Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - 162

Rowmark
www.rowmark.com / HQ: Findlay, Ohio / Employees: 165 / Eric Hausserman, VP of business
integration: "We're always looking for new products and new materials that help customers."

Northeast

to do one continuous improvement
event each month at one of its two
divisions, Rowmark and Premier Material Concepts (PMC). Each session
follows a similar process: The area is
shut down, the existing process is reviewed, ideas are developed and tested, and then the ones that work are
finalized and implemented.
Because of the disruption, Rowmark works those continuous improvement sessions into its production schedule. Most are timed to
coincide with slower periods of work.
Still, even a temporary interruption
can be a turnoff for some businesses,
but Rowmark recognized it as a necessity in order to reach its lean goals.

Innovation Advantage
rowmark works closely with
suppliers to ensure it can
innovate with new products.

Good Wins

rowmark's use of continuous improvement
leads to leaner production. by tim o'connor
When the first shift of the week
came in on Sunday night at engravable
plastic sheet manufacturer Rowmark,
it could take nearly an hour to get machines up and running. That was lost
time and lost productivity. The Findlay, Ohio, company decided it had to
cut that time by 25 percent.
Many manufactures would balk at
shutting down a portion of a production line, even for a limited time. But
Rowmark knew if it was going to improve its start-up process it had to engage its employees in training.
The company stopped production
for two days and brought in all three
of its shifts. Employees and management brainstormed a list of ideas on
162

manufacturing-today.com NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

how to speed up the cold start time,
then conducted trials to see what
worked. From there, Rowmark finalized the most promising procedural
changes and implemented the process
across all three shifts.
Rowmark ended up exceeding its
goal by shaving 32 percent off the time
it takes from turning on the extruder to when the first sheet has been
checked for quality. "It was a good
win for the team and helped improve
morale," says Eric Hausserman, vice
president of business integration.
The improvement was a testament
to the kaizen and lean manufacturing
philosophies Rowmark adopted at the
beginning of 2015. The company tries

Rowmark started as an independent
company in 1997, but its roots date
back a decade earlier. Fred Kremer,
CEO of a drainage pipe manufacturer in Findlay, had recognized a
need for engravable extruded sheet
materials. He established a plastic
sheet extrusion line within his company and watched as it grew into the
international market in only a few
years. Kremer resigned as CEO to
purchase the Rowmark division in
1997 and initiated the move into a
nearby industrial park.
Since Hausserman started with
the company in 2000, the original
facility has gone through three major expansions and opened a second
manufacturing plant. While Rowmark
produces engravable sheet for awards,
small-format signage and other applications, PMC specializes in customized plastic sheet and roll stock for
the industrial thermoforming market.
PMC customers convert the plastic
sheet into parts such as panels for recreational vehicles or tractor roofs.
Rowmark's base manufacturing


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016

Table Of Contents
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - 1
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Table Of Contents
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Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Cover3
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