Automatic Pool Covers, Inc.

Westfield, Indiana


Automatic Pool Covers, Inc. (APC) took its first steps into the industry in 1978 as a small pool cover distributor. APC continued to grow exponentially into the millennium, becoming a leader of the cover distributor industry. As the company continued to grow, they began to use their vast knowledge of the industry to develop and experiment with their own designs with the hope of making the most efficient, convenient and sturdy product. At the beginning of 2003, APC started to put plans into action by manufacturing their first automatic pool covers, leaving no detail - from ease of installation to commercial grade hardware - overlooked. Today, you can find APC products all over the world as they continuously look to develop and better our offerings.

Situation:

APC's growth over the past 35 years was generated by great service, a quality mindset, and market-leading products. They knew their people were the ones who drove those standards and that Lean Manufacturing could unleash even more improvement and creativity in them. Prior to APC's engagement with Purdue TAP, they knew there were opportunities to improve productivity, order response time, inventory levels, and first-pass quality.

Solution:

APC's manufacturing leader, Jacob Bloss, attended one of Purdue TAP's Lean Practitioner certification courses and brought his learnings back to APC. He became the foundation for the company's Lean efforts. APC entered into a long-term engagement with one of TAP's Advanced Manufacturing Specialists, who started them off with two Lean 101 sessions to ensure attendance by every full-time APC employee. These sessions resulted in all of our folks “speaking the same (Lean) language.” APC then conducted a two-day Value Stream Mapping session led by TAP's Advanced Manufacturing Specialist. The first day featured hands-on, Current State mapping of APC's 365 product offering-revealed the waste in our order flow from call to cash; and the second day covered a critical review of the Current State and generation of solutions supporting a better Future State map. APC also held 5S training and implementation, a Plant Layout Improvement kaizen, and biweekly, ongoing Lean consulting with TAP to assist with VSM Future State actions.

Results:

Results from these initiatives include:

  • 68% reduction in order lead time
  • 72% reduction in shipping to invoice timing
  • 20% reduction in floor space utilization
  • Process hand-offs reduced by more than half
  • Overtime reduced by 23% over the prior year, while the business grew more than 10%

Although we have been manufacturing products for over 10 years, since we contracted with the TAP program, we've reduced our manufacturing footprint, reduced process hand-offs, improved productivity, and-most significantly-reduced our manufacturing lead-time by 68%Purdue TAP has been a key partner in our Lean journey.”

- Michael Shebek, President, Automatic Pool Covers, Inc.

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