Enterprise Minnesota Helps Absolute Quality Compete Globally with Lean
Absolute Quality, founded in 1997, manufactures custom wire harnesses, cable assemblies and panel builds for multiple industries ranging from communications and electronic displays to agricultural, industrial, marine, and utility. The company is an outgrowth of Stark Electronics, which began in 1938 as a radio parts distribution business before making a series of transitions from radios to television sets, to battery packs and harnesses. Today, the two companies share a building in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Stark Electronics operating as the electronics distribution side of the business, and Absolute Quality operating as the manufacturing side. Absolute Quality employs 60 people.
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 overseas. Absolute Quality wanted a way to eliminate wasted costs in its processes, maintain quality, and rive new growth. Company leadership began researching a solution and came across Enterprise Minnesota, a NIST MEP network affiliate, as an organization with expertise in Lean process improvement.
Enterprise Minnesota facilitated a company-wide Value Stream Mapping (VSM) project to identify bottlenecks with Absolute Quality’s processes. A VSM looks at how the flow of work impacts the total costs, and helps develop methods to improve processes. The project required every department from sales to shipping to quantify the time required for every step in its process, then brainstorm ideas for improving workflow. Through its VSM, Absolute Quality targeted projects for implementing Lean into the company’s facility, identified wastes in its processes, and eliminated non-value added processes, materials, and activities. Absolute Quality’s implementation of Lean has helped the company reduce inventory and generate savings. These improvements are helping Absolute Quality compete in a global market.
- Realized $75,000 in cost savings.
- Reduced inventory by $1 million.
- Reduced travel time by 80 percent.
- Reduced quoting time by 50 percent.
“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.”
Jeff Zoubek, Executive Vice President and Production Manager