Hydro Carbide Retains Sales in a Tough Market
Hydro Carbide manufactures tungsten carbide rod, die parts, rolls and other products for the metalworking market. The Gulfport, Mississippi, facility produces carbine rods for the aerospace and automotive industries and employs 100 people.
Hydro Carbide's Gulfport plant faced increasing pressure from the changing automotive and aerospace industries. The company was struggling to hold onto its market share and needed ways to cut costs and maintain their customer base. The Mississippi Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP.ms), a NIST MEP network affiliate, contacted Hydro Carbide to perform an assessment during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to determine their specific manufacturing needs. The assessment revealed their need for implementation of Lean manufacturing techniques.
The company's Lean journey began with the MEP.ms Center at The University Of Southern Mississippi's Lean Enterprise Center (USM LEC) facilitating Principles of Lean Manufacturing workshops for the supervisors and shop floor employees. After the initial training, the MEP.ms Center at USM LEC along with the Hydro Carbide management began looking at specific issues on the factory floor and determined that excessive machine changeover times were a major constraint impacting lead times, customer deliveries and inventory levels. Focusing on these issues, the MEP.ms Center at USM LEC facilitated Set-up Reduction training and performed associated Kaizen events on specific machines throughout the plant. The training and implementation of set-up reduction techniques allowed employees to eliminate wasteful steps and focus on value-added activities. Results included lead-time reductions and increased on-time deliveries to customers.
• Retained sales of $5 million.
• Realized $322,000 in cost savings.
• Invested $150,000 in plant equipment.
“Implementing the Lean initiatives allowed us to keep our current level of business without having any cutbacks.”
— Gary Dale, Plant Manager