Le Sueur Inc.
Le Sueur Inc. is a privately held supplier of plastic injection molded, aluminum die cast, permanent molded, sand cast and precision machined parts and prototypes based in Le Sueur, MN. The company was established in 1946 and now earns more than $70 million in annual sales.
Like many manufacturers, Le Sueur’s employees used their personal experiences and “gut feel” to find solutions on the plant floor, often without consulting with others in the process. Defects plagued Le Sueur in at least one of its high-volume parts, requiring employees to spend extra hours correcting them. But some defects weren’t detected until customers performed final machining, resulting in customer returns. Le Sueur wanted to find a better solution to its defect problem, and develop a more consistent and effective system for analyzing and solving problems.
Le Sueur participated in Enterprise Minnesota’s Practical Problem Solving (PPS) consulting service, which shows employees how to define and analyze problems, develop an implementation plan and implement corrective measures. The approach is a structured, team-focused way to find solutions which relies less on instinct and the tendency to “work around” the problem to accomplish the objective.
Employees applied Practical Problem Solving principles to discover the root causes of the defects in Le Sueur’s high-volume part. Within four weeks of testing and implementing changes to production of the part, the company reduced defect rates from 5.46 percent to 1 percent. The company also reduced its rework rate for benching and welding operations during the production of the part, and reduced time spent moving the part to and from welding. Identifying the root causes of the defect also allowed company employees to spot defective parts before they reached customers, resulting in fewer customer returns.
“Participating in Enterprise Minnesota’s Practical Problem Solving helped us see the value of developing our problem-solving expertise and we are becoming better at defining problems with increasing clarity. Using real problems we were experiencing during the consulting gave us the confidence that we are on the right track to higher customer satisfaction, higher margins and better teamwork.”
Le Sueur Inc.
Le Sueur, MN