Don’t be a Monkey

There is an old story about company policy that goes as such:

Subject: Company Policy

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it.  Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

 

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

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New Year, New Goals and Objectives

The beginning of a new year ushers in the opportunity to plan for the future and set new goals and objectives which everyone will work towards achieving over the next twelve months.  Our team at Birk is well known for having high aspirations and expectations and we’re constantly seeking a new challenge to conquer. That being said, this is always an exciting time of year at Birk Manufacturing and one that is full of much anticipation and enthusiasm.

This year Birk has selected to target our company wide quality objectives as the main event for our twelve month heavy weight battle. We have increased our weekly on time fill rate (OTFR) goal from above 90% to above 95%. For this objective we track how well we respond to our customer demand, not how well we perform against what we determined as our target ship date based on current workload and inventory supplies. If a customer calls Birk and requests to have their order in three days when our current lead time is two to three weeks, we use the three day request when calculating our metric. We feel this calculation better portrays how well we serve our valued customers.

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The Pursuit of Perfection through Continuous Improvement

Birk Manufacturing’s vision is quite clear; to become the world leader in flexible thermal solutions by supplying our customers with the highest quality design support, manufacturing capability and customer service while continuing to improve operations to lower prices and sustain competitive advantage. One of the key objectives to fulfill this lofty goal is the company-wide implementation of “lean” improvement methodologies. Lean is a set of “tools” that assist in the identification and steady elimination of waste within a process. As waste is identified and eliminated, production time and costs are reduced.  Lower costs, shorter lead times, unsurpassed quality, and exceeding customer expectations are Birk Manufacturing’s keys to remaining competitive and  increasing our presence within the marketplace.

Since the beginning of 2010, Birk Manufacturing has made huge strides in the application of lean tools and techniques such as 6S, standardization, visual management, improved process flow, batching, poka-yoke, supermarkets, Kanban and more. However, the “lean journey” is a pursuit of perfection, and because perfection does not exist, the pursuit is never ending. There are endless opportunities for continuous improvement and in order to apply lean methodology consistently and remain committed to operation excellence Birk Manufacturing has dedicated a department solely responsible for this task.

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Benefits of Lean

We at Birk have invested heavily in Lean training and implementation over the course of the past year and the benefits can be seen throughout the entire company, from the office to the shipping bay.  These changes have helped us better serve our customers, which is our singular goal here at Birk.  These changes have also greatly improved our internal and external communications which have helped make us a much more efficient company.