Point-Of-Use Dispensing System Helps Shop Manage Supplies

After trying numerous solutions, including the kanban system and work teams on which one employee was responsible for supplies, this manufacturer installed this point-of-use dispensing system, with great success.

Garrett Engine Boosting Systems (Torrance, California), a division of Honeywell, Inc., is a manufacturer of turbochargers for engines found in cars such as Audi, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford and many more, as well as diesel trucks manufactured by International Truck Co., Freightliner and Caterpillar. Harry Warlich, "product master," is responsible for an entire manufacturing operation—with an emphasis on correcting all bottlenecks, including those found in the tool crib.

It doesn't sound that glamorous, but by 1996, managing the maintenance and repair operations (MRO) for the 271,000-square foot facility had evolved into a very big deal. Expenses related to tooling replacement costs and downtime on cutting machines were mounting, and a variety of remedies had failed to turn the tide.

After trying numerous solutions, including the kanban system and work teams on which one employee was responsible for supplies, Garrett installed a SupplyBay point-of-use dispensing system (also known as an ATD) from SupplyPro Inc..

The SupplyBay system feeds all of its information into Garrett's mainframe computer. Any supervisor who has the SupplyPro software can access the system information any time. Records can be accessed by machine, by employee or by shift. They can even track usage of items, particularly the high-priced ones. Not only is the information easier to access, the information is much more accurate, according to the company. Reliable information is the fuel that fires Garrett's push for continual improvement. It's a necessity for making the company's Six Sigma program work. "With these dispensing systems, information is readily available, whenever you want it, as far back as you want it and as detailed as you want it," Mr. Warlich says.

Any skepticism as to whether the SupplyBay could make a real difference faded after 3 months of use. Studies compiled during those months indicated tremendous cost savings. "We were spending in the neighborhood of $30,000 a month in MRO supplies," Mr. Warlich says. "So we probably started saving about $10,000 in only a month's time." That added up to $120,000 in savings the first year, and ultimately $500,000 annually when the system was fully deployed.

Mr. Warlich now has 13 units on the floor, all lined up along specific customer products. He estimates that more than 600 users conduct about 1,000 transactions a day on the SupplyBay.