They average around 20 to 50 drawings a week and have produced tens of thousands of details. They’re the Western Window Systems CAD team. And to be successful, they have to work lean.
“We work behind the scenes,” says senior project manager and CAD department manager John Dirksen. “And because our customers are internal and include various departments, it’s not always easy for an outsider to see how much work is really going on in the area.”
Headed up by Dirksen, the CAD team is made up of draftsmen Errol Matthews, Steve Abina, Spencer Dan, and David Slater. Combined, the four have a total of over 15 years of experience in the company’s CAD department. Each has his specialty – special projects, details, production drawings, etc. -- and many are cross-trained in various areas to keep workflow smooth.
Dirksen says day-to-day efforts to work lean include moving the decision making process on drawings to the team level and employing a “one piece flow.” This method, utilized when more than one draftsman works on the same project, effectively splits the work load while moving the project forward.
“Despite all the work, the team never gets stressed out,” Dirksen says. “They’re always willing to stop what they’re doing to solve a problem.”
Currently, Dirksen’s team is working on a lean solution for standardizing handle locations across all door products. He hopes to have the initiative finished early next year. But the most beneficial of his team’s lean solutions, Dirksen says, was the creation of dynamic blocks. Implemented through AutoCAD, the innovative program cut workloads in half and expedited the drawing process.
“They’re humble, they work well together, and they’re friends as well as co-workers,” says Dirksen of his team. “They don’t look for accolades. They’re just really good at what they do.”
Congratulations to Errol Matthews, Steve Abina, Spencer Dan, David Slater, and John Dirksen of the CAD team, Western Window Systems’ lean problem solvers for December.