Success with the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP)
The following is an article written by the team at the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP) highlighting our recent work together tackling some of Meta Fab’s most pressing issues. We’d like to share this to highlight our commitment to continuous improvement and to normalize sharing the struggles of small businesses openly.
Specializing in Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication and CNC Machining, Meta Fab, Inc. is a fully integrated, world-class, turn-key, concept to completion, metal fabrication company. Located in the greater Portland Metro area Meta Fab, Inc. has served the manufacturing community of the Pacific Northwest for over 35 years. Meta Fab, Inc. provides precision metal fabrication services to a diverse and global customer base. For their customers Meta Fab, Inc. is a one-source metal manufacturing vendor, bringing the following services under one roof: Concept to Completion, Value Engineering, Metal Fabrication, Finishing, Value Added Assembly.
As the company has grown, Meta Fab’s leadership team has changed and evolved. The team desired to improve communication across their organization and among themselves. Due to Meta Fab Inc.’s continued growth, many people in the organization stepped up to perform multiple roles. Although it was beneficial to the organization to quickly problem-solve, employees did not have a clear understanding of responsibilities as they rapidly sought to solve growth challenges. Capacity and scheduling were not aligned for their laser cutting department. The team understood that successful communication and dedication to organization-wide transparency are key tenants of a continuous improvement culture. As part of this growth, the leadership team sought a better understanding of how to implement site-wide Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to assure alignment across the organization.
OMEP partnered with the team to review KPIs for the organization and determined how they trickled through to all levels of employees. The team shifted their language at weekly all-hands meetings to discuss output and time, rather than budget. To reinforce their progress, OMEP helped the team to create visual communication tools for tracking output for all shopfloor processes. In addition to focusing on KPIs and visual management, OMEP conducted in-depth leadership training for all team leads. In addition to leadership training, OMEP conducted a value stream mapping process from order entry to shipping. This allowed the team to understand the current state, and create a desired future state for this area of business. As a result of the constraints identified in the current state, the team created an inventory Kanban replenishment system for sheet stock and hardware.
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Thanks to the leadership training and renewed focus on continuous improvement, the team is now communicating at a regular cadence, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for all departments and team members. Scheduling is aligned and capacity is clear across all key departments. The flow of work orders from the account manager to the shop floor has significantly improved. Because the team now has a clear understanding of the actual capacity and labor needed for all departments, scheduling has improved, resulting in more than 26 percent improvements with on-time delivery.
As a result of their efforts, the month-to-month backlog has been reduced by 90%. Team morale across the floor has improved, and everyone is engaged in improvement efforts.
“Working with OMEP has been a great success for Meta Fab. This project both affirmed our internal values and added accountability that allowed us to align on prioritizing and achieving goals based on those values. Furthermore, the alignment among our leadership team sets us up for continuous improvement and success.”