Original Date: 02/09/1998
Revision Date: 04/22/2003
United Electric (UE) Controls is a privately-owned company that was founded in 1931. Over the years, the company fueled its growth with focused goals, a tremendous spirit, and a willingness to undertake challenges. In 1987, UE began its conversion from large batch to lean manufacturing under the guidance of the Vice President of Operations. By the early 1990s, the company was already using such methods as KanBan, Kaizen, Single Minute Exchange of Dies, and Poka-yoke in its production operation before most companies had ever heard of them. Today, UE is an international manufacturer of durable, reliable pressure and temperature switches, controls, and sensors which range from simple, low technology units to highly specialized custom designs.
With its corporate headquarters located in Watertown, Massachusetts, UE maintains numerous U.S. and international offices, employs 280 personnel worldwide, and achieved $35 million in revenues for 1997. Over the years, UE has received national recognition and created a tradition for innovative and resourceful approaches to continuous improvement. In 1990, the company won the Shingo Prize for world-class manufacturing and excellence in productivity and process improvement; quality enhancement; and customer satisfaction. This award is considered one of the “Triple Crown” industrial excellence awards, along with the Baldrige National Quality Award and the Deming Prize. Today, UE’s approaches to continuous improvement have expanded and emanate throughout all facets of the business. Among the best practices documented were UE’s KanBan pull production system; visual control; valued employee program; and educational partnerships.
Around 1992, UE reduced its wasted space to the extent that operations which were formerly in three buildings were now under one roof. In addition, the company tore down physical barriers between employees; consolidated and/or regrouped various departments (e.g., merger of marketing and engineering resources, colocation of customer service and scheduling); and rearranged operational equipment on the production floor. The result was a very visible, open environment that promoted communication and cooperation among the employees, and facilitated better control over the production floor. One consolidation (resource library with human resources) led to the creation of the Resource Center. As the central hub of continuous improvement, this administrative function reports directly to the president of the company; supports all departments and work centers; and provides coordination for programs to enhance the productivity, competitiveness, and profitability of the company.
Since its original survey in June 1991, UE continues to advance in quality, excellence, and adaptability. The company’s reputation for dependable, reliable products is a result of innovative manufacturing techniques, superior design, and a corporate focus on uncompromising quality. The BMP survey team considers the following practices to be among the best in industry and government.
TABLE OF ACRONYMS:
The following acronyms were used in this report:
|CNC|| ||Computer Numerical Control|
|DEP|| ||Design Engineering Procedure|
|FC|| ||Flow Chart|
|GBMP || ||Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership|
|JIT|| ||Just In Time|
|MIT|| ||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|SMED || ||Single Minute Exchange of Dies|
|TQM|| ||Total Quality Management|
|UE|| ||United Electric|
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