Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions
ASMC Member Providing Hands-On Help through Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions
The Glove Corporation (Glove) is a protective gloves manufacturer located in Heber Springs, Arkansas. Established in 1952, the company hand crafts gloves for military, fire, utility, and government use. It has been ISO 9001 certified for a number of years. One out of every three firefighters in the United States wears gloves made by Glove. Currently, Glove employs 65 people at its Heber Springs facility.
In early 2003, Tony Moore joined Glove as the General Manager. He soon recognized there were many opportunities for improvement of the operations. In April 2004, Mr. Moore got in touch with Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions (AMS), a NIST MEP network affiliate, through a Lean 101 event hosted by Arkansas State University at Heber Springs. Recognizing the impacts of the Lean Manufacturing techniques, Tony retained AMS immediately after the event to review the plant and established a plan of action.
AMS Project Managers met with Mr. Moore and other Glove associates in April 2004 to decide on an implementation plan for Lean Manufacturing using cell production. After initial classroom training with supervisors and key employees, Kaizen events started happening at Glove. The first event was to Value Stream Map (VSM) the Fireglove line. From the VSM, it was determined that the Fireglove line could best benefit with the implementation of cell technology. AMS and the Glove associates implemented the Fireglove Cell in the Fall of 2004. Improvements in lead time and productivity were almost immediately seen. After the success of the Fireglove line, AMS and Glove associates implemented a cell for the Utility gloves and a cell for the Staple glove line. They have also established a “continuous improvement” attitude throughout the plant. A 5S Kaizen was done in early summer of 2005 during which some machines were given their first real cleaning in over 40 years. Glove continues to train employees, both existing and new hires, in the Lean philosophy. In mid-2004, Glove won a bid to produce a military combat glove formerly made in China. The gloves are destined for locations around the globe. The company has increased orders and improved its facilities using space saved from the implementation of Lean. Glove was recently asked to bid for a new contract for gloves for the US military; this contract would once again return manufacturing work from overseas.
- Reduced delivery times from 22 days to 3 days.
- $600,000 backlog is now “build to order.”
- Improved productivity of sewing Firegloves by 40 percent.
- Reduced required floor space by 50 percent.
- Decreased turnover rate to almost zero.
- Increased plant-wide production of “Gloves per man hour” from 1.59 to 2.14.
- Improved cutting productivity by 30 percent.
- Reduced product travel by 40 percent.
- Replaced inspection stations with in-line Quality at the Source.
- Awarded a contract to produce a global military combat glove formerly made in China.
- Encouraged to bid on new contract for gloves for U.S. military.
“The State of Arkansas has been a great help in implementing new manufacturing called Lean Manufacturing. With this help, we are able to speed up delivery from 22 days down to just three. What was once made in China is now being made in the United States. We’ve got more orders now than we’ve ever had in the past, and we are looking to implement new lines.”
Tony Moore, General Manager