Manufacturer’s “Rack Stars” shave cycle and wait times

Manufacturer’s “Rack Stars” shave cycle and wait times

Daniel Penn Success Stories

When the competition began eroding their market position, it was time for a manufacturer of industrial pallet, cantilever, and flow rack systems to call DPA to help them dig into the whys. DPA recently guided their employee team, self-nicknamed the “Rack Stars,” to map their value stream, pinpoint flow and process issues, chart a path to the future state and start work to shave cycle and wait times. Here’s how.

First Steps

After a two-day Lean overview session with senior management, the company began its lean improvement journey with a four-day kaizen event facilitated by DPA senior consultant Mike Beauregard. With support from DPA, the company created a project charter to define challenges and focus improvement efforts. The project objective was to improve actual productivity, which had slumped to just 40% of plan, and reduce cycle time to improve their competitive position.

Defining the Current State Value Stream

The kaizen event kicked off with the eight-member Rack Star team participating in a Lean Overview and the Value Stream Mapping (VSM) training. Then the team observed the value stream from receiving through the entire manufacturing process to completion of finished goods.

With these observations, they created a “current state” value-stream map that documented a process with a total cycle time of 42.8 minutes and wait times adding up to 17.8 days. In doing so, they identified bottlenecks and other wastes in the current process.


Current state map

With Beauregard’s coaching, the Rack Stars” collectively brainstormed 88 improvement action items to reduce cycle time and wastes. They divided their recommendations into 10 areas for improvement:

  • Quality: Material tolerances from suppliers, inspection protocols, labeling and color-coding
  • Receiving area modifications for safe lifting and carrying
  • Welding area advancer: set-up, tools, conveyors, queueing, feeding, and inspection.
  • Frame welding equipment, positioning, processes, and training for safety, efficiency, and mistake-proofing
  • Boxing station equipment additions; modify boxing procedure
  • Banding and material handling: Consolidate movement of materials and people, change band-cutting process and material
  • Make inspection tools easily accessible
  • Standardize painting equipment and process
  • Facility modifications to speed finished product move-outs
  • Equipment placement: saws, dryers, shears, rollers, welding

Prioritizing Improvements


The team designed an improved layout and created an implementation plan. The members then went to redo the workflow and process for welding.

Team trials of the improved workflow and process resulted in an increase in productivity with less work effort. After further refinement, a second trial increased productivity to 2.3 times the original performance.

By identifying opportunities to streamline delivery and movement of subcomponents, changing equipment setups and tooling, and improving standard work, the team built a future state map that forecasts a 13.2 minute total cycle time (a 69% improvement) and a 9.2 day wait time (a 48% improvement).

Future State Map

After the Kaizen event ended and the Rack Stars reported their efforts, each member was assigned follow-up tasks to address immediately actionable problems.

The Kaizen event helped the “Rack Stars” team gather multiple ideas and inputs from the people doing the work. They learned the importance of scaling improvement projects back so that problems could be addressed quickly. By working across departments, they gained different perspectives on how processes could be improved.

Need to streamline your process, boost productivity, and stay ahead of the competition? DPA’s experts can help your teams solve problems and continually improve your operation. Contact us at (860) 232-8577 or visit

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