Founded in 1981, Kenway Engineering, Inc. is a custom designer and manufacturer of mobile air conditioning and heating components and systems for agricultural equipment, heavy off-road trucks, construction equipment and other off-road equipment. Kenway is dedicated to focusing on custom product solutions that provide a high quality integrated fit with their manufactured equipment. The company employs 17 people at its plant in Fairmont, MN.
Kenway was looking to diversify its product offerings while maintaining quality and maximizing margins to help the company achieve its top-line and bottom-line growth objectives in order to grow by 100% over the next five years. To accomplish this, Kenway sought to implement a culture of continuous improvement.
Greg Langfield, an Enterprise Minnesota lean and continuous improvement expert, presented Kenway with a two-part solution that would help increase its production capacity, maintain its quality standards, and drive employee engagement. The first part of the solution entailed assembling a cross-functional team to take part in a value stream mapping (VSM) project, which assesses the company’s current manufacturing process and identifies areas with the greatest potential for improvement. As a part of this project, members of the Kenway team underwent training on lean manufacturing techniques in order to learn how to recognize waste in their processes and how to implement improvements. At the end of the VSM, Langfield and the Kenway team developed an ideal future state process and created an action plan to bring the company in line with this objective.
To reach its ideal future state, Kenway went through a series of rapid improvement kaizen events led by Langfield. These kaizen events applied lean thinking and tactics to specific areas of focus in the manufacturing process. In addition, these kaizen events were designed to help the Kenway team gain the knowledge and experience necessary to apply these lean skills in other areas of company after the events had been completed.
As a result of its work with Enterprise Minnesota, Kenway realized reduced material and inventory costs and has its decreased cycle time by 20% which has helped the company increase its overall production capacity. Over the next three years, Kenway projects to:
- Increase or retain $6.5 million in sales
- Yield a cost savings of $300,000
- Invest $200,000 in plant or equipment and workforce skill development
- Create three new jobs
“We have reduced our costs and lowered our cycle times which has led to increased capacity. We couldn’t have done with this without Enterprise Minnesota.”