Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016 - 107

McFarlane Manufacturing Co.

"i'm most proud of the teamwork.
there is virtually nothing that
happens in the company - such as
a safety issue or a corrective action - that doesn't get communicated to everybody within the organization within 24 hours."
- Todd Lassanske
	 All	 of	 McFarlane's	 products	 are	 custom	 manufactured.	 Approximately	 three	 years	 ago,	 the	 company	
brought	 in	 a	 Quick	 Response	 Manufacturing	 (QRM)	
team	from	the	University	of	Wisconsin-Madison	with	
whose	 help	 McFarlane	 changed	 its	 workflow	 and	 reduced	its	inventories	and	batch	size.	
	 "We	work	with	suppliers	to	reduce	their	lead	times	
and	 batch	 sizes	 so	 we	 can	 have	 a	 minimal	 amount	 of	
inventory	 on	 hand	 to	 meet	 our	 customers'	 needs,"	
Lassanske	says.	"Generally,	we	can	produce	a	product	
within	a	week	to	10	days	to	order,	if	not	sooner."
	 Among	 the	 different	 manufacturing	 processes	 employed	 by	 McFarlane	 are	 plasma	 tables	 to	 cut	 out	 flat	
metal	 stock,	 press	 brakes	 to	 form	 it,	 full-size	 presses,	
wire	formers,	CNC	machining	centers	and	saws	that	cut	
tubing	and	steel.	It	also	has	welding,	painting	and	assembling	equipment.
	 One	 of	 the	 advantages	 of	 McFarlane's	 vertical	 integration	is	that	the	company	is	not	dependent	on	suppliers'	 production	 schedules.	 This	 means	 McFarlane	 can	
reduce	the	number	of	components	from	other	suppliers	
that	it	would	have	to	keep	in	stock,	because	it	does	not	
have	to	meet	suppliers'	minimum	order	requirements.	
The	 company	 can	 also	 produce	 lower	 quantities	 of	 its	
products,	 and	 in	 many	 cases,	 it	 can	 produce	 parts	 at	
lower	cost	than	suppliers	would.
	 McFarlane	uses	reliable	suppliers	for	specialized	products	it	does	not	want	to	produce	itself,	such	as	hydraulic	
cylinders,	 wheel	 bearings	 or	 tires.	 It	 maintains	 longstanding	relationships	with	most	of	its	good	suppliers,	in	
some	cases	for	decades.
	 The	 company	 has	always	emphasized	 the	importance	
of	safety	and	has	an	accident	rate	below	the	national	average.	Lassanske	attributes	this	to	the	company's	strong	
base	of	employees.	
	 "They	are	the	ones	who	are	designing,	creating,	building	and	selling	our	products,"	he	notes.	"They	are	just	a	

Midwest

fabulous	team	of	people.	They	are	the	ones	that	are	making	it	happen.	
	 "I'm	most	proud	of	the	teamwork	essentially	related	
to	 communication,"	 he	 continues.	 "We've	 had	 a	 cultural	 shift	 here	 the	 last	 couple	 of	 years,	 and	 we	 now	
have	morning	standup	meetings	in	every	area.	There	is	
virtually	nothing	that	happens	in	the	company	-	such	
as	 a	 safety	 issue	 or	 a	 corrective	 action	 -	 that	 doesn't	
get	communicated	to	everybody	within	the	organization	within	24	hours.	So	we	have	a	very	high	awareness	
and	focus	on	safety	and	quality."
	 For	 the	 future,	 Lassanske	 plans	 to	 introduce	 more	
automation	 to	 the	 manufacturing	 process	 such	 as	 robotic	 welders	 to	 improve	 the	 company's	 throughput.	
He	 attributes	 the	 company's	 success	 to	 its	 employees	
and	 having	 an	 innovative	 product.	 "We're	 what	 many	
folks	 refer	 to	 as	 a	 short-line	 manufacturer	 as	 opposed	
to	a	full-line	manufacturer	like	John	Deere	or	Case.	We	
supply	a	very	specific	product	that	is	known	to	be	innovative	and	offers	a	unique	value	to	our	customers."	mt

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016		 manufacturing-today.com			107


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016

Contents
Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016 - 1
Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016 - 2
Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016 - Contents
Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016 - 4
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Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016 - Cover3
Manufacturing Today - September/October 2016 - Cover4
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