With roots back to 1901, Franklin Industries is a rail rerolling mill- which means they reroll used rails from the railroad and heat them to roll a wide variety of products such as highway sign posts and posts for agriculture fencing. Rail steel is a high-quality steel due to the exacting chemical and physical specifications under which the original railroad rail was produced.
Franklin Industries had implemented lean principals within the organization in the past, but was challenged to maintain momentum for additional progress. They wanted to obtain increased benefits through lean activities to improve financial performance and transform their company culture to create greater employee participation.
The objective of Lean Together™ is to help companies create, develop, and sustain a culture of continuous improvement through a collaborative learning platform consisting of peer-to-peer assistance, professionally facilitated sessions, plant tours, and observation of onsite live team meetings- all focusing on concepts from the book 2 Second Lean by Paul Akers. Leadership at Franklin Industries, including their Operations Officer and CFO, participated in the Lean Together 9 month program from April 2017-December 2017 and used new insights to engage their employees. From the beginning of the program, they started making 2 second improvements creating many new efficiencies. The company also requested training, 2-Second Lean Overview and Changing the Culture of your Workplace, for employees not participating in the Lean Together working group sessions. Four sessions of training were provided to approximately 15-18 managers in each.
Management and employees at Franklin Industries embraced the 2 second lean mind-set from the beginning. One of the process changes involved educating vendors about their requirements for receiving raw materials. This reduced the time spent on materials handling, including receiving and organizing. The company estimates significant impact from their 2 second lean improvements, including $1.5M increased sales, $500K in retained sales, cost savings of $50K, and $50K in cost avoidance, as well as jobs created and retained. “We’ve made some major changes over the last year without large capital investments. We’ve invested in our people and in changing processes.,” said Don Smith, Operations Manager. Franklin’s CFO, Debbie Neal, added that “Lean Together has helped our employees realize that working together as a whole group, and gathering multiple ideas from each other, makes us a stronger and more productive team. As a result, multiple new production records have been set.”