Success Story - Trenco

Trenco’s new VP of Operations used MAGNET’s Lean 101 Training workshop to kickstart the company’s transition to a lean-focused culture.

Jeff Boyd joined Transformer Engineering, LLC (widely known in the industry as “Trenco”) as vice president of operations in February 2009, bringing to the company his extensive experience and training in lean for manufacturing.

“Realizing that virtually no one else in the company had any background in lean manufacturing, I began looking for a training program that would give a brief conceptual introduction,” says Boyd. “But I especially wanted it to include a hands-on component for our employees.”

Trenco picked MAGNET’s Lean 101 Training Workshop for its first company-wide lean experience.

All together, 21 employees—ranging from management and engineering to the factory floor—participated in the half-day workshop, presented by MAGNET workforce consultants Mary Ann Pacelli and Rebecca Kemp.

“This group was bound for success,” says Pacelli. “It was evident from our first meeting that the company culture was open for change. The management team ‘walks the talk’ and leads by example. Management’s participation in this workshop and the immediate application activities back at the shop were key drivers in creating long-term positive impacts.”

Evolution

The half-day workshop began with a short lecture about lean principles, and then involved all the participants in a live simulation. The task: to manufacture an electronic board in a chaotic, traditional manufacturing firm. After the first simulation, the workshop participants were allowed to apply lean principles to the simulation to see how they could reduce manufacturing cycle time, improve on-time shipments, reduce work in process and improve quality.

In the afternoon, workshop participants returned to Trenco’s factory floor to consider how to use the lean techniques to which they’d been introduced. Following up on this one-day event, Boyd created several ongoing kaizen teams to make continuous improvement a fixture in the company’s corporate culture.

Economic Impact

Less than six months after the workshop, Trenco could point to solid results:

-Despite a depressed sales volume due to the severe economic recession of 2009, working capital nearly requirements were reduced by 50%.

-Inventory turns went from 5 to 8.

-Work in process dropped nearly in half, from around $400,000 in early 2009 to between $200,000 and $250,000 in November 2009.

“The folks on the kaizen teams try to improve processes each and every workday,” says Boyd proudly. “There are lots of good ideas, and some of them cost nothing at all!”

Next up, says Boyd, a kaizen team will take on upgrading, reorganizing and relocating the shop floor cranes. The company is also looking to increase capacity at its vacuum pressure impregnation vessel, and to add a second test laboratory to eliminate a production bottleneck.

Company Background

Trenco was founded in Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing heyday back in 1937, and operated as a family concern until it was bought by a private holding company in 2008. The holding company hired Robert LaGanke as president, and LaGanke hired Boyd soon after.

“I’d worked with Jeff at another large manufacturing firm in this region,” recalls LaGanke. “I knew he had completed an extensive course of lean training there that included visits to the company’s European and Asian facilities. That was the specific reason I campaigned for him to join our firm.

“When our investors bought the company in 2008, we were fully aware that there had never been any systematic effort to apply lean principles at this company,” LaGanke adds. “What was so attractive about the deal was that the business was making money when we bought it. So we could see that, once we implemented lean in a big way, we could be even more profitable.”

Company Profile

Trenco manufactures custom-designed electromagnetic components for global customers in a wide variety of industries, including:

-solar power

-wind energy

-transportation

-off-highway vehicles

-mining

-OEM equipment

-motor controls

Transformer Engineering offers a full range of magnetic products for commercial, industrial and energy markets. It specializes in custom designs, sophisticated manufacturing and after-sales support. Product classifications include:

-clean power products

-control transformers

-power transformers (dry-type)

-inductors

-standard 3-phase line reactors

-machine-tool transformers

-ferroresonant transformers

-saturable inductors

-air core inductors

The company’s product lines include control and power dry type transformers ranging from 1 KVA to 2, 000 KVA, ferroresonant transformers, reactors, AC and DC inductors and harmonic compensated transformers.

The company is headquartered in Cleveland. In 2006, Trenco created a wholly-owned production facility in Suzhou, China, to manufacture industrial electromagnetic components for U.S. companies with Chinese manufacturing facilities.