Heil forum focuses on supplier partnering
Aug 1, 2006 12:00 PM
Heil Trailer International has begun to develop processes through continuous improvement, lean manufacturing, and materials practices to reach new levels of customer satisfaction and meet the increased demand in the market. The firm invited select suppliers to a two-day symposium at its flagship Athens TN manufacturing facility recently to work with Heil's management team, which included manufacturing, engineering, regional managers, and the Materials Group.
The forum targeted how Heil can best work with their supplier base to meet this mutually beneficial goal. Topics discussed revolved around demand-driven supply, inventory management, product distribution, and process optimization.
One of the main goals of the session was figuring out how to leverage current technology with HTI's suppliers so that more quality product could be delivered to the market by reducing lead times and improving workflow. For example, suppliers will have password-protected access to the Heil VPN, common database manipulation, and engineering exchanges.
HTI is using the Lean philosophy and continuous-improvement principles to enable the plant to pull material from finished goods stock from the suppliers' facility. By better forecasting and demand planning, it has developed a “Pull” and/or “KanBan” system with critical suppliers.
Heil is developing new and existing channels to bolster aftermarket parts and service. Heil Tank Service (HTS) plans to offer customers the ability to acquire calibration charts, repair procedures, and other useful information about their trailers via the Internet. HTS is laying the foundation for online commerce, including virtual parts look-up and online ordering.
HTI is working with its vendors to develop new products and services. By focusing on lightweight alloys and Taylor Welded Blanks (TWB) systems, Heil is strengthening stress-laden areas and reducing weight non-load-bearing areas of the vessel and run gear. HTI is exploring the use of modular systems that combine existing parts into preassembled sub-systems for ease of installation and manufacturability.
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