Wilson Tool International, an independent tooling manufacturer for sheet metal fabrication, has been named Manufacturer of the Year by the Manufacturers Alliance. The award is given annually to companies that exemplify lean manufacturing practices while also sharing their knowledge with fellow manufacturers.
“We’re honoured to be recognised for doing what’s best for our company, our customers and our industry,” said Brian Robinson, co-president of Wilson Tool. “This award is a testament to the outstanding efforts of our workforce. We’re also grateful to the Alliance for helping manufacturers like us stay competitive in the international market.”
Implementing a successful lean strategy
Just three years into its lean manufacturing initiative, Wilson Tool has threaded its take on lean throughout the company. To be successful, Wilson Tool believes that everyone must have a stake in lean efforts, from the factory floor to the executive offices. Wilson Tool considers it as a gradual process in which many smaller efforts add up to make a big difference.
According to Chris Lawless, vice president of operations at Wilson Tool, this philosophy is working. “Our approach to any lean project is that it won't be undertaken unless there is complete participation at the front end. It isn’t some slash-and-burn procedure that just targets waste reduction – it's a frame of mind. That’s why we prefer the term 'continuous improvement' to lean. We have focused on lots of small improvements. We take it bit by bit. And it has worked in a big way,” Lawless commented.
The benefits of knowledge sharing
Wilson Tool has taken advantage of the mutually beneficial programs provided by the Manufacturers Alliance, including workshops, monthly meetings and benchmarking programs. Wilson Tool also hosted fifty manufacturers for a tour of its shop floor, followed by a Q&A session to shed light on its lean practices. This type of knowledge-sharing event has been of great benefit to Alliance members.
“The willingness to share experiences and strengthen fellow manufacturers was a major factor in selecting Wilson Tool for this award,” noted Art Sneen, President of the Manufacturers Alliance. “They represent what the Manufacturers Alliance is all about.”