The U.S. temperature measurement market is highly competitive. More than 200 companies design and manufacture temperature sensors, and annual sales of the overall temperature measurement market are over $1 billion annually. Commodity production of sensors has moved overseas, with U.S. producers like Probes Unlimited supplying the demand for specialty products, smaller runs and faster delivery times. According to Probes Unlimited Owner Ernie DeLany, “Our customers want the price to go down every year, even if our raw material prices go up. We had lost a few jobs because we could not meet price or delivery requirements. We didn’t want to get squeezed out of the market.” After speaking with a customer who had achieved dramatic improvements through Lean manufacturing methods, Ernie contacted DVIRC.
DVIRC introduced Probes Unlimited employees to Lean through Lean 101 training at the company workplace, beginning a five-year journey that continues today.
Over five years, the company has increased output by 90% without adding staff or expanding space.
The company’s products are produced using more than 1100 parent parts. By consolidating part numbers, stock inventories, costs and space utilization were significantly reduced. By standardizing production methods, several hundred different set up operations were reduced to five or six.
Five years ago, Probes Unlimited was considering renting additional space for production operations. Through Lean, the company has dramatically reduced wasted space in their existing facility. The company now has enough room to accommodate operations and growth for the next 4-5 years.
Despite the recession, Probes Unlimited has maintained stability, with zero layoffs. By reducing the labor content per part, reducing waste and streamlining production, the company has been successful in lowering pricing. In addition to growing in the domestic market, Probes Unlimited is moving closer to being competitive with overseas producers, while offering the added advantage of fast delivery of small orders.