Milbank: Running Lean
Higher Efficiency. Higher Value.
Since 1927, exceptional customer service and innovation have been two of our core philosophies at Milbank. They underscore our focus on delivering the highest quality custom products, on time and at a competitive cost. It was eight years ago that our relentless commitment to these values yielded yet another philosophy that has sharpened our organization and improved virtually every aspect of the way Milbank operates—the lean enterprise philosophy.
Anticipating the effects of rising material and labor costs, the lean philosophy is now integral to our continued growth and success, as well as our customers'. Our 16,000+ SKUs — the result of custom electric metering and enclosure solutions for thousands of utilities across the globe — were just a few reasons to go lean. But the most important reason is to ensure that in the future Milbank continues to deliver our customers the highest quality of customized products at extremely competitive costs, while still proudly claiming “made in the USA.”
A fundamental principle of lean enterprise is continuous improvement. To hold departments accountable for their improvement efforts we've developed a unique R3 lean model (right product, right place, right time). This helps us continually apply the lean philosophy in every aspect of our organization—focusing as much on ordering, design, and delivery, as we do on manufacturing. This holistic approach ensures every area of our organization is as efficient as possible.
Each year we invest in more than 40 process improvement Kaizens ranging in topics from sales channels and engineering, to design systems and billing, to product handling and manufacturing. So far these programs have made an incredible impact:
- Reduced non-value added steps in our drop-ship program from 63 to 14, saving our customers time and processing costs while improving our responsiveness and on-time order fulfillment rate to more than 98%
- Simplified and reduced WIP inventory by more than 93% allowing us to better control costs while reallocating existing manufacturing space to our R&D and training centers — leading to quicker and more cost effective solutions for our customers
- Fewer non-value added steps in the manufacturing process has led to an improvement in both worker safety and overall reduction in product defects
Highly successful, but never satisfied, Milbank is now moving to the future of lean with our Lean 2.0, “Lean Forward,” initiative. This exciting program will extend our lean approach beyond our internal processes to our suppliers and partners.
The goal of the real-time, real-world Lean Forward program is to identify possible problems and preemptively developing solutions, internally and externally, as well as increasing our responsiveness to emerging customer needs. In a rapidly changing global environment with expanding Smart grid technology, point source power production and increasingly sophisticated enduser controls, Lean Forward isn't just a better way to operate, it's the only way to meet the individualized needs of our customers and our commitment to the stewardship of our land and resources.