Superior Products Continuous Improvement Efforts Recognized with
Smart Business Magazine’s 2013 Evolution of Manufacturing Award
Superior Products, LLC offers a broad range of products and services to customers at competitive prices and with better logistical services. Lean manufacturing principles are integral in finding ways to offer customers more service with less cost. By implementing new technology to improve operational efficiency, Superior Products is able to evolve its lean manufacturing and effectively compete in a global economy and changing manufacturing world.
As low-cost competition from overseas entered into the U.S. market, Superior Products began evolving its operations to remain price competitive. Lean manufacturing allows Superior Products to reduce wasteful business practices and capitalize on new efficiencies, keeping costs to a minimum. For example, Superior Products utilizes a bar coding system that tracks parts and automates data entry from machining, through the plant, through the parts cleaning process, to packaging, shipping, and invoicing. Bar coding not only saves time compared to manually typing data and batch-entering time sheets, but greatly reduces the number of errors associated with manual data entry. When information was being typed or recorded by hand the accuracy rate of shipments was approximately 90 percent due to lost tickets, typographical errors, and other human errors. The use of bar codes to control all parts and assemblies has increased the accuracy rate to over 99.0 percent and eliminated the need for annual audits. The increased accuracy and improved efficiency in operations amount to thousands of dollars worth of time savings.
Another notable example of Superior Products lean manufacturing operations is its new parts cleaning system that improves both the efficiency and effectiveness of the parts cleaning process. Superior Products implemented a new Durr EcoClean part cleaning system and plant layout plan that reduces product flow and cost while increasing the quality and consistency of the cleaning process. The old parts cleaning system required parts to travel an average of 460 meters. With the new parts cleaning system, the product flow has been reduced to an average of 190 meters. The new parts cleaning system also reduces Superior Products’ waste stream into the environment. By implementing the Durr EcoClean system Superior Products is saving over 2,000,000 gallons of water per year, a 98.5% reduction in water usage.
In addition to allowing Superior Products to remain cost-competitive in the marketplace, lean principles and operational efficiencies add value by providing the means for Superior Products to offer customers an unmatched and comprehensive level of support. Superior Products uses new technology and software to manage customers’ logistics, inventories, and orders. Up-to-date operational data is available on the company’s intranet and can be accessed at any time, from any location, with a web enabled device. The increased ease of access to data has played an important role in allowing Superior Products to service more than 1,000 customers worldwide with over 3,500 products. With these advances in information technology, Superior can cut call times in half with greater customer satisfaction
Leveraging its internal data management competencies, Superior Products has developed a customer management system that makes it easier for customers to manage their supply chain. The customer management system provides around the clock access to part pricing and availability, shipment tracking, procurement planning, inventory management, quotes, orders, invoices, part specifications, quality control, and account information. By managing customers’ logistics while offering a high level of visibility of information, Superior Products is able to extend lean principles into customers operations. Customers are able to minimize their need to carry large amounts of inventory and purchasing managers are provided with metrics to easily decide when to order. Some Original Equipment Manufacturers partner with Superior Products to automate the inventory replenishment process through a Kanban system. In some cases, Superior Products’ customers do not carry any inventory at all. For example, one customer relies on Superior Products to manage the customer’s entire gas management system supply chain. Superior Products manufactures and inventories hospital manifolds packaged in boxes with the customer’s name and logo on the box. When the customer receives an order from a hospital, Superior Products drop ships the manifolds (packaged in the customer’s box) directly to the hospital.
f Superior Products had continued to manage its business with 1990s practices, Superior Products would now have 46 percent more employees. Evolving with new technology and implementing operational efficiencies has allowed Superior Products to compete globally in the changing manufacturing world. Bar coding is used to save time and improve accuracy, while a strategically structured parts cleaning process improves quality, consistency, and product flow. New technology is used to efficiently manage inventory, logistics, and orders for both Superior Products and its customers. These operational improvements and advances in technology will allow Superior Products, LLC to continue providing customers around the world with competitively priced products and better logistical services.
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