Minneapolis-based Kurt Manufacturing Co.’s Die Cast plant reports that its Lean initiatives have resulted in significant operating cost savings — over $1.2 million thus far — which it says have been passed on to customers. “The Lean program includes newly automated processes, concurrent engineering with our customers, and adding new die casting equipment,” according to Kurt Die Casting division manager Bernard Soya. “We have improved quality and time-to-market while reducing product costs.”
Kurt Manufacturing is involved in a range of turnkey manufacturing and assembly services, including precision CNC and forging machining, for various customer groups like aerospace, automotive, defense, oil and gas, and semiconductor.
Kurt Die Casting manufactures aluminum diecastings weighing from a few ounces up to 28 lb. Along with its 20 cold-chamber machines, it operates 28 trim presses and several automated trim stations, and blasting services with various materials. Its finishing services include precision machining, as well as assembly operations.
The diecasting operation is ISO 9001: 2000 certified, and performs contract manufacturing of diecast parts and assemblies.
Using the Global Best Practices standards (www.globalbestpractices.com), Kurt Die Casting ensured that tool investment economies are achievable without sacrificing its strict quality requirements for die construction. Kurt employed in-house and offshore moldmaking, citing the fact that offshore sourcing produced up to 35% cost savings and up to 30% improvement in time-to-market for specific customers.
“Within our Lean initiatives, we utilized a Kanban (JIT) production system which provides a faster, easier, and more costeffective way to complete the production process,” according to Soya. “We implemented a workcell flow process for a leading agricultural manufacturer, resulting in a 30% cost reduction on that diecasting project.”
Soya also reports significant inventory reductions through Kurt’s Lean program. “We have been using internal Kanbans to control the work as it goes to the floor for secondary operations,” Soya reported. “The system is very visual, allowing all departments to manage inventory and to see what needs to be produced. This has resulted in a 50% reduction in set-up time on many jobs while increasing inventory turns up to 200%.”