The Voyage

THE VOYAGE

Romo Durable Graphics works with a leading provider of global water, fluid, thermal management, and equipment protection products, services, and solutions. The company’s portfolio contains products for filtering drinking water, pool care, desalination, waste water treatment, and many others.

Because the company offers so many products under multiple brand names, they have a complex product line that requires them to stock hundreds of decals. That’s a lot of decals. In order to manage them all, they used a huge floor-to-ceiling rotational bin system nicknamed “the big blue monster.” Because it was so large, it could only be positioned in a remote corner of their plant.

On paper, the “big blue monster” looked like a good tool for managing their large and complex decal inventory. But in reality, it created three serious challenges:

  • Because of its position in the corner of the plant, the decal inventory was too far away from each product assembly line, reducing productivity.
  • It required a separate full-time operator who fulfilled orders for the various product lines, adding an extra layer of labor cost.
  • It made keeping track of decal inventory levels nearly impossible, which caused employees to start stockpiling labels to ensure that they could make their goals. Some of them even kept labels in their cars. Not ideal, to say the least.

With more than 300 individual decal SKU’s to manage, the “big blue monster” was feeding on the company’s bottom line, fueling inventory imbalances and a proliferation of purchase orders.

The Discovery

THE DISCOVERY

Romo began to study the "big blue monster" to understand its weaknesses. Chief among them, it made it impossible to know when you were out of inventory, which led to a constant string of "fire drills" to get more decals. It was clear to Romo that there had to be a better way to manage their customer's decal inventory. 

Romo’s goal as a partner is to think about the long game, and to take the time to understand their customers’ businesses inside and out. The idea is to walk together, learning and discovering how to make things better along the way.

After working in partnership with this particular company for over 20 years, Romo had an intimate understanding of how they ran their production lines, with each line having its own set of labels. So to make their inventory more productive, Romo quickly focused on three key things that could be improved:

  • Move the appropriate decal sets to the front of each production line.

  • Provide a means for holding a predetermined amount of back-stock for each decal SKU, and make the inventory easily visible.

  • Establish a process for regularly evaluating and replenishing the inventory based on pre-determined stock level targets.

Using those insights, Romo proposed placing carts at the front of each production line. Each cart would contain 60 clearly marked bins, with a backup bin hung on the other side. The decal inventory could then be distributed to the appropriate assembly lines, and it would be easy to see if there were any SKU’s that needed to be replenished.

The changes would accomplish two things. First, they would increase productivity by making it much quicker to access the appropriate decals. Second, they would reduce inventory costs and boost inventory turns by making the inventory more visible, enabling Romo to replenish the inventory within two days. On-hand inventory could be reduced, and out-of-stock situations would be eliminated.

The Rewards

THE REWARD

Since implementing the suggested changes, the company has seen notable improvement in their inventory turns. The cart system eliminated the need for the “big blue monster” altogether, and made each production line more productive. The vendor-managed inventory program that Romo executes for them eliminates a substantial amount of time and effort on their part. Highlights include:

  • Romo checks all decal inventory levels regularly
  • Romo handles replenishment automatically without the need for purchase orders
  • There's no downtime due to out-of-stock inventory
The vendor managed system was seamless and has allowed us to focus on meeting goals and increasing productivity. As a partner in process improvement, we continually work with Romo to remain lean.
— Process Engineer

The company’s employees don’t have to count decals anymore. They don’t have to hoard boxes of decals in their cars to make sure they can hit their goals. They just don’t run out of labels anymore. Romo Durable Graphics makes sure they have what they need to keep their production lines running efficiently.

That’s the power of discovery leading to outcomes that matter. What can we discover together?