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Equipment Parts Manufacturer Partners With IMEC to Implement Lean Principles

From excess inventory and nonvalue work to $2 million in cost savings

Published: Thursday, September 15, 2022 - 12:00

(IMEC: Dixon, IL) -- Bonnell Industries has been a family-owned, industry leader in the truck equipment industry in Northern Illinois for decades but struggled to embrace the concept of lean manufacturing. The team mostly operated under “we do it this way because it’s what we know.”

It wasn’t until William Hintzsche joined the team in November 2021 as the new COO that things began to change. Noticing excess inventory and multiple nonvalue steps in processes, he realized it was time to attack the waste. Hintzsche knew it was in the company’s best interest to reinforce lean principles and integrate them as part of the culture.

Hintzsche had worked with IMEC on many lean projects with former employers, and knowing the breadth of lean expertise at IMEC, the conversation began about Bonnell undergoing a lean transformation. Hintzsche wanted the Bonnell team to understand how lean principles can improve processes, drive efficiency, and eliminate waste, which will help them deliver quality products and services and save money.


The process began with a full day “learn and do” workshop that combined classroom-style instruction with a hands-on simulation of production facility. To prepare for the simulations, both Bonnell and IMEC collaborated to incorporate safety protocols to ensure the health and safety of those in attendance.

IMEC technical experts introduced the basic concepts of lean manufacturing to the team, demonstrating tools and techniques as well as how to effectively implement them in their operations and processes.

The simulation portion involved participants applying those principles to their individual workspace and across the product line at the mock manufacturing plant created for this training. This technique used three shifts, which illustrated the cause-and-effect relationships of the key lean principles discussed. It also offered opportunities to make real-world decisions when considering changes to the workforce and budgets.

As with most change, resistance was natural. The team at Bonnell initially pushed back on the idea of training to undergo a lean transformation. But as they learned the basic concepts and participated in the simulation, they were able to see the benefits of embracing lean and how they could transfer what they were learning to their roles at Bonnell, which would streamline their processes and improve productivity and efficiency.

• Anticipated new and retained sales: $3,000,000
• Anticipated cost savings: $2,200,000
• Anticipated new investment: $60,000
• Jobs created or retained: 8


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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.