Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 58


Midwest

Specialty Steel Treating Inc.

"We have a solid training program," Sosnowski asserts. This is crucial when employees are heat-treating
challenging part configurations, such as large double
spiral bevel gears for a helicopter transmission. These
are challenging to heat treat to tight tolerances and hold
to a very tight distortion limit. At times, operators' work
requires them to be near ovens that are operating from
300 F up to 1,800 F. It also can mean working with liquid
nitrogen for processes that occur at minus 300 F.

Value Stream Mapping
Specialty Steel Treating has been achieving lean milestones with value stream mapping. "We've taken processes and value stream mapped the entire process to identify areas of waste and redundancies in an effort to reduce
lead times," Sosnowski says. "We had lead times for some
part families of over 30 days - now it's less than 14 days -
by identifying waste. We identify every touchpoint from
paper to part - from the time an order is received until it
is loaded on a truck - and every step along the way."

Depending on the complexity, this process can take
approximately a year. Specialty Steel Treating employees
will use several walls of a conference room to diagram the
entire production cycle of a part on sheets of paper that
wrap around the room. Then sticky notes are placed on
the diagram to identify every step in the manufacturing
process. This creates a value stream map of the part's current state, which enables employees to see where redundancies and waste occur.
Then the employees create a map of the new
part-manufacturing process with all the action items
and tasks listed in place on sticky notes that need to
be done step-by-step to accomplish the improvement.
These tasks and action items are tracked until each
one is completed. "It's a long process," Sosnowski
concedes. "The first one we did was a big one. Once
you identify those, you try to fine-tune yourselves.
Now we're getting into small, more micro-processes
vs. the whole macro-process."
A similar approach by Specialty Steel Treating called
the fast response board posts daily production and
quality information to provide communication among
different shifts - production runs 24/7 - and fast resolution to issues as they arise.
"Each manager reports their department's performance - and whether they had any problems the night
before - so everybody knows what everybody is working on," Sosnowski explains.

Future Success
Sosnowski attributes the company's success in its 60th
year of business to three key points: performance, integrity and improvement.
"Performance to exceed customer expectations
with regard to quality, delivery and cost," Sosnowski
lists. "Integrity to maintain the highest level of integrity to our customers and the industry. And improvement to maximize productivity and efficiency of all
business activities through a program of continuous
improvement."
Specialty Steel Treating is in its third generation of
family ownership and management, and the fourth
generation is becoming involved in the business. For
the future, the company expects additional growth in
the aerospace and other sectors.
"We're going to continue to invest in current and
new technology," Sosnowski says. "We are big players
in gas and vacuum carburizing, and we will continue to
58

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016

Contents
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 1
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 2
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Contents
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