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Lean Boot Camp Comes to AlphaUSA

21 Jan

AlphaUSA  hosted our annual week-long Kaizen Bootcamp, with enough participants for two separate labs.  Fourteen participants from across the country (some from as far as Oregon and Florida) came out to see “lean” in action.

Boot campers perform a structured “blitz” to drive out waste. Alpha showcased our already tight processes, then the group poured over process details and brainstormed to root out any small bit of waste they could find to make them even leaner.  The groups focused on process flow in the shipping of the tumbling area and on paperwork and gauge flow between QC to the press.

The bootcamp is just another way AlphaUSA is continually working to get closer to our lean goals, it’s exciting to bring in the Lean Learning Camp and participating companies to get outside insight.

Examining processes to go lean!

Alpha’s Going Lean

11 Dec

Lean is all about being organized and more efficient, using less work to maintain or exceed the same quality product.  AlphaUSA is continually transforming our work areas and processes to be lean.

Long time Alpha employee, Mike Hootman, is championing this lean movement. Along side Production Manager Doug Prime, they are continuing to make sure that our facility is becoming  more efficient and safer day-to-day.  Alpha has even brought in a new set of eyes, the Lean Learning Center (LLC), to push us further.  The LLC has been hosting monthly labs for our Alpha employees onsite, enabling us to learn lean right on our own equipment, and in our own offices.

The rules of lean are simple: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

Take some time to use the “5 S’s” in your life, and you’ll see how helpful a little lean can be.

Alpha’s Got a Greener Point of View

22 Apr

Turn off the lights when you’re not in a room. Take a quick shower, not a bath. Recycle your junk mail. We all know we can make a difference and save resources by making little changes day to day.

There aren’t really quick tips to running 125,000 sq. feet of facilities greener. But, Alpha is not about quick fixes, we have a serious commitment to our environment and planet.

One thing we’ve done is change the lighting systems in our manufacturing facility, switching from 400W High-Intensity Discharge bulbs to T5 High-Output bulbs. If you’re wondering what that means, it translates into an energy savings of 50% while giving off twice the light. But that’s just the beginning of our story.

That’s why we’ve rolled out our new environmental page, so you can learn about how we innovate and update our business to do our part in saving the planet. From recycling materials to changing our processes and work habits, Alpha has been working hard for the little blue ball in our solar system we call home.

Happy Earth Day.

:Detroit Gets the IDEA

13 Apr

Advocates of innovation, Alpha excitedly attended IDEA: Detroit a few weeks ago. The day was a mashing together of striking thinkers and ideas from southeastern Michigan, as well as from around the country.

“Tinkerers” at heart, we were intrigued by the inventions of Dale Dougherty and Make Magazine, and excited that Maker Faire will be coming to our own backyard (The Henry Ford) this summer. Wello grabbed our attention with more than just its name, offering the WaterWheel as an inspiring solution to water transportation challenges throughout the world. Chevrolet wowed us with the inner workings of the new Chevy Volt, while Ford impressed us with its simple yet inspired “ask the audience” customer involvement. IDEA left us with no shortage of inspiration.

Check the links to these ingenious presenters for now, and shortly we’ll let you in on a few of Alpha’s own ideas that arose from the conference.

This is What We Do.

9 Feb

It’s what we are talking about in this town:

Did you see that Chrysler commercial?

The “Imported From Detroit” ad has rallied supporters worldwide around our city, its story, its people.

Reinvention, a living reality Detroit has become famous for,  is a clearly featured theme of the ad and its focus on Detroit as a gritty hardworking city– highlighting our region’s trip to “hell and back.”

The most important and moving aspect of the ad was its focus on Detroit’s talent. It paints a picture of Detroit through its dedicated citizens.  The stalwart Detroiters you see embellishing the cityscape aren’t make believe. They are a real part of our community, our mission.

Chrysler invested in the two minute, longest-ever SuperBowl ad of course with the intention of selling vehicles. What they ended up doing was telling our story of determination to upwards of 100 million people.  And we are proud.

This is the Motor City. This is what we do.


Inch-vesting

4 Jan

“Investing” brings to mind a large financial commitment in something valuable, bringing in profit over time. However, a more innovative approach could be small.

Mary Lorene Carter and Jerry Paffendorf are the brains behind Loveland and the apparent inventors of micro-investing. Their idea: everyone can help revitalize Detroit by purchasing a single inch of the city, receiving a little deed in the mail. Inches are purchased online, viewable on a virtual map, and directly accessible via a drive to the city. Anyone can have a stake in the city “microhood”.

Loveland teaches a common lesson for any project: the effectiveness of working piece by piece. Last week at the Livonia A.M. Rotary Club meeting, members discussed some seemingly overwhelming social issues. Then Chuck, fellow rotary member & Alpha’s COO, cited the Loveland micro-investing concept, to encourage members to simply “do what you can”, nothing is going to be solved in one swoop.

We can all be challenged to inch-vest in our own communities, not to literally buy a chunk of vacant lot, but to give a piece of free time or make a small donation to a worthy organization.

You can help grow the value of your own community, inch by inch.

screen shot of a "microhood" from the Loveland website.

 

When Survival Isn’t Enough

10 Nov

Businesses that successfully weathered the past year’s economic downturn are the survivors that will define the evolution of manufacturing in the coming decade. To keep up and continue moving forward, businesses need to invest in new technologies, but even successful businesses are challenged to establish funding for these projects.

Alpha COO, Chuck Dardas, recently expressed these frustrations to Crain’s Detroit Business, the full article is available here (free registration with Crain’s is required).

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