Faster off the Block- Reducing Lead Times at Spectrum Aquatics

About Spectrum Aquatics

Spectrum Aquatics dove into manufacturing products for commercial swimming pools and spas more than 45 years ago. With 58 employees at its facility in Missoula, Montana, Spectrum produces a wide array of accessories ranging from pool ladders and lifeguard chairs to custom equipment such as diving and starting platforms for competitive events. While Montana may not seem like the obvious location for creating pool product innovations, Spectrum has successfully developed specialty lines of pool lifts and other accessibility equipment that have been installed in community and university aquatic centers across the country.

The Challenge

 Over the last few years, Spectrum has been pursuing opportunities to increase production at its Missoula facility, in order to enhance its capacity to design and manufacture products for its client base. To prepare for a successful and sustainable increase in production, the company wanted to reduce long production lead times and improve its efforts to attract and retain skilled talent.

MMEC's Role

Spectrum Aquatics was one of MMEC’s early clients, and they have been now been working together for more than 20 years. To help reduce long production lead times, MMEC helped Spectrum use tools like 5S, Setup Reduction, Value Stream Mapping, and spearheaded a long-term effort to develop, implement, and extend lean manufacturing bestpractices. Through the lean & 5S efforts, 20% of facility floor space has been freed up which has enabled Spectrum to add several capabilities to its operation. For example, the company is now able bring a powder coating system in house. Powder coating vendors in the supply chain have been a major bottleneck process that inhibited the product flow, so completing this process internally will help facilitate shorter production lead times. In addition, lean efforts have allowed automatic parts deburring to be integrated into the manufacturing process, resulting in a 30% reduction in labor cost. Most recently, Spectrum Aquatics is working with MMEC to implement a Smart Talent Program. Smart Talent builds systems to attract talent, engage employees, and enhance training & development capabilities to address the workforce challenges of this industry in Montana.

"MMEC programs have helped us make some key improvements to our productivity,” said VP of Manufacturing Joe Weimer. “Production flow was mapped in our blanket facility with MMEC’s assistance, which led us to re-organize the entire facility and streamline the flow of product, thereby increasing labor efficiencies by 35%."

Joe Weimer, VP of Manufacturing