The GaMEP has helped Advanced Metal Components:
- Train 100 percent of their front-line leaders.
- Move and redesign their 12,000 square foot customer operation of manufacturing, warehouse and distribution, to a 17,000 square foot layout.
- Take this same customer operation from 16 to 12 people and reutilize the four people into other areas of AMC’s operation for better productivity.
- Improve safety by 100 percent now that material is in designated spaces and the process flow has been improved.
In 1977, an engineer and entrepreneur bought a punch press, and along with his wife, opened the doors to what would become Advanced Metal Components (AMC), a state-of-the-art fabrication shop and contract manufacturer in Swainsboro, Georgia.
Their son, Doug Brown, began working in the plant in high school. Brown said, “My first job, at 13, was to paint the bathrooms in the facility.” He continued to work there until he moved to Atlanta to attend Georgia Tech, and then moved back to his hometown to begin his career at the family business. In 2001, Brown took over the business operations and today, he is the president of Advanced Metal Components.
A few years ago, as the economy was rebounding, AMC was facing the same situation many manufacturers and businesses across the country were encountering – regaining the business lost in the economic downturn. Brown knew the most important task for the company to focus on, as they prepared for the growth they were expecting, was to train their front-line supervisors. He recalled, “Many of our team members had worked their way up to leadership positions, but they didn’t have formal training. It was important to educate them on problem-solving skills and dealing with employees, if we were going to be able to support the intended growth of the business.”
At this time, Brown invited Alan Barfoot, region manager, and Charity Stevens, project manager, with the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech to visit his plant. He said, “We had been working with GaMEP for years and wanted to utilize their front-line leader training to support our organization.”
Once the formal front-line leader training culminated, GaMEP and AMC implemented Managing for Daily Improvement, which was a set of tactics designed to provide daily real-time communication between these same supervisors and the management team, providing continual feedback.
Brown said, “Now that we had the outcomes of the leadership training in place, AMC needed to start looking at our processes.”
The previous year, the company had taken on not only a new customer but a new line of business for that customer. They were going to first manufacture their customer’s product and now, for the first time, were going to be the warehouse and distribution arm for that customer as well. When AMC first took on this customer, they were handling the business in three different parts of the facility – racks on one side of the building, assembly area in another, and an underutilized corner of the plant for overflow. The process worked well enough until the customer quadrupled their business in one year. Now AMC had to figure out a way to make their process more seamless, in order to keep up with their customer’s growth.
Stevens met with Brown and his team to rethink the layout. They combined the customer’s operation – manufacturing, warehouse, and distribution, into one area of the facility, and expanded the space AMC used to support this customer by 5,000 square feet.
During this same process, AMC quickly realized that they needed to move their own shipping department to make room for this customer’s new layout. As part of this change, the company put up new racks, reconfigured their work stations to account for kitting parts (which was where numerous parts that were manufactured had to be combined to ship together), and educated their team on the new layout and flow for their shipping operations. Now AMC is currently examining their kitting process as a whole, to ensure that the right parts are getting to the kitting department at the same time.
As a next step to become more efficient, AMC has identified the need to get more productivity out of their paint line. Brown said, “Our paint line has more conveyor line stops than we feel it should and we see an opportunity to increase production by maximizing our hanging density and reducing gaps between color changes.” The company is working with Stevens to install an automatic data recorder to track this information and gain a baseline, so that they can determine what’s causing the line to stop and identify ways to increase productivity.