Solar Atmospheres, a Hermitage PA manufacturer specializing in vacuum heat treating, is a member of NWIRC’s Lean Together™ working group in Mercer County. Company President, Bob Hill, embraced the 2 Second Lean methodology immediately at the group’s first meeting in April. After that initial session, Hill purchased the book, 2 Second Lean by Paul Akers, for all of his employees and began to implement.

“2 Second Lean has taken the critical identification of waste out of management’s hands and put it into everyone’s hands,” Hill said. “The front-line staff now identify problems and waste; they own it and they fix it. The buy-in starts at the top. When employees present a 2 Second Lean initiative that requires capital, we support the improvement by purchasing what is necessary – and we do it quickly! By seeing these prompt actions, the employees now understand how important this is to our business. They see that management is serious and totally committed to improving and eliminating waste.”

Solar Atmosphere’s staff members have found approximately 200 improvements and fixes since starting this journey, and each of them have seen action. A great example of one of their simple fixes involved heavy metal baskets that were stacked on pallets on the floor. Workers would lift these stacks and place them onto a cart to move around the shop floor. The bending and repetitive motion, while lifting heavy objects, was a risk for future injury. Their improvement was to keep the pallets on wheeled carts with a spring-loaded shelf. This simple change eliminated the need for heavy lifting. They took it one step further and added their own modification to the carts to allow for fork lift transportation.

Before:

After:

Solar Atmospheres, as well as many other companies participating in the Lean Together™ working groups, are enthusiastic about the results they are seeing by fixing ‘what bugs them’. A new Lean Together™ working group is forming in Elk and Clearfield counties to begin in October. For information and to join, call (814) 898-6888.