Conceived in 1985 as a response to offshore competition in Cincinnati Milacron's plastics injection machinery market, the "Wolfpack" strategy has expanded from Batavia to embrace the entire company.
Because of Wolfpack, so named for the aggressive, cooperative hunting habits of wolves, Cincinnati Milacron needs half the time, half the floor space, and half as many other assets to produce the same amount of product.
"Key to our production achievements was the redesign of the product into modules," explains Martin Lakes, manufacturing manager. "The modular design permitted each cell to take responsibility for the production, quality, and product improvements of a module. The result is a transformation of a linear, sequential production concept into one performing things in parallel with drastically compressed lead times."
Adds Lakes, "The Wolfpack goals are predicated on setting up a plant floor agile enough to support quick delivery as a marketing strategy."
The current operation can match or beat the delivery times of offshore competition, even those that are shipping their machines from warehouses.
Gaining that advantage required confronting two obstacles: a plant that had undergone numerous additions since its construction in 1969 and a reengineering of the plant's traditional culture. Management's solution began with a "clean sheet" viewpoint. There were no sacred cows.
By decentralizing and reorganizing the work flow, the Batavia plant doubled production capacity and gained an additional 20 percent of floor space, which is now being used to assemble other product lines. The results brought a 1994 Best Plants award.
Today the organization works in teams, synergistically combining their experience.