Success isn't something Nypro Inc. takes for granted.
``The world is changing. Time is collapsed and there is open global competition,'' said President Brian Jones, noting that U.S. companies have to be wary of competitors worldwide. ``There's been a fundamental change in the business environment.''
In 1995, injection molding accounted for 90-95 percent of Nypro's business. By 2000, it had dropped to 60 percent as customers wanted more-integrated suppliers.
``By 2005, we see value-added services will roughly be 80 percent of our business. That's conservative; it may grow faster,'' he said.
At the same time, Jones noted that change has brought on new competitors that Nypro has not faced before.
``We're seeing a total change to global supply, and the first to get a global footprint will win,'' he said, adding that original equipment manufacturers are cutting suppliers, preferring to let a few manage the system worldwide.
Nypro's strategy today can be summed up like this: Find the right customer and work together to succeed in the global marketplace.
``Get close to your customer and cut the time it takes to bring products to market,'' said Jones, who also serves as president of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence in Wheeling, Ill.
Jones was a speaker during a Lean Enterprise Workshop held May 6 at Nypro's Clinton headquarters, in cooperation with AME and the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Worcester, Mass.
For Nypro, success has been the ongoing story, with about 9,000 employees at 29 plants worldwide and the expectation of its 17th consecutive record year in fiscal 2002, with sales of about $800 million. It implemented an employee stock ownership plan in 1998.
``If you can't learn something [at Nypro], then you don't belong in business. Nypro sets the standard today,'' said Dick Reed, AME New England regional director.
Nypro will mold and assemble more than 6 billion parts this year, said Jones. Nypro is pushing to embrace the fundamentals of lean manufacturing and to make changes at all its plants uniformly.
Nypro wants to offer standardized facilities to its customers worldwide, around the clock.
The firm has concentrated on health care, electronics and telecommunications, automotive, and consumer and industrial.
Steve Glorioso, vice president of electronics and communications operations, said the firm pared its customer list from 550 in 1989 to 200 in 2001 using segment analysis to determine high-growth applications, targeting industry leaders and then using a qualification program.
Once the fit is determined, Nypro shares information with customers, even observing an open-book policy on costs. The company shares information via intranets, conference calls and even, in some cases, with a Nypro representative stationed at the customer site. The goal is to help customers get products to market more quickly.
Kim W. Simpson, process technology director, said the key to lean manufacturing is, ``You have to have a system people can agree to. Whoever moves the fastest today, will win tomorrow.''
Simpson listed some lean manufacturing successes at Nypro:
* Nypro Shenzhen in China cut its mold setup time in half.
* The firm's Clinton Assembly Division cut its operator hours per thousand parts by 23 percent.
* Nypro Carolina reduced the time on a project from 5.5 days to 7.2 minutes, from initial molding to finished product.
Angelo Sabatalo, Nypro's corporate director of organizational development and training, said lean manufacturing works best when you can blend customer needs with supplier abilities.
``You go in to remove waste in a systematic way, but the goal is perfection,'' Sabatalo said.
With that in mind, Steve Callahan, president of Nypro spinoff Radius Product Development Inc., said product design engineers must be involved at the start.
The benefits, he said, are lower cost for development and the final product, time savings and accountability during the process.