Absolute Quality is located nearly in Minneapolis in the shadow of Target Field, where its products help light up the scoreboard. Since 1997, Absolute Quality has manufactured custom wire harnesses, cable assemblies and panel builds for a multitude of customers across the nation. It sells to industries ranging from communications and electronic displays to agricultural, industrial, marine and utility.
The rise of international competition in its market led to Absolute Quality needing a better way of doing things. The company had developed strong relationships, but the economic circumstances were driving customers to look for lower costs in Mexico, India, and China. Absolute Quality wanted a way to eliminate waste in its processes, maintain quality, and drive new growth.
Enterprise Minnesota recommended Absolute Quality utilize its Lean Enterprise methodologies and pursue a companywide value stream mapping (VSM) project to identify bottlenecks within the company’s processes. The six-month process required every department from sales to shipping to quantify the time required for every step in its process, then work first within and then across departments to brainstorm ideas for improving workflow. Eventually, Absolute Quality began a Lean journey that showed remarkable results.
Absolute Quality’s Lean project helped reduce inventory in raw materials and finished goods by $1 million, save $100,000 annually in soft costs, and helped realize an 80 percent reduction in steps walked throughout the plant. Enterprise Minnesota helped the company establish Kanban systems with many customers, which have reduced client follow-up calls and have generated an annual savings of $75,000. Quoting time has been cut in half thanks to an electronic system for placing customer orders. In total, these changes have helped Absolute Quality foster a culture of continuous improvement across its business and have enabled the company to compete in the global marketplace.
“To be the best supplier that we can be, we don’t just pass on an increase. We have to look at other ways to counter that increase. If you incorporate lean into your facility, you can make money in other ways than by raising prices. A lot of waste is out there that people don’t see. If we can save there, that will help our bottom line.”