Hoyt opens world class manufacturing facility
An article from the November 2011 edition of ArrowTrade magazine by John Kasun:
There is more to Hoyt's new home than a huge, attractive facility. John Kasun's in-depth feature shows you how every aspect of Hoyt's new factory was designed to help this leading bow builder make better bows more efficiently for decades to come.
Prior to my retirement from industry, I spent my entire engineering career in all phases of mechanical design, manufacturing and corporate management.
I have been involved in every aspect of production from product design to plant redesign and modernisation including the complete relocation of entire manufacturing facilities. I know first hand the pain, the problems, the unexpected delays and the seemingly never ending challenges that come with the territory.
When I learned that Hoyt was planning to build a new manufacturing facility and move their entire physical operation I was well aware of the enormity of the task. That is why when the opportunity came for ArrowTrade to visit the new facility shortly after its move was completed, I jumped at the chance. Little did I know what a pleasant surprise was in store for me.
Not only is Hoyt's new building drop-dead gorgeous but the layout of the manufacturing process line is state-of-the-art. However, buildings and machines alone do not make a company. It takes a team of skilled and dedicated people. Again, Hoyt is second to none.
I felt it was important to share my experience at Hoyt with our ArrowTrade readers to provide some insight into what goes on behind the scenes of a major archery manufacturer. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's step back and start at the beginning as I spoke with Randy Walk, president of Hoyt and a member of the Bowhunters Hall of Fame. (Randy was inducted under Category B which is designated for Bowhunters who have shown Excellence in the Design and Manufacturing of Archery Equipment.)
Randy's passion for archery and bowhunting began many years ago in the archery shop owned by his father, Jay. As a young boy, Randy grew up with the smell of cedar arrows in his nostrils and a passion for archery in his heart. After graduation from college Randy combined his passion with a career when he went to work at Hoyt. He quickly found himself in charge of the engineering department and worked himself up through the ranks and today is Hoyt's president.
"Easton bought Hoyt in 1983 and in 1988 a portion of the manufacturing facility was relocated into our original building in Salt Lake," Randy said. "In 1991 all the remaining Hoyt manufacturing operations were moved into that facility as well. Since that time Hoyt has grown and enjoyed exploding success even in difficult economic times. As we grew, we continually expanded and re-arranged the facility to accommodate new operations and increased product demand. When expansion in our original facility was no longer possible, it became obvious that in order to increase our manufacturing efficiency we needed to build a new manufacturing facility designed to accommodate not only our present needs but to also allow for future expansion."
"Our original facility had 85,000 square feet as compared to the 150,000 square feet in our new building," Randy explained. "However more space is not the answer to every problem; we knew we needed to design a work flow process that would allow for the maximum manufacturing efficiency. This was an excellent opportunity to do everything right the first time. We shot for "global" buy-in from all of our employees and department heads. We looked at every area to make sure it would be set up to do the best job possible and we tried to give every department as many of their "wants" as we could provide. From the dealer perspective we continually receive requests for plant tours. Our sales and marketing group also wanted to offer our dealer school program again as well as be able to hold special presentations but we were busting at the seams in our original building and we could not do it properly. As we designed our new building we wanted to build-in a way to accommodate plant tours and a dealer school. That became one of our must-have options. "
"We looked at all of our needs and our wants carefully and used this opportunity to design the facility around them," Randy continued. "We needed to purchase the ground, design and construct the building and move the entire operation in a time frame that would allow us to be fully operational for the season. We didn't want our customers or dealers to feel the impact of our move."
Randy personally handled the construction team, hired the architect and main contractor as well as the subcontractors. Steve Olsen, Hoyt's manager of manufacturing engineering was basically locked in a closet for several months as his primary responsibility became the layout of the plant and the manufacturing process. Steve made a 3-D mock up of the new plant complete with each machine and department to scale. This model allowed everyone to see the proposed plant and work flow process. This planning tool eliminated many problems that might have otherwise gone unnoticed until after the fact, greatly improving the final product. Numerous meetings were held with supervisors and employees to ensure everyone had an input into the final design. The goal was to reduce the WIP (Work In Process) time for every operation which would result in cost reduction and improved delivery of the end product.
Construction began in the fall of 2010 but the project found itself a solid 45 days behind schedule in January of 2011 due to unanticipated red tape with building permit issues and construction delays. Randy decided that there was no choice and that the original July 1 completion deadline had to be met. To ensure that happened, he sat down with the construction crew and his department heads to work out a plan so the building could be co-occupied by both the construction crew and Hoyt's employees as they moved in production equipment and began actual production. That meant the co-mingling of 250 employees and 150 construction workers at the same time.
Unless you personally have been through something like this, it might be hard to understand or visualise so let me try to put it in perspective. It is like having your kitchen remodelled on Thanksgiving Day. The plumber wants to shut off the water and the electrician wants to kill the power while your wife tries to bake a pumpkin pie with one hand and stuff the turkey with the other. Your guests arrive early for dinner just as the dog throws up on the rug. It is kind of like that, only worse.
"There was no option," said Randy. "We had to do it. We had a lot of talented people but talent alone doesn't make a team. I can proudly say that at Hoyt we are a team. We anticipated potential problems and developed contingency plans to counter them. A lot of time and energy was spent making the move seamless for our customers. We changed our operational strategy to accommodate the required changes and increased our flexibility. Production at the old factory was ramped up and we built up a two month inventory to meet anticipated customer needs during the move and to be sure we could meet any warranty demands that occurred."
In spite of the fact that in many ways the move was seemingly impossible to do in the time frame required, it did get done. The first production machine was set in place on May 14, 2011 and four days later the first parts rolled off the production line. A ribbon cutting ceremony opening the new plant was held on June 23 while construction continued.
Manufacturing and assembly
Touring Hoyt's new manufacturing facility, I was immediately impressed by several things. Unlike other manufacturing plants I have visited, there was no stacked material or finished parts waiting to be moved to the next work station. Also missing were the large number of forklifts and pallet movers I normally see in abundance at most manufacturing facilities. Although the building was huge, the work process lines were compact. I soon learned that was not by accident but rather by design as explained to me by Steve Memmott, senior production manager for Hoyt. Steve has worked for Hoyt for 26 years and is referred to, politely and with a smile, by his co-workers as Hoyt's most mature employee.
Steve explained to me that Hoyt utilises "Lean" manufacturing principles in its work process. Lean is a process that identifies the waste that makes a production system inefficient and costly. The elimination of this waste logically makes the production system more efficient while reducing cost. These systems and terms are used widely by manufacturers but can be confusing to anyone not involved in the manufacturing process, so let me try to clarify. The Lean process is designed to provide the customer, in this case the dealer, a quality product that meets their specifications in a timely fashion while eliminating any step in the process that does not add value to the product.
As a dealer you might say, "Who cares, that doesn't affect me." Yes it does and greatly. When a manufacturer does everything right, the customer seldom notices, but if they do something wrong, all hell breaks loose. I am sure that in the past you have experienced problems with manufacturers who either could not supply product as promised or you may have received defective products that had to be replaced or that you had to repair in your shop to keep your customer happy. Either of these conditions cost you time and money plus untold frustration and often customer dissatisfaction. In modelling its manufacturing process on the Lean principles, Hoyt reduces manufacturing cost while increasing product quality, all while providing on-time delivery.
To better understand this, listed below are the seven types of waste as determined by the Lean process that make a production system inefficient and costly. Following each one, as a means of comparison, is an example in bold of the same condition that if it existed in an archery shop would decrease efficiency and increase cost.
Over-production: Producing too much, too soon. (In a retail situation this might compare to programmed orders. You want your product flow to match your anticipated sales. Having product delivered too far in advance simply ties up your money unnecessarily.)
Inventory: Extra production required to buffer process variability. (A great example would be buying extra product because you don't know how many you may sell and winding up with out-of-date product in inventory after the season. In this case lack of proper planning puts money at risk.)
Transportation: Movement of materials without adding value. (Let's suppose you had your orders delivered to your home instead of your shop and every time you needed a bow you had to drive home to get it. It costs you time and money for not having the product in the right place. Manufacturers face the same problem and need to minimize internal movement of parts and material which adds cost but does not add value to the end product.)
Waiting: Increasing production cycle time without adding value. (Let's assume that you only have one fletching jig. When fletching arrows you get nothing done while waiting for the glue to dry so you can install a new fletch. You are increasing production time but not adding anything of value to the arrow. However multiple jigs allow you to work continuously. But you only need enough jigs to allow the first fletch to dry. Having additional jigs beyond that point again is a waste of money.)
Movement: Movement of operators without adding value. (Let's assume you have several employees working in your shop. Keeping them on a constant schedule is best as they can plan their personal time and you always know who is working when. Constantly changing the working schedules simply confuses every-one and creates dissatisfaction.)
Defects: Product that does not conform to customer specifications. (Setting up a bow improperly or doing a sloppy fletching job means you will have to re-do the job with no additional compensation. Errors cost money, time and damage customer confidence and satisfaction.)
Over-processing: Processing a material more than is necessary to meet customer specifications. (When you use your cut-off saw to cut arrows to length they are probably within .010 of an inch difference depending upon the wobble in the saw blade and how careful you were when making the cut. You could spend extra time sanding each arrow until they were exactly the same length but it would not make the arrow shoot any better and the customer would not know the difference. Making a part or product to tighter tolerances than required adds cost but no value.)
I think you can see from these examples how Hoyt's effort to increase efficiency while reducing cost directly impacts you as a dealer. Hoyt's approach to utilising an up-to-date and modern manufacturing process makes it one of the leaders in the archery industry. (Google "Lean" for more information on this interesting manufacturing process. The same principles also apply to a retail operation such as an archery shop, as our examples indicate.)
"Instead of bigger and more at Hoyt, we are trying to build in smaller batch sites," Steve said. "We want to maximise the work performed while reducing product flow. This meant laying out our manufacturing process to reduce the transportation of parts. By doing this, we see a direct gain in efficiency which in turn is reflected in reduced cost."
"We track every machining, finishing and assembly process involved in making a bow," Steve continued. "I know exactly how long it takes to produce any single component or to assemble any model bow. The time for each operation is tracked and studied to reduce the time involved while improving the quality of the end product through a continuous quality improvement process. I get continuous feedback of product flow throughout the plant via my computer system and if we do not hit our production target for three days, I identify problem areas and work to resolve the issues. It may mean re-evaluating the work process itself or it could mean a revision of the work standard."
"By carefully laying out the new plant's production flow and compacting it as much as possible, we are able to minimise transportation of materials and the walking required by employees to do their job," explained Steve. "Even though we had more space available, we used it differently. This lead to a re-balance of our work force and with less people needed for material transportation, we had more people available for production jobs, allowing us to increase production with the same number of people and associated labour cost."
Hoyt actively seeks employee input into its work flow process as the managers feel the employee knows the job best and often has good ideas on how to do the job better. Work station specifications were developed for each work station which shows the employee exactly what to do and how to do it as well as the time allotted to perform the task. These specifications are physically displayed at each work station and act as a reference for the employee who normally does the job. In addition they also act as a complete guide for an employee who has to step in to perform the task due to schedule or production changes. A list of employees trained in the work to be performed at each station is also posted at each location. This allows a supervisor to quickly check employee qualifications in the event revisions to the work assignments are needed to satisfy a production change.
As I observed different work stations during my tour, I saw numerous jigs and fixtures being used by employees to complete their task accurately and quickly. Most of these fixtures are designed by an industrial engineer but often the employees came up with their own simple solutions. While in the string and cable department, Steve told me an amusing story. A supervisor and an engineer were trying to come up with a special clip to speed up the string making process. After exploring several unsuccessful ideas, the young lady who was running the string making machine stepped forward, removed a clip from her hair and said, "You are making this too complicated, this hair clip should work just fine." "She clipped it to the string and the problem was solved," laughed Steve. "Sometimes we are too smart for our own good."
Quality is a top priority at Hoyt and every employee inspects their work before they move the part or assembly to the next work station. While every employee at Hoyt is very serious about and responsible for quality, Micah Clyde and Matt Sanford lead the effort in a specific quality and continuous improvement role. In a nutshell, Micah's and Matt's job is to continually make good things better. They work with employees, supervisors and department heads to follow up on and implement any changes to the work process that will improve quality or reduce cost.
As I toured the final assembly department where bows are assembled, I expected to see large racks of completed bows at the end of the line. All I found however was a skid full of sealed and addressed bow boxes. "I hate to put things away," Steve Memmott said. "If I put them away or in the store house, I have to go get them later. That is all wasted motion, wasted time and wasted money. I like our components to move smoothly from work station to work station as needed. I don't need 150 bows ahead of my bow assemblers, I only need one. When he completes one bow, I need the next one in the queue. When a bow is completed, the last thing the assembler does is to put it directly into a box with all the required information and a new hat. He prints a shipping label, affixes it to the box and places it on a skid that gets loaded into an awaiting UPS truck. This is a perfect example of reducing internal handling time which results in quicker customer service. From the time we receive an order until we ship the bow is normally three days."
Engineering, research and development
"I feel that Hoyt's strength is its engineering foundation," said Gideon Jolley, product research and development manager. "Jim Easton was an engineer and our President Randy Walk is an engineer. We interface with Randy on a daily basis and it is great to work with someone that knows all aspects of the business from the conception of an idea to the finished product."
"Engineering and Research and Development work hand in hand," said Gideon. "R&D is charged with coming up with new ideas and it is engineering's responsibility to get that idea to market. However we are a company filled with archers and bowhunters, so our ideas can potentially come from anyone. We have short term projects and long term projects as well as pages of ideas which we are considering. Approximately 50 per cent of our new ideas go to market within one year while with others, it takes more time due to our very stringent testing parameters. It is these testing requirements that result in our minimal warranty claims. We do our testing in-house and prove an idea will work before a product is released to our customers. All of our designs are based on function first. It needs to work and bring a benefit to the customer before we consider it. For example our new carbon riser looks fancy but its design was driven purely by function and improved performance. The carbon riser is a perfect example of a long term development project. We had the basic idea for 15 years but the materials and manufacturing process were not yet developed to support it. When they became available, it still took three years of design and testing until we were satisfied with the final design."
"R&D, engineering, production and marketing work together to bring the final version of any idea to market." Gideon explained. "Marketing does surveys to ensure the marketability while engineering and production make sure we can manufacture the item at the projected price. Once we have the function and manufacturing cost nailed down, we add the cosmetics as directed by marketing. It is a total team effort from start to finish."
"Our entire engineering staff works closely with the shop," Gideon continued. "Each engineer is scheduled to go into the shop on a regular basis to review work processes and look for problems. That also gives us the opportunity to build relationships with the production employees. This in turn improves the feedback we receive on ways to improve the work process and quality. The production staff needs to know what the engineer expects from his design while engineering needs input from production on how to make the part easier to produce. The best way to accomplish these goals is for engineering and production to work side by side. Again like everything else here at Hoyt, it is a team effort."
"Because Hoyt is known as an innovative company that introduces a lot of products to the marketplace each year, Randy Walk, our president, felt it was important that we did not disturb our design cycle so our engineers were the last to move into our new building," Gideon said. "Hoyt has a reputation of changing its product line each year and I know some people have questioned that logic. It is not that the equipment we are replacing is bad, it is just that as a result of our continual upgrading, re-engineering and tweaking, our new equipment is simply better. One thing unique about the majority of people who work here at Hoyt is that we are all customers of our own products. Everyone brings his personal passion for archery and bowhunting to the job every day. In a way, we are always working regardless if we are at the office, shooting in our backyard or in the field on a hunt. We are continually thinking about ways to improve the equipment we produce."
Being a world leader in the design and manufacture of quality archery equipment is not enough for Hoyt, it insists on being first in customer service as well. "Our goal is to build relationships with our customers, the dealers and their customers, the end user," said Tom Driffill, customer service manager for Hoyt. "We have evolved from being order takers to having a personal relationship with our customers. Our sales team consists of 17 external sales representatives and a staff of six internal customer service representatives. Each internal staff member is assigned specific regions of the country but depending upon the workload, they take calls from all over the world. Because we never know what will happen when the phone rings, we need people who can take it on the chin when dealing with an unhappy customer and answer the next call with a smile. Our number one goal is to support our dealers and we hit it from all sides by supporting the dealer, the end user as well as the manufacturer's representative. Although we are willing to help our end user customers, we always refer them back to their dealer for service and support. It is important to everyone involved that we help build a solid relationship between the end user and a qualified Hoyt dealer."
Approximately one third of the calls received by the customer service department come from consumers with the balance coming from dealers. While the customer service department allows each representative to operate privately, they also have easy access to fellow team members if collaboration is required to resolve any issue. In addition, they receive 100 plus emails daily. Average hold time for all calls is normally under one minute. A large monitor located at the front of the room allows everyone within the department to see at a glance how many calls have been received this day, the status of all calls and how many are on hold as well as details of items ordered.
"Each morning we have a 15 minute stand-up War Room Meeting," explained Tom. "All of our key people are in attendance including production, purchasing, sales and marketing and customer service. Our focus is on the customer as we discuss specific cases and individual archery shops as well as production concerns. It is our way to make sure we can head off production problems as well as push specific orders out the door to better service a dealer. With everyone working together at one time, we keep our communications tight and our customer service on track."
Sales and marketing
During my visit to Hoyt, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mike Luper, the director of sales and marketing. "The move to our new facility has been very exciting," Mike said. "It is not just that everything is new, but it is the fact that we had the opportunity to build a state-of-the-art facility to do one thing and that is to build the finest and most advanced archery equipment in the world. Every time I walk through the shop and see a hunting bow being assembled or see a finish coat being applied to a set of recurve target limbs, I always wonder if that hunting bow will harvest the next world record animal or if those limbs will win an Olympic Gold. It is an exciting time for archery and I feel fortunate to be a part of it."
"One of our objectives when designing our new plant was to be able to share it with our customers," Mike continued. "We designed in, an elevated walkway in our production area that allows us to take visitors on a plant tour where they get a birds-eye view of the operation. The view for the visitor is unobstructed, so they can see clearly what is going on while it keeps them out of the actual production area for safety reasons. Actually they get to see more from the elevated walkway than they would if they were at floor level, where they would have to be looking "through" people to see what is going on."
"We have also designed into the building a special theatre style room for sales presentations and dealer schools," Mike said excitedly. "We call it the "Lodge" and it features elevated theatre style seating and all the latest audio/video equipment. We intend to use it for presentations to our sales representatives as well as for dealer schools which we plan to start in 2012. Adjacent to the presentation room is an area where we can take breaks or have lunch served. We top all of that off with an indoor range where dealers and sales representatives will be able to try the latest equipment. The only thing I am more excited about than our move into the new plant is our new 2012 equipment line-up."
As my visit to Hoyt drew to a close, I was thinking about how to summarise what I had seen when I stepped into Randy Walk's office to thank him for the opportunity to visit Hoyt's new home. After an exchange of pleasantries, Randy helped sum up my visit for me.
"Our goal at Hoyt is to be the best archery company in the world and we can only do that with innovation and quality," Randy stressed. "To accomplish that goal, it is important for full disclosure and effective communications. We are a team at Hoyt and when a team pulls on a rope they all have to pull in the same direction to get the most from their efforts. Clear and consistent communications is the key to keeping that focus. While we are the manufacturer of high performance archery equipment we must always remember that first we must be a high performance manufacturing company. High performance drives high quality and if you mix that in with a passion for archery, you have a winning combination. Our employees are so dedicated to doing a good job and so passionate about archery, we have to kick some of them out of the building to get them to go home at the end of the day. With a team like that, we can't lose. " /p>
Editor's Note: In addition to his editorial planning and writing duties with ArrowTrade John Kasun is an outdoor seminar speaker and a business consultant with experience in corporations large and small. He can be reached at 126 Acorn Lane Duncansville Pennsylvania 16635 USA by phone at +0011 1 814 695 5784 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.