Success Story: Unilux Advanced Manufacturing Recaptures Market Share and Realizes More Than $1.2 Million in Impacts with CEG BGS
For over 38 years Unilux Advanced Manufacturing has been making watertube and firetube boilers used by energy service companies and various facilities, including commercial and industrial buildings, high-rise residential towers, hospitals, military installations and schools. Unilux’s “bread-and-butter boiler is the Unilux “W” Series water boilers. Like all of its boilers, it carries a 25-year warranty, though many last up to 40 years, making quality construction an imperative and corner cutting untenable. Over the past few years Unilux’s management had seen competitors capture more of the W Series’ market share. Enhancing Unilux competitiveness was “a necessity,” said Mickey Lavicska, Unilux’s vice president of exterior relations.
In October 2016, Unilux began with CEG’s Principles of Lean Manufacturing course which was provided to half of Unilux’s manufacturing team ensuring uninterrupted production. Trainees participated in a hands-on four-round simulation exercise. During the first round the trainees were only able to deliver about 10 percent of an order with on-time delivery. The instructor promised the students they’d be able to deliver the units with 95 percent on-time delivery by the end of the third round. Lavicska quickly picked up on the workers’ skepticism; however, having previously attended Lean at his former employers he believed the instructor.
“I know what happens, but did not let the cat out of the bag.”
Over the following two rounds, the instructor introduced various principles which enabled the Unilux team to produce units with 95 percent on-time delivery.
“That’s what turned on the light bulb for these guys,” said Lavicska.
Unilux continued the Lean work in the following months with a Value Stream Mapping (VSM) analysis of the company’s “W” Series Boiler Product Family followed by related Kaizen improvements based on the VSM data; the completion of a team charter identifying specific objectives, resources and timeline for accomplishment; and, other Lean elements in the machining and assembly production areas. The goal of these projects was to reorganize the general manufacturing area to improve work flow, increase capacity (with existing resources), better utilize floor space and reduce overall lead times. Unilux’s Kaizen teams have exceeded their targeted outcomes. Where it had taken 12 to 14 weeks to deliver a boiler, the improved work flow and reduced shop wait time has brought deliverables down to eight to 10 weeks – and in some cases six to eight weeks. Those reduced labor hours have translated into reduced, more competitive pricing and the recapturing of market share.
Unilux’s Controller, Brian Champagne, participated in CEG’s Lean Finance & Accounting workshop as part of this project. He states “I went to the Lean Accounting training knowing what Lean Manufacturing was but not ‘Lean Accounting.’ The training gave me a clearer understanding of the potential financial statement impact of Lean manufacturing especially as it relates to inventory reduction. It also provided some important new metrics to better measure the impact of Lean and how to have the accounting/finance function be more efficient and effective. Even though this is my third employer undergoing lean manufacturing, I would recommend this class to anyone going through Lean for the first time.”
Lastly, Unilux benefitted from putting an inside sales professional through six months of Sandler Sales Mastery; Laviscka states, “We sent our inside sales engineer to this training to build his customer assertiveness in transitioning him into an outside sales person in the future. As a result, we are able to better pinpoint customer requirements and offer more comprehensive and timely answers. In addition, we hold our field representatives more accountable for quotations and follow-ups associated with winning the sale.”
A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) survey found the CEG BGS guidance Unilux received had the following results:
- Increased sales: $250,000
- Retained sales: $200,000
- Jobs created: 2
- Jobs retained: 37
- Cost savings: $440,000
- New plant equipment: $20,000
- New information systems or software: 28,000
- Workforce practices: $31,000
- New products and processes: $280,000
- Total Economic Impact: $1,249,000
Unilux continues to pursue company-wide improvements with an eye toward global growth.
To learn how CEG BGS could help your company, contact CEG BGS Director Michael Lobsinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518-465-8975 X238.