Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - 66

Polaris Industries Inc.
www.polaris.com / HQ: Medina, Minn. / Specialty: Utility and recreational vehicles / Ken Pucel,
EVP of global operations, engineering and lean: "Polaris people ride for the brand."

polaris' lean manufacturing
efforts have already reduced
the company's inventory by
$110 million.

Lean Passion

polaris' new facility in alabama is creating a
blueprint for improvement. by tim o'connor
Working at Polaris Industries Inc.
is more than a job. For many employees, the Polaris name was symbolic of
their adventurous lifestyle before it
became a logo on their business card.
People are drawn to the company
because they get a rush from feeling
the mud splatter across their faces
as they take a tight turn in an ATV or
speed across the top of a snow bank in
a snowmobile. They are enthusiasts
first, and bring that to their jobs.
"Polaris people ride for the brand.
They love the company and they have
unbridled passion and dedication,"
says Ken Pucel, executive vice president of global operations, engineering
and lean. "The reason our products
66

manufacturing-today.com JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017

are great is because the people that
design them love great products. The
passion of the people finds its way into
the products they make. That's really
cool. We are the customer."

Lean Journey
Since its founding in 1954, Polaris has
become one of the world's leading
manufacturers of recreational sports
vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles,
side-by-side vehicles, snowmobiles,
moto-roadsters and mid-sized and
heavyweight motorcycles. Additionally,
the company produces industrial vehicles such as light-duty haulers, commercial utility vehicles, people-movers
and small military vehicles.

Midwest

Pucel joined Polaris in 2014 after a
quarter-century in various manufacturing, operations, engineering and
quality roles - including 10 years on
Boston Scientific's executive committee. Polaris CEO Scott Wine recruited
Pucel to seamlessly bring the company's engineering and operations divisions together under one leader to
boost innovation, speed and quality
efforts across a broader spectrum.
Pucel is now two years into the
journey of implementing lean
philosophies. Lean is a never-ending process of continuous improvement, but Polaris is already seeing a
measurable impact. Cycle times are
shorter and the amount of work in
progress is lower than past years.
A more streamlined production process also means fewer vehicles sitting
in inventory. Between year-end 2015
to year-end 2016, Polaris reduced its
inventory by $110 million, which Pucel
credits to the company's lean efforts.
Further, facilities are doing a better
job of delivering orders on time. "Our
performance on the delivery side has
improved dramatically," Pucel says.
Another major change Pucel instituted was a Value Improvement
Program, which quantifies all of the
continuous improvement projects
Polaris has completed according to
gross dollars saved. The company has
more than 1,200 value improvement
projects ongoing, of which more than
20 are expected to save a million dollars or more. Those projects cover
a wide swath of Polaris' operations,
from manufacturing to logistics and
material purchasing. The value of
improvement projects increased 19
percent after only one year of the program and rose another 16 percent in
2016, Pucel says.
"My focus when I first arrived was to
really look at the manufacturing ca-


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017

Table Of Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - 1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Table Of Contents
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Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Cover3
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