business operations, and sales growth projections. His goal was to design the workflow in the new facility so that it would be possible to efficiently build three vehicles per day (with the goal of increasing that to four per day the following year and five the next).
“Sam worked with the Emerald team and was able to develop a layout that we 90% follow today,” Wes Funsch, Emerald’s COO, said.
The layout involved not just the facility and equipment; it also came to encompass the whole production system. Darwin spoke to employees, watched the way they worked in the four buildings, checked out the new larger building, and got to work.
Similar to an assembly line, Darwin says, Emerald now works on a continuous flow, moving vehicles from station to station, rather than building to building, every few hours, to get them assembled in half the time.
Following the move, David Apple, GaMEP operational excellence project manager, visited Emerald to teach employees a problem-solving course – A3, a method for solving any challenges that might come up in the business. Using problems that Emerald had, he taught employees the step-by-step method for tackling and solving them.
Kelley Hundt, GaMEP East Metro Atlanta region manager, worked with Emerald to resolve their data issues by helping to implement an enterprise resource planning system (ERP). “Going with an ERP system allowed them to have one data repository, with all of the data relating appropriately,” she said. “That reduces efforts to keep track of the information that they need, while at the same time improving the reliability and timeliness of that data.”