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Like in any manufacturing operation, the constraint governs the
throughput. To increase throughput—
today the maximum is enough sheet
metal parts for 13 machines a shift—
an improvement team integrated a
quick-color-change system inside the
paint booths and added different carriers that could handle more parts.
The team also replaced a convection
oven baking operation with an infrared oven.
When changing colors, operators
previously left a gap between different colored parts, because the draft
from the convection oven could blow
the paint from one batch onto another, contaminating those parts. “With
an infrared oven, the coating congeals quickly,” Traywick said. “We can
run strictly to demand without risk of
The Savannah operation tends to out-source simple fabrications to other facilities around the world, including the
JCB plant in India; in these situations,
a long supply chain remains cost-effective. In recent years, though, the
company has been reshoring or near-shoring a number of components,
especially the complex ones that require close supplier collaboration. For
instance, it outsources armored plate
fabrication for the HMEE line to custom fabricators in the Southeast.
On the tour, Traywick pointed to a
large area of parts on the floor, including sheet metal subassemblies, metal
tubes, and hoses (see Figure 7).
About every year or two, JCB employees gather all the contracted parts.
“We lay them out by commodity
type,” Traywick said, “and we label
each with the supplier and the price.
We then give everyone in the office
and on the floor a chance to walk
through and write down potential
cost-savings ideas. So say you see two
hoses are almost identical for different products, but one costs twice as
much. Could we just use the less expensive one for all products?
“We realize the best ideas come
from either the people who are on
the floor or people in the front office
who don’t have jobs related to ma-
chine design or production,” he con-
tinued. “In fact, we get some of the
best ideas from people who have the
least amount of knowledge about the
machines. The last time we did this exercise, we took about
$1,000 out of the machine cost, which is pretty significant.”
JCB is all about standardization. Everyone on the assem-
bly line gets trained the same way, and the torque they ap-
ply to bolts and other joints is continually monitored. Met-
rics are updated per the procedures outlined by the JCB
Production System. The offices and lobby look the same as
every JCB facility. Even the lake and its mysterious island
mirrors the landscape in front of every JCB plant.
The structure seems rigid, yet according to sources, in-
stead of stifling idea generation, it in fact promotes it. The
open office plan encourages purchasing personnel to talk
with manufacturing and design engineers, who talk with
Traywick and others conceded that it’s not always per-
fect; no company structure really is. But for the most part,
the structure allows a global corporation to act small and
agile. Such a structure, predictable yet flexible, may be a
valuable thing in an increasingly volatile global construc-
Senior Editor Tim Heston can be reached at email@example.com.
JCB Savannah, 2000 Bamford Blvd., Pooler, GA 31322, 912-447-2000,
Georgia Manufacturing Alliance, 750 Longleaf Blvd., Suite C, Lawrence-
ville, GA 30046, 678-896-9312, www.georgiamanufacturing.com