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  - May 19, 2008 -  

Supply Chain News: Household Goods Maker Rev-a-Shelf Gets Lean in Manufacturing and Distribution, Drives Big Returns in Short Time


Better Information, Visibility, are Catalysts for Lean Transformation; E-Kanban Drives Flow



SCDigest Editorial Staff

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The Lean transformation of consumer goods manufacturers and distributor Rev-a-Shelf offers two interesting themes.

First, it superbly demonstrates the potential of Lean to dramatically impact operational performance and financial metrics.

Second, while most companies start their Lean journey by using the tools of Lean to reinvent processes and then build the technology enablement they need to support those processes, Rev-a-Shelf used an initiative to automate its data collection processes and improve information flow on the shop and distribution center floor as the foundation to then identify opportunities for Lean improvements.

“We wanted to make a fundamental change in the way we did business” said Mike Rogers, IT Manager for Rev-a-Shelf and one of the key team members behind the Lean transformation. You can hear the entire case study on SCDigest’s videocast on Driving Lean Supply Chains through Improved Information Flow and Visibility, featuring the Rev-a-Shelf case study, now available on-demand for immediate viewing (View Broadcast Here).

Headquartered in Louisville, KY, Rev-a-Shelf is a $70 million manufacturer and distributor of polymer, wire, wood, and stainless steel home organization and storage components. Its products often go inside household cabinetry.

The company’s initial pain point stemmed from manual, paper-based data collection processes, and a lack of shop and DC-floor support for actionable, real-time information. That led to a variety of operational issues, including carrying too much inventory, losing inventory, and challenges with customer service. The situation was exacerbated by a move a few years ago to global sourcing that added additional supply chain pressures.

Rev-a-shelf first deployed a solution from Epicor Software that automated shop floor data collection and provided real-time inventory management and other execution capabilities. The new system solved some immediate problems for Rev-a-Shelf, but also led the company to see how this improved information flow could further be leveraged – and the answer was Lean.

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Over the next two years, Rev-a-Shelf used the tools of lean combined with the new real-time information on the shop floor and opportunities for “electronic Kanban” to dramatically improve manufacturing and logistics performance.

“The main issue we had initially was the lack of real-time, instantaneous data across our operations,” Rogers said. “With that foundation, we found lots of other opportunities in our process to adapt Lean techniques.”

Together, the data collection/execution system and Lean approach has made dramatic improvements in Rev-a-Shelf’s operations and bottom line (see Case Study at a Glance).

“Structurally, we attacked one area at a time,” using Lean, Rogers said. “We did receiving, then shipping, then light manufacturing, and then we even came up into office processes. We were looking for the different ways that having the real-time data would allow us to change processes and make better decisions.”


Case Study at a Glance

Company: Rev-a-Shelf, maker of household container/storage products
Business Problem:
Poor inventory management Implementation of a shop and DC floor data collection and execution/inventory management system to improve accuracy and visibility
Customer service issues Adoption of Lean techniques
Customer chargebacks E-Kanban
Results: Resources:
Inventory accuracy greater than 99%
Dramatic reduction in lost inventory
Increase in inventory turns from 2 to 8  
Dramatic throughput increase with same facilities  


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