Manufacturing Today - January/February 2016 - 94

International

Escort Manufacturing

Achieving High Quality
Escort Manufacturing's manufacturing demand is high
volume, medium mix. The company manages a portfolio
of 30 to 40 different types of products and can produce
between 60 to 70 different subassemblies to make up
those products.
The 65,000-square-foot environmentally controlled facility in Mississauga is organized around and guided by a
number of lean manufacturing principles. "By applying lean
principles, we can keep our costs down and maintain a level
of quality that cannot be matched by even the most wellknown offshore manufacturers," Chan says.
The manufacturing facility is divided into six work cells
with individual stations within each cell. Each cell functions
as its own factory with its own labor, production schedule
and inventory of raw materials. Each cell specializes in the
production of a family of products. The majority of electronic components are managed through distribution inplant stores.
Each work station within each cell is designed to eliminate unnecessary manufacturing activities and waste. The
equipment and processes used in the cells adhere to the
principle of poka-yoke, or mistake-proofing. "There is only
one way," Chan says.
The company develops its own hardware and software
tools in-house. "We are very self-sufficient," he adds.
Manufacturing personnel are cross-trained in every station within each cell and rotated daily. "Each worker on the
line could, if necessary, build a product entirely by themselves - they know each product and how to put it together,"
Chan says.
Staff members are also cross-trained on how to work in
every cell in the plant. "The benefit there is that, in periods
of high demand, we can leverage labor from a cell that is less
busy to help out the cell in high demand," he adds.
The company takes a statistically driven approach to
problem solving. This includes analyzing the root cause of
equipment failures and creating processes to prevent future recurrences.
"This approach is working very well for us," Chan says.
"Before we started, our rate of customer returns was higher
than we expected. Today, we've reduced our reject rate by
nearly three times; if a product failed, we now know why it
failed, and we implement many measures in place to minimize failures and reoccurrence.
"Based on a continuous improvement culture, Escort
has positioned itself securely to continue to provide worldclass, high-quality manufactured products," he adds. mt
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