The Challenge

IFD Corporation protects linesmen at utility providers across the world with their reliable low-cost sensor that detects internal faults in distribution transformers. Since 2001, IFD’s sensors have enabled utilities to replace failed transformers while improving worker safety and decreasing the length of customer outages. As IFD launches the next iteration of their sensor that will accelerate their strategic growth plan, they were looking to identify opportunities to deliver their detectors faster, safer and better.

IFD Corporation engaged Propel Solutions to design and install a lean manufacturing process over a condensed timeline that would be scalable to meet the company’s future production goals. Adding to the complexity was that manufacturing occurs at a 3rd party facility that employed batch production. IFD needed a solution that was feasible for the 3rd party to implement and sustain while supporting IFD’s customer commitment towards safety, operations, productivity, and service excellence.

The Objectives:

The project was conducted over a five-week period and included the following activities:

  • Design the Lean Manufacturing Process: Propel assessed the specific assembly process used in the development of the new sensor, including components and subassemblies, to determine the optimal manufacturing process. Through detailed process maps, analysis of output capacity and consideration for future growth needs, Propel configured a single-piece flow process that maximized output, embedded quality production and supported assembly staff ergonomics.
  • Workstation Design and Vendor Sourcing: Propel utilized its expertise of lean manufacturing along with the client’s unique requirements to determine new workstation designs that facilitated single-piece flow and optimized worker mobility, equipment placement and effective use of limited space. Propel also coordinated with our partner network to source a preferred vendor to deliver the custom workstation in cost-effective and timely manner.
  • Resource and Supply Chain Planning: Propel conducted a review of existing supply chain and material handling processes to identify opportunities to reduce waste in the re-handling processes and address logistic challenges within the manufacturing plant. This led to the introduction of a new storage and replenishment system as well as future opportunities to streamline the upstream supply chain.

The Results

Propel provided IFD with the ability to install lean manufacturing processes at their 3rd party and launch production of their new sensor with the confidence that the solution would support their future production needs. Transitioning from batch to lean production also increased production output per an operator while delivering improved worker ergonomics and quality control. With strong engagement between IFD and the 3rd party manufacturer, Propel was also able to identify over 40 additional opportunities for future improvement.