In August 2007, IEA significantly increased its ability to meet customer delivery needs by occupying a 175,000 square foot facility in Kenosha, WI; capacity in addition to the 45,000 square feet operated by Arcron, IEA’s fabrication division, located 50 miles north in Menomonee Falls, WI.
145,000 square feet of the Kenosha complex is devoted to the manufacture and assembly of all elements of a finished radiator: cores (copper and aluminum), tanks, frames, fan assembles, piping and protective shipment covering. Powder coating is done on-site. An 8,000 square-foot parts crib supplies both the manufacturing floor and customer service needs.
A Focus on Lean Manufacturing
The size of the facility has allowed IEA to design a highly efficient cell-based lean product flow, minimizing redundant labor costs and accelerating production times.
Operations within every department were designed and laid out by specially selected Kaizen teams comprised of IEA shop and office employees plus professional consultants and, in some cases, material vendors.
Responsibility for enhancing performance levels is distributed equally among all levels of management through a unique IEA reporting device known as the Tower of Power. Located within each production area, these cylindrical posts contain a variety of production reports, each updated daily. Anyone passing by is encouraged to review the information, and if they identify what they feel is a problem, to bring it to the attention of management. The Towers actively empower all employees to participate in raising IEA production standards.
On a weekly basis, the Lead person in each department conducts a Tower Review, discussing the department’s results with upper management, as the group stands around the Tower. The Lead can be asked any question at any time, so it’s wise to achieve a rigorous, in-depth knowledge of department operation and to avoid of any failure to meet weekly goals and objectives.
A Cell-to-Cell Production Flow
Production starts with the cores, both copper and aluminum, which are manufactured at the far west end of the plant. Multiple leak tests are an integral function within the flow, which ensures that only watertight cores move from station to station, and that they do so as rapidly as possible.
Completed, approved cores are then moved directly to the center area of the plant, where additional cells add tanks and frames. Units then move further east to be joined with fan assemblies.
This plant design and management methodology allows IEA to enjoy the benefits of “production line manufacturing” while maintaining the vital ability to create the wide variety of individualized products that distinguishes the company from competitors.
Depending on the mix of product, Kenosha can produce up to 18 units per day, and ship them directly to customers.
The non-manufacturing areas are devoted to work space for engineering, customer service, purchasing, quality control, the calorimeter lab, management offices and an employee cafeteria.