CROWN Equipment has enhanced its position as the competitive leader in the Australian lift truck market by becoming one of the first in its industry to adopt 'lean manufacturing' in Australia.
This complete revamp at its Sydney manufacturing plant is an upgrade that streamlines the company's processes across all divisions to deliver a higher quality product with faster turnaround.
Lean manufacturing involves waste identification and neutralization, which can include both materials and time.
Through a methodical procedure proven in leading manufacturing companies across the world, Crown was able to re-design how the process and stock holding required in the manufacture of lift trucks works together to eliminate waste.
Manufacturing manager for Crown, Ned Walsh, said lean manufacturing is more than merely reducing wastage of inventory, effort and time - it is a manufacturing principle by which the company will maintain its high standards yet with less time, less complication and with a better visibility and ease of supervision.
"Lean manufacturing is about tidy, efficient, clean operations - so it focuses us to foresee potential bottlenecks and solve them in a tidy manner well before they become a problem, therefore manufacturing is uninterrupted," said Mr Walsh.
"Production line emergencies become a thing of the past and during busy times any demanding issue is easy to deal with and nobody suffers in silence.
According to Ned Walsh, 'lean' refers not just to the factory; it impacts positively on the entire lift truck manufacture process - from order to delivery.
"From the point when an order comes through our door right through to when it is delivered to the customer, we know how many hands will touch it; meanwhile we reduce the steps it takes to do so while adding value at each of these steps," he said.
During the transition into lean manufacturing, Crown has changed many of its manufacturing facilities and policies including:
* Introducing multi-skilling of all manufacturing personnel
* Reduction of transport around the plant
* U-shaped assembly line
* Reduction of unnecessary inventory
* Removal of bottlenecks.
Marketing Manager for Crown, Craig Kenchington, said the changes have resulted in significant reduction in manufacturing costs.
"This has allowed Crown to reposition many of its products in the Australian market, thus ensuring the future of the 300 workers in the Smithfield plant and the certainty of supply for our many customers," said Mr Kenchington.
"We are proud of our 30 years manufacturing in Australia and realised that to commit to another 30 years we needed to modernise our practices and provide our customer base with the best possible solutions."