Success Stories

Process Improvements and Quality at Source Results in Cost Savings and an Increase in Productivity

TMI Systems Corporation

Founded in 1969, TMI Systems Corporation (TMI), a family-owned business located in Dickinson, ND, is one of the nation's largest manufacturers of laminate casework, countertops, and architectural woodwork products.  TMI delivers highly customized products including storage solutions for institutional markets including education, healthcare, laboratory, architectural woodwork, and commercial projects.

TMI's mission statement is "TMI Cares." It is TMI's mission to care about its customers, employees, and community.  TMI provides its customers with quality products and service them in a legendary way. TMI is committed to the continued development of its human assets.  TMI supports improvement of the community and its economic growth.

TMI utilizes the highest quality raw materials and hardware to design and manufacture products that withstand the toughest environments.  In addition to exceptional quality, the company is able to produce the most highly customizable laminate clad product line in the industry.

TMI’s main facility includes various areas housing different processes for cutting, milling, and edge banding feeding the final assembly line.  The assembly line had become a bottleneck creating a number of issues including high work-in-process consuming productive spaces and negatively impacting the productivity.  The assembly processes include door and all hardware installation, cleaning and inspection.  Initially it was thought that increasing the final assembly area my help to eliminate or alleviate this problem. 

During the initial visit by Impact Dakota staff it was observed that final assembly personnel spend a vast majority of their time correcting issues from upstream processes adversely affecting the final assembly line throughput.  A summary report was submitted to TMI reflecting Impact Dakota’s observations.  The summary also included an outline of activities to explore; opportunities for improving the productivity of the final assembly line and upstream processes.

Impact Dakota evaluated the current casework assembly manufacturing process, flow, layout, work methods and production/performance data.  The constraint was identified as the final assembly process from the clamp through strapping/packaging.  Major contributors making final assembly a constraint was some of the upstream processes which left excess glue and black marking on the surface of panels.  Black markings were caused by conveyor rollers and the excess glue was mainly due to equipment capability to apply uniform amount of glue.  There was excess glue also during the clamping operations.  All of these process issues resulted in final assembly operators spending non-productive but necessary time to clean excess glues and black markings.  This non-productive time kept the products, many of them bulky, in the assembly area creating space constraints.

The company was aware of the issues with upstream processing equipment and was researching to replace them.  However, one thing that surfaced was there was a need to train and educate workforce emphasizing, amongst other things, the concept of “quality at source.”  The contributions made by Impact Dakota helped to significantly improve the daily production output of cabinets through, in addition to “quality at source”, the application of Lean principles, 5S, and facility layout.

Since the completion of agreed-upon project and agreed upon deliverables, TMI has made major strides improving productivity through investing in the state of the art equipment while working continuously training employees in productivity improvement tools.

Productivity and Time (space and workforce) - Better use of the space by improving the layout and using state of the art processing equipment, and use of lean tools including quality at source have resulted in significant productivity improvement. (10% improvement)

New Investment - To meet the needs of the growing market, TMI needed to improve quality its resources but also had realized the need to invest in state of the art equipment. ($5 million investment)

Culture - One of the challenges of any productivity improvement efforts is sustaining the changes.  More employees now follow the new standards including and have better appreciation of “quality at source” and its impact on productivity.

Cost Savings - New investments in equipment and training, positive shifts in culture, and application of lean tools have resulted in dramatic and measurable productivity improvements enabling the company to realize cost savings.  This cost savings has further enhanced the company’s competitive priorities enabling to better compete in the market.

“IMPACT Dakota helped TMI identify processes that were affecting our assembly area which is our production pace setter. "Quality at the Source" is now ingrained in our culture throughout the company. Practicing Quality at the Source is used in the factory and in the office to improve process flow and reduce rework.”

Tom G. Krank – Senior Vice President & General Manager

Latest Success Stories

More Sucess Stories

Impact Dakota Blog