Agri-Cover, Inc. Reduces Lead Time by Five Days and Improves Teamwork through Lean and Value Stream Mapping
Initially started as a manufacturer of roll tarps for commercial and agriculture trucks, Agri-Cover, Inc. has grown steadily since its founding in 1981. Originally located in a former school building in Courtney, N.D., the company moved several miles south to Jamestown, N.D., in 1995. Agri-Cover, Inc. expanded in this location twice and in 2002 built an additional 65,000 square foot building. The facility expansions and addition are the result of successful, progressive products. From its early days, the company has expanded its product line to include a soft, roll-up tonneau cover, marketed as "Access Cover", which is a pickup cover that conveniently rolls up to provide access to the truck bed. The company's most recent product, a personal utility snow plow called "Snow Sport" has also been a great addition to the line up. Agri-Cover, Inc. currently employs 88 people and distributes its products throughout the United States and Canada.
Needed to Maximize Efficiencies and Improve Employee Involvement
Agri-Cover, Inc. recognized that to sustain its success and manage its quick growth, it needed to seek ways to maximize plant efficiency and maintain a high level of employee involvement. Before moving into the new building, Agri-Cover, Inc. sought the assistance of the Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Impact Dakota), a NIST MEP network affiliate, to guide the company through the Lean process. They wanted to incorporate Lean Manufacturing techniques into the new addition from the very beginning, according to Bryan Miller, assistant vice president.
Lean Tools, Value Stream Mapping
As a first step in the process, the Impact Dakota worked with Agri-Cover, Inc. to introduce the principles of Lean manufacturing to all production employees. Impact Dakota presented a Lean 101 Workshop, thereby providing all team members with the knowledge and necessary tools to advance to the next stage of lean transformation. Then, MEP's manufacturing specialists went on the production floors to help with Value Stream Mapping at both the old and new locations. All employees were involved and suggested efficiencies at their work posts. Corrections were made to lines that were unbalanced resulting in increased production.
Reduced Lead Time by Five Days and Improved Employee Teamwork
- Reduced lead time by five days.
- Reduced defects by working with suppliers on non-conforming parts.
- Reduced space required for inventory.
- Encouraged a sense of teamwork and improved the understanding level of employees.
- Put in an employee suggestion box.
"We saw an opportunity to be efficient and work as a team. Impact Dakota helped us become more effective and efficient. They did a great job. We still have weekly meetings where we discuss Lean principles. We are on a continuous improvement journey thanks to Impact Dakota."
-- Bryan Miller, Assistant Vice President, Agri-Cover, Inc.