What Tennant Asked
Founded in 1870, Tennant Company (TNC), headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a world leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that empower customers to achieve quality cleaning performance, significantly reduce their environmental impact and help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. Its products include equipment for maintaining surfaces in industrial, commercial and outdoor environments; detergent-free and other sustainable cleaning technologies; cleaning tools and supplies; and coatings for protecting, repairing and upgrading surfaces. Tennant’s global field service network is the most extensive in the industry. Tennant Company had sales of $1.0 billion in 2017 and has approximately 4,300 employees. Tennant has manufacturing operations throughout the world; and sells products directly in 15 countries and through distributors in more than 100 countries.
At the end of 2017, Tennant’s Dutch manufacturing and distribution facility, located in Uden, turned to us. Tennant Uden already had some experience with Lean, but the scattered initiatives lacked a systemic coherence and had varying success. A “true north” compass was missing, and one could, therefore, also not really talk about a true Lean transformation.
The ambition with which they turned to us was to create a true and visible breakthrough in their operations, with flow as the focal point of all the efforts.
We thereby would focus on developing a proper value stream strategy for their highly configurable equipment, create a leveled pacemaker in the flow, further move to one-piece flow, and apply the pull principle in their value stream.The results Tennant was after were improved service and productivity, and a reduction in the inventory on hand.
What We Did
In our approach, we started of on the customer-facing side of the operations. You can only properly organize upstream operations once you have established an initial pull. Part of the first phase, therefore, was to transform assembly, testing, and shipping into a just-in-time operation. Furthermore, together with Tennant, we selected a product family (the T12 and T16 Ride-on Scrubber-Dryers) representing a significant volume for the facility.
First thing was to create and train a multi-disciplinary project team. The current state was analyzed in detail through a material and information flow analysis (MIFA), also known as VSM. At the same time, demand, cycle time and performance data were analyzed.
Next, the team started working on designing the future state. The decoupling point and consequently the pacemaker operation was decided, knowing that the equipment Tennant manufactures is highly configurable by their clients.
The required kanban loops were identified and sized, together with the necessary supermarkets for a few runners in the product portfolio. Furthermore, the mix-level-loaded MPS plan and the required order slotting and sequencing process was developed by the team. At the same time, the related truck preparation areas (TPAs) were set up in the distribution area.
In parallel, the assembly line was completely redesigned and re-implemented, together with the line feeding using new tugger trains.
The team made sure the start-up of the new way of working was properly prepared, ensuring work was standardized, and people were trained so that the change-over was smooth.
What Was Delivered
After 1.5 years of working together, the assembly, testing, and shipping operations have been transformed into a closely coupled flow, operating under JIT principles.
In shipping, TPAs have been realized allowing the leveling of assembly and enabling the visual management of Tennant’s on-time delivery performance.
In assembly, a completely new assembly line was realized by the team, yielding improved productivity. The layout also allowed for better parts storage solutions and access for the tugger train supplying the lines.
Production control was completely transformed, with a new MPS process in place supported by new tools. And on the shop floor, heijunka boxes, kanban posts, and launchers were implemented supporting the redesigned information flow that helps to materialize the JIT principles.
To sustain the changes, we worked with management to develop management routines (part of Leader Standard Work or LSW) in which both performance and standards were followed up on a regular basis.
Tennant Uden also started to deploy the approach to other assembly areas within the facility, as well as starting to extend the JIT approach towards their upstream manufacturing operations (roto-molding, sheet metal fabrication, and painting).
Just-in-time manufacturing has resulted in improved productivity, a more stable load across their operations, as well as better customer service. And above all, the team at Tennant Uden has made real progress in their understanding of what Lean can help them to achieve!
He has an incredible understanding of Lean and real hands-on experience. Combining this with tons of energy, ability to work with different levels of professionals in the organization, and true gemba skills, Rob was a perfect match.
We went on a journey of 1.5 years, and now I have a perfect understanding of how Lean can help my organization. Rob made sure knowledge was transferred to all team members and was always available for new challenges.
Today we use Lean to set up and organize our lines and have started with management level processes and behaviors.