Reducing production waste while improving efficiency and safety

A US hybrid electric luxury automotive group experiencing poor internal material management practices hired us to help plan, design, and implement an effective material replenishment strategy for their company. The client’s main objectives were to reduce material handling wastes and optimize line-side material presentation to the benefit of the operator.


The FTE team:

  • Led the client team through the in-house design, build, and implementation of dozens of material delivery and line-side storage racks to address parts damage and ergonomics issues while improving visual management and operator efficiency
  • Developed an internal part racking and part presentation standard to maintain best practices and to ensure continued alignment with the new strategy
  • Reconfigured warehouse storage from random addressing to fixed addressing and assigned storage addresses to optimize picking and kitting routes
  • Utilized FTE’s Visual Project Management toolset to coordinate project activities and communicate status throughout execution

After initial implementation, FTE Performance provided guidance and support while the client continued to propagate the improved material replenishment strategy throughout the operation, further realizing gains in cost and efficiency.

  • All racks designed to comply with Ergonomic guidelines
  • Damage during line-side delivery eliminated
  • Estimated waste elimination of 800 minutes per job
  • New picking and kitting processes saved $275k in material handling labor costs
  • Improved employee engagement


Poorly optimized packaging combined with excessive parts handling was resulting in damage to expensive components for our automotive manufacturing client. An inefficient materials handling workflow was also determined to be a contributing factor.

Solution: Reduce handling and improve packaging

The FTE client team introduced a direct repacking process and coordinated part picking routes to reduce the steps needed to deliver components to mobile line-side racks. Damage to component parts was reduced even further by adding parts protection directly into line-side rack designs. In addition to reducing damage to component parts, these improvements resulted in an 800 minute reduction in non-value-added activity per-job.


Parts wrapped in warehouse before delivery and unwrapped again at point of driving unnecessary labor and material.


Parts delivered unwrapped in protective foam pockets, saving considerable process time

Generic transport racks were not fully optimized for production line-side parts presentation. As a result, more physical effort was required for workers in the production workflow. The client’s attempts to resolve this problem with one-off custom racks only added unnecessary cost to the equation.

Solution: Standardize and improve rack design to optimize the picking process

The FTE team worked with the client to standardize on a cost-effective modular transport rack design to help optimize the picking process. The modular design allowed the client to reuse the existing shipment packaging and eliminate an entire parts re-packaging step in the workflow. The resulting optimized picking process helped save the client $250K in annual labor costs.


Line-side part quantities not visually indicated. Cannot identify missing parts until they are picked in station.


Exactly three jobs organized such that missing parts are visually identified and help chain is notified.

The client’s inefficient warehouse configuration and storage practices were time consuming and labor intensive. These factors had a direct impact on the parts kitting process. Non-linear picking paths and random parts storage locations in the warehouse increased picking times

Solution: Improve warehouse storage and kitting practices

The FTE team helped improve warehouse storage efficiency by establishing fixed addresses for component parts and arrangement by final installation. These improvements helped reduce part picking times. Kitted parts were positioned on line-side racks to improve picking linearity, ergonomics, and efficiency. These improvements saved the client $250K in annual labor costs.

FTE Performance’s Output

The FTE team redefined the client’s picking, kitting and sequencing processes and documented all necessary improvements. Along with optimizing picking routes and warehouse storage locations, the team was able to deliver 240 kitting and line-side delivery racks built in-house to a new standard, impacting multiple categories of operations performance.

Over 30 existing ergonomic concerns were eliminated by improving part presentation.
Mutilation due to internal material handling of the worst four components was eliminated.
The redesigned part presentation process and elimination of operator unpacking reduced waste by 800 minutes per job.
The optimized picking process and routes led to warehouse labor reduction savings of $250k annually.

“FTE Performance Consulting helped optimize our warehouse layout, storage, material flow and kitting processes with significant throughput improvement in three different facilities. We set new annual Sales and EBITA records in Q3, which were achieved with the optimization efforts led by FTE’s guidance contributing a great deal. They are very “hands-on” and we highly recommend FTE!”
John Hanighen
Cloyes Corporation
“We worked hard, laughed, and jabbed. We appreciate FTE becoming part of our team and are absolutely looking forward to partnering again in the future.”
Ann Fricke
Director of Operations
Dakkota Integrated Systems
“FTE helped us improve the throughput and quality in three of our critical factories. They did not just make a list of things for others to go do. They became a part of the team and brought the experience, leadership, processes, tools, and capacity to complement our production and continuous improvement teams in actually making the improvements on the shop floor. The results exceeded targets and have been sustained through continued use of the processes and systems deployed.”
Jeff Schick
Vice President Manufacturing
Pella Corporation
“What differentiates FTE from other Lean Consulting firms
is their flexibility and adaptability.
Tim Foley
Director, Performance and Learning
Navistar International
“I wholeheartedly recommend FTE to colleagues and associates. It’s a team full of cutting-edge talent, with dedication, and passion for creating stability and standardization within our organization”
Tim Hogan
District Director of Service
Rush Enterprises, Inc.
“Not only do they possess deep knowledge of Lean Manufacturing, but they also know how to transform organizations with practical and proven solutions.”
Steve St. Angelo
American Kaizen
Former Senior Managing Officer of Toyota Motor Corporation and Chief Executive Officer, Latin America, and Caribbean Region
“FTE Performance Consulting was outstanding in their performance with scoping, managing, and implementing the MES System in our Paint facility.”
Justin Schlater
IT Director Associate
Navistar International
“FTE is not a company to just tell you what needs to be improved, they will lead the improvement, ensure the alignment of leaders and that processes are in place to sustain gains.”
John Mocny
General Manager, Vehicle and Supply Chain Operations
Harley-Davidson Motor Company

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