You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure: A Fox Valley Tool & Die Story Part 2

You Can't Manage What you Don't Measure: A Fox Valley Tool and Die Story, Part 2

This is part 2 of our 3-part blog series featuring Kaukauna, Wisconsin-based manufacturer Fox Valley Tool & Die (FVTD) and their journey to improving quality as told by FVTD managers Stacey Chmielewski and Stephanie Kruse in the Better Your Best contest at SyteLineCon 2016. When manufacturers want to change the work culture, such as embarking on a quality initiative like FVTD, it often requires awareness and acceptance by all employees involved in order to be successful. In part 1 of our series, we saw the challenges that FVTD experienced when they first implemented the quality program, and now we’re going to take a look at the measurable results they achieved from their efforts.

Proof is in the Numbers

According to Stephanie Kruse, FVTD really pushed their quality solution in 2014, three years after the initial implementation. Kruse said, “2014 is when we really hit the QCS solution hard. We made sure that everything was getting logged and everything had its threshold met, because we set a $200 threshold on our MRRs. So if the non-conformity didn’t have $200 worth of cost into it, we didn’t log it. That’s not something we wanted to know. So 2014 is when we really put this into play.”

FVTD compared their 2014 fiscal year to their 2015 fiscal year. During 2014, they had 488 MRRs. After their new process of sharing the MRR data with machine operators, they had 472 MRRs. That was a reduction of 3%, but the quality team wanted better results, so they dug further. The quality team found that they had 135 cases of duplication. After the implementation of the Shop-Trak/Doc-Trak solution, there were only 43 cases.

Kruse said, “We had a 68% reduction in our shop of duplicated issues. That was phenomenal for us. Now we had 2016 to work to get it down to an even lower number.”

She went on to say:

We also looked at some different options of how we were getting rid of these duplications. We looked at our customer returns. In 2014, we had 36. In 2015, we had 24. So we had a reduction of 33%. It wasn’t good enough for us, so now we’re striving to get that number down even further in the 2016 fiscal year.

We also took a look at the customer complaints. We had 53 cases of duplication and customer complaints in 2014. We only had 29 in 2015. So we got a reduction of 45% there also. That was huge for us. We were making sure that customer satisfaction was going up and our issues were going down.

We wanted to look at customer complaints a little bit closer. So we took a look at how many we had out there, not just duplicated, but the complete picture. We had 145 in 2014 and 136 in 2015. That wasn’t good enough for us. In 2016 we are striving for a much lower number. We only had a reduction of 6%, which is what is forcing us to continue with this quality control solution and make sure that we’re making our machinists aware.

Of the customer complaints, we had only a certain amount of customer complaints that actually yielded a returned product. We had 57 that yielded a returned product in 2014, and 36 that yielded a returned product in 2015. 37% was not so bad, but we wanted even lower.

Time Savings

On the stage at SyteLineCon, Stacey Chmielewski continued saying, “After we looked at all of that, we thought, ‘What else can we check?’ We wondered what our cost saving were. Since we’ve implemented this in fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015, we’ve seen a 46% decrease in overall scrap costs, which we thought was great, but we’re striving to make it even lower.”

Click here to learn more about Fox Valley Tool & Die’s success with Shop-Trak and Doc-Trak and watch their presentation from SyteLineCon

FVTD also decided to look into time savings. On this, Chmielewski said:

When one of our machine operators is looking for paperwork that’s not included in a job router, he has to go to our central file room location. At both plants, we have one file room that is in the front of the shop. So the machine operator will have to shut down their machine, walk to the file room, find the correct file cabinet for the customer they are working on, find the correct part number, take the file out, thumb through all of the jobs that are in there, and find the quality paperwork. An average trip to the file room looking for documentation can take 15 minutes. So with 100 operators on the floor, we are looking at potential down time of 25 hours a day. That’s between two plants and two shifts.

Using the documentation found in Shop-Trak, it now takes a machinist 2 minutes to locate the information at their machine, with the machine running, resulting in zero downtime. So we have a 100% reduction in time saved. It’s not very often that you can implement something that you can say there is a 100% reduction. So we’re thrilled by that number.

It didn’t stop there. We had a positive ripple effect through our entire company from being able to access item and job specific information on the shop floor using Shop-Trak. More and more employees were coming to us asking us to put in more documentation. They wanted to see certain documents that they didn’t have to go search for that we no longer had to include in the job traveler.

The project managers wanted their marked-up drawings in there. This is huge for us. We have a lot of different special requirements for plating, grinding, and outsourcing. Without those marked-up drawings, we can’t produce a quality product. They also wanted their customer specifications stored in there. So if we have a gentleman out on the shop floor who’s is looking to meet a customer spec of 485, well that’s a 10 page document. Do you really want that in your job tracker? No. You can very easily put it into Doc-Trak, which is then accessible in Shop-Trak, and he can go look and get the pertinent information that he needs.

We went from using Doc-Trak from a semi-often basis to a daily basis. It is now at the heart and core of our business.

Our office staff went to using it to aid their daily functions. We now put in bills of lading, packing slips, our yearly customer surveys, customer supply paperwork, and acknowledgements. They’re all being uploaded to Doc-Trak now, which then can be tied back into customer orders, purchase orders, jobs, and customers.

So when we’re out on the shop floor, we don’t need to run back to our office to look at the documentation that we need. We can very easily go to Shop-Trak, pull up the information that we need for a specific item or job, and it’s right at our fingertips. We’re ecstatic at the progress that we’ve made from our initial implementation of the QCS module, and the Doc-Trak and Shop-Trak elements. The fact that we can show cost and time savings puts us on the right path for our company.

At our quarterly quality meetings, we end every meeting with a slide with our slogan: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. It took awhile for people to grasp that concept, but using Doc-Trak and Shop-Trak, we’ve added even more value to that slogan.


The Lake Companies sponsored SyteLineCon 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin October 3rd-5th and we were overwhelmed by the gratitude and warm support we received from SyteLine users who attended the event and the stories of success we heard, such as Fox Valley Tool & Die’s quality initiative. For their quality solution presented, Fox Valley Tool & Die won the Better Your Best – Most Innovative Award. We would also like to note that Stacey Chmielewski was the winner of the “Click” contest in the SyteLineCon mobile app, making for an all-around successful conference for Fox Valley Tool & Die!

It is our goal at The Lake Companies to help our customers become more successful and provide the tools so they can realize the hidden cash in their organizations. By further utilizing a system that was already in place, Fox Valley Tool & Die was able to eliminate the paper processes that were holding back their business and improve their financial results in the process. FVTD provides a great example of how opening the door to new methods of operations can not only lead to greater efficiency, but also substantial harvesting of hidden cash and greater customer satisfaction. We hope that by sharing this story, your organization may be inspired to find new ways to realize the financial gains waiting in your business. We’re here at The Lake Companies to do whatever it takes to make your company more successful. Contact us today to see how we can help your organization improve.