Creating a Masterpiece: Lawrenceville Manufacturer of Artist Canvas Creates a Lean Culture

GaMEP staff member working with team of people within manufacturing company.
Customer Profile

In 1963, two paintbrush salesmen changed the coating process used for artist canvases from a hand process to a mass produced process. By purchasing a textile machine, rolling the fabric and applying gesso material continuously instead of sheet by sheet, Tara Materials was born. Today, Tara Materials, a privately-owned company headquartered in Lawrenceville, Georgia, operates three facilities, manufacturing plants in Lawrenceville and Tijuana, Mexico, and a distribution center in San Diego.

Situation

As with many manufacturers, Tara Materials was being affected by the recession and overseas manufacturers who were taking away customers by offering similar products at a lower price. Between 2009 and 2011, Tara Materials was able to make slow and steady improvements in the quality of its products and customers were starting to take notice. In early 2011, the company went through a restructuring and Mike Pedroza was asked to take over the plant manager role. As part of his new responsibilities, he was tasked to help the plant become more efficient. Based on his past experience with lean manufacturing, he knew that to make the changes management was expecting, he needed to make lean part of the everyday culture, and have it viewed as a long-term solution and not just a fad.

Knowing that he wanted to work with a university instead of a consulting group, Mike conducted a Google search on lean assistance in Georgia, and came across the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech. He met with Bill Ritsch, North Metro Region Manager, and Sam Darwin, project manager at the GaMEP, to review his situation. Observation of the operation suggested there was too much time being wasting moving material around in the facility, and that the machines were not set up in a configuration that would optimize output.

Solution

Ritsch and Darwin worked with Pedroza to craft a plan that would allow two machines to operate more efficiently by working side-by-side and discharging product toward each other. By operating with one packer for two machines, the flow of product became smoother, taking fewer steps and less time to get the material out.

As part of its overall improvement of processes, Tara Materials moved core material closer to the production line, created standard operating procedures for new lines, and reduced the material scrapped due to inconsistencies and defects from as much as 17 percent to between 5 and 7 percent.

Tara Materials is now in a growth stage and is bringing on new customers, as well as increasing order sizes of current customers. By improving processes and better utilizing equipment, Tara Materials is able to meet these growing demands and has recently added another shift and line, resulting in additional production of high-quality product and jobs.

Tara Materials is currently sending numerous employees to the GaMEP Lean Boot Camp open-enrollment course and is also working with Kelley Hundt, another GaMEP project manager, to help reach a goal of reducing machine set-up time by 30 percent.

In 2011 Tara Materials utilized the Georgia Retraining Tax Credit, a program that enables Georgia businesses to offset their investment in training of employees, and is in the process of submitting their paperwork for the 2012 credit. For more information on the tax credit, visit http://www.georgia.org/competitive-advantages/tax-credits/Pages/retraining.aspx.

Results

  • Tara Materials moved core material closer to the production line, reducing distance between material and line by 50 percent
  • Reduced scrapped material from as much as 17 percent to between 5 and 7 percent
  • Increased product production by 92 percent, from 13,000 yards of material to 25,000 yards of material per day

Testimonial

“We set up two kaizen events, in both the coating department and the rolling department. Productivity went through the roof and morale is high.” Pedroza said.