Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center
ASMC Member Providing Hands-On Help through the Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center
Birchwood Lumber and Veneer manufactures architectural doorskins and high quality hardwood panels for a variety of residential and commercial applications, including cut to size panels and lumber core. Located in Birchwood, Wisconsin, they employ 200 people, and have been in business for 102 years.
Birchwood Lumber and Veneer was enjoying expanding markets for its products; however, domestic and international competitors were aggressively pursuing these markets. Management decided that the company could effectively compete on quality, speed to market, and meeting its customers’ needs. However, it needed to increase flexibility and reduce lead time. Also, many of its customers were using Value Stream Mapping. Early in 2004, Birchwood Lumber and Veneer decided to request the assistance of the Northwest Wisconsin Manufacturing Outreach Center (NWMOC), a NIST MEP network affiliate, with a Value Stream Mapping project.
Two NWMOC project managers facilitated a Value Stream Mapping Event in which manufacturing supervisors and management developed a current Value Stream Map (VSM) that identified material and information flow for manufacturing and purchasing processes. Next, this team applied Lean principles to create a future state map that significantly reduced non-value adding activities, inventory, and order time. As a result, cycle and lead time were significantly reduced. After the Value Stream Mapping Event, the NWMOC project managers visited the plant periodically to encourage the team to continue its work and to assist them in applying the VSM findings.
- Increased sales by more than 40 percent.
- Reduced lead time by more than 50 percent.
- Reduced Inventory costs.
- Increased productivity.
- Reduced equipment costs.
- Increased flexibility.
- Used VSM to make additional improvements in the plant and to design a new facility layout in a neighboring city.
“Value Stream Mapping helped us prioritize and give our supervisors ownership in their value stream. We use a color coding system to alert them to order deadlines.”
Cody Wickersheim, Vice President/General Manager