April Stay Connected Event...
Hirsh Precision Products
Tour & Happy Hour
Our Stay Connected events happen once a month and is a chance for supply chain professionals to visit other facilities and learn from their methods. We get to meet leadership in these companies and then end with a networking happy hour. Join us for the education as well as the fun!
Hirsh Precision designs, manufactures, and ensures the quality of precision-machined parts and assemblies. Our cutting edge equipment, technology, and processes attract the attention of multiple industries.
We had another fantastic tour on the APICS NoCo circuit. Hirsh Precision Products hosted our group in Boulder at their state-of-the-art facilities. Our tour guides were Steve Hirsh (Founder/Director of Engineering), Mike Hirsh (President/CEO), Peter Doyle (COO) and Mark Cartwright (Production Scheduling & Customer Service Manager). All four were on hand to give us an introduction to the company before leading us through the production floor.
Hirsh's work mix is two thirds medical, dealing predominantly with metal and plastic media. They currently run 2 shifts. Their eventual goal is to run 24 hours. The shop is divided into half milling, half lathing functions. In 21 machining centers, they average around 70 setups per week.
The sweet spot in Hirsh Precision's business model is 25-500 items per order: larger than prototype quantities, and smaller than mass production. Our tour was divided into three groups, giving plenty of opportunity to ask questions during the busy afternoon shift.
Team Hirsh discussed how increasing their automation doessn't reduce their number of headcount, just changes the type of jobs and work. Like many front range manufacturers, finding skilled labor is one of their biggest constraints.
Their newest machine, the Fastems 8760, showed off a rack of 30 pallets and the ability to self-schedule. After 1.5 years in operation at Hirsh, the machine is at 70% capacity. They hope to push it closer to operating a full 8760 hours every year... hence, the name 8760 Fastems.
The tour visited their Quality Assurance room, which featured a controlled climate and two CMMs (Coordinate Measuring Machines). Hirsh performs two inspections for each batch: First Article and in process, the latter of which triggers at a different frequency interval based on the part.
Our group also gained a glimpse into Hirsh's internal scorecards and paperless shop floor management. Their PSA, or Plan/Schedule Adherence, takes a snapshot of each production line two hours into a shift to make sure everything is on track. This way adjustments may be made quickly and are easily caught. The final PSA formats were designed by the operators themselves to ensure the system was smart and agile. Maintenance for all of Hirsh's machines is also treated as a production item so necessary maintenance appears in the schedule and isn't overlooked. All of this factors into the ERP and proprietary shop floor software that ensures Hirsh can produce their high-quality product in a timely fashion.
If you missed our tour of Hirsh this time around, be sure to check out their webpage at http://hirshprecisionproductsinc.com/. This was a packed tour with impressive machinery, expert guides, and excellent learning all around.
Thank you to the team at Hirsh Precision Products for hosting an amazing tour!
Questions We Asked Hirsh
1. Does your facility employ Lean techniques and how hard was that for your company to implement?
Hirsh Precision is committed to continuous improvement and has implemented a variety of lean techniques. Our business consists of high mix, low volume production, so our production processes are based more around processes than dedicated product cells. Our initiatives include optimizing quality assurance inspections, completing non-value added activities in parallel with production, organizing the work environment based on 6S principles, and conducting regular kaizen events to identify and eliminate waste.
2. What is the difference between yours and the production systems run by your competitors?
Our motto, “Quality Work Delivered on Time” guides how we invest in systems and business processes. We invest in the latest technology and often customize our machine tool investments to ensure they fit our customers’ needs. We have created proprietary software to manage our production processes, and we have a culture that encourages innovation, collaboration, and the pursuit of excellence.
3. How has your Lean management system bridged the gap between your organization and your customers?
Our customers appreciate the price reductions we can offer as a result of our lean initiatives. In addition, our lean initiatives allow us to maintain consistent lead times and carry virtually no inventory. The strong relationships we have with our key customers allow us to share information that helps us better understand their needs and how we can become a supply chain partner.
4. Does your company have more of a focus on productivity or quality?
5. What value has your company leadership seen as a result of your lean management techniques?
In the past several years, our investments in new technology and lean initiatives have allowed our team to learn new skills. A focus on efficiency makes our workplace more creative, fun, and engaging. In addition, we’ve been able to effectively push back on customer requests to stock inventory for which demand is uncertain.
6. What message would you want to give someone who might be considering lean management for the first time in their organization?