Ernest to the Rescue: Operational Efficiency Gets an Overhaul
March 22, 2016
Frameworks Assa Abloy, a Houston-based interior aluminum window and door frame manufacturer and an Assa Abloy company, needed to improve its logistical efficiency. Packaging large construction materials for shipping across the country was slow and tedious work, impacting the bottom line, worker safety and employee morale.
“We had one employee who was getting fed up with blisters caused by the manual wrapping of large windows,” Ted Owczarzak, Profit Center Manager for Frameworks Assa Abloy, said. “We knew we had a problem, but didn’t know all of our options available to fix it.”
Justin Cherry, Ernest Packaging’s Client Relationship Manager for Frameworks Assa Abloy, recalled how the process started, “Ted came to me with specific goals for improvements. He needed changes in the overall packaging program and asked for us to help identify the areas for improvement that could ultimately increase company profitability.”
Justin brought in Tim Tisher, Automation and Food Packaging Design Specialist with Ernest Packaging, to identify new opportunities for the product line to increase ROI.
The Ernest Solution
“The processes are pretty similar to others that we’ve implemented for over ten years at Ernest,” said Tisher. “We look at what they’re currently doing, find ways to reduce material use, listen to the workers’ needs and then take what we know about packaging automation and put it to use.”
Ernest was well-positioned to observe the operational process and make recommendations based on the long-standing relationship with Frameworks Assa Abloy. After studying the particular setup and operations of the packaging assembly line, initial recommendations were delivered to company executives. Plans were finalized, and the process was begun.
“We wanted to give Ernest as much information and access to our operations as we could,” said Owczarzak. “It’s a very contextual process, and we trusted Ernest to find the right solution.”
The three-phase approach tackled the largest losses of effort and time. The redesign portion focused on improving worker safety (and getting rid of those darn blisters!). The labor-intensive manual packaging and wrapping process became automated, and the worker stations were repositioned for maximum efficiency. Additionally, less wasted effort led to fewer workers suffering from fatigue—a dangerous issue in factories with heavy machinery and moving parts.
Using existing machinery when possible and installing new automated processes where needed, created a new, streamlined process. This led to the efficient use of space and labor. Vacuum lifts meant that two workers were no longer lifting 100-lb boxes, but instead applying a single pound of pressure to the machine.
“The amount of exhaustive labor we have saved Frameworks Assa Abloy’s workers is outstanding and many of those employees are being repositioned for better use in the factory,” says Owczarzak.
Daniel, the operator, says because of the vacuum lift he no longer has nagging back pain from picking up to 300 boxes every day. He also no longer gets blisters because the strapping machine takes the place of the filament taping he used to perform.
The cost-savings are expected to be realized within eight months of complete implementation, which is expected to take about one year. Also, worker safety and morale have improved, creating a happier and more profitable place to work.
“One benefit we didn’t plan on enjoying as much as we are is the increased professionalism of our packaging,” Owczarzak said. “We have more consistency in our presentation with no more loose straps and tape. It looks more professional than before, and our President is quite happy about that.” He said that Frameworks Assa Abloy will be looking to add this process to other facilities in the near future. “I can’t thank Ernest Packaging enough for the work they’ve done, and continue to do, for our operations.”
Justin Cherry states that Ernest’s work isn’t done, “We’re always thinking about ways to help them become a faster, safer, more profitable company. We’re committed to helping them for years to come.”
Are you in need of a new piece of packaging equipment or an entire overhaul of operations to find efficiency? Either way, our team stands ready to help identify areas for safety and profitability improvements. Contact Ernest Packaging Solutions to evaluate your packaging operations today.