How metal processor Provan drastically reduced its lead times with QRM

By Pascal Pollet – Sirris

Laser cutting, bending and welding 130 different parts into one stove in just three days, without straining the work schedule and while making optimal use of warehouse space: Genk based metal processing company Provan pulls off this feat thanks to Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM).

The challenge : Increase in product variants

Provan was looking for an alternative production method that would enable it to manufacture and deliver its stoves as quickly as possible. A batch production of 60 sets used to take around four weeks. However, faced with an increase in the number of product variants, Provan feared that the lean method it was using would pose problems in terms of lead times and available warehouse space.

The solution : Quick Response Manufacturing

Provan learned all about Quick Response Manufacturing during a QRM informational session and masterclass given by Sirris. This production strategy aims to drastically reduce lead times and was designed specifically for small product series with a large number of variants – perfect for Provan’s needs! The manufacturer therefore decided to set up its own QRM cell.The company physically placed  all of the machinery required for making its various stove models together in the cell. Visual elements such as colored flags on the transport carts help the workers to keep an overview of what’s going on. The numbers on the flags indicate the order of the processing steps, so that different operations can follow one another in rapid succession.

The result : 85% faster with new workflow

The switch to a single production cell means that transport on the shop floor is reduced and products can now be made in batches of 15 sets. The lead time per set has decreased by a massive 85%, from between 3.5 and 4 weeks to just three days. The packing process is now twice as fast and delivery can take place within the desired three weeks. Moreover, the smooth workflow means that there is no need to keep large stocks of parts, thus freeing up 600 m2 of storage space. In addition, the new workflow is completely ‘self-managing’: the employees themselves determine the process, which means they automatically feel more involved. Detailed planning and extra management are unnecessary. Last but not least, the quality of the products has improved, and the company continues to adjust and streamline its QRM approach on an ongoing basis.