Aftermarket automobile windshield manufacturer Safelite Glass Corp. says it has retained sales of $2.6 million and saved $670,000 in costs since launching a Lean program. For this reason the company’s Enfield, N.C., USA, facility was recently recognized by the North Carolina government for contributing to the state’s economic benefit over the last five years.

To remain competitive with aftermarket parts competitors in China, Safelite brought in experts from North Carolina State University’s Industrial Extension Service (IES) to meet its goals of reducing costs at the Enfield plant through improved efficiency and productivity.

The Safelite facility produces approximately 700 different parts (20 simultaneously) and distributes them to 84 warehouses across the country. When any one of three furnaces shut down, bottlenecks occur, which can lead to a shutdown of the entire plant. The goal of reducing bottlenecks prompted IES to facilitate a value stream map of the furnace department. The map indicated a need to reduce “no-loads,” which is the company’s term for lost opportunities.

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