Husqvarna Turning to Lean Manufacturing

The world’s largest producer of lawn mowers, power tools and trimmer, Husqvarna, knows a thing or two about cutting and pruning. When it came time for a more efficient approach to production at Husqvarna – in this case, trimming production time at its plant in Beatrice, Neb. – the company turned to Lean Manufacturing experts Rucker & Associates for impressive results. So impressive that Husqvarna recently invited Rucker to share its Lean manufacturing efficiency measures at the company’s largest U.S. site in Orangeburg, S.C.

In recent years, growing customer demand necessitated improved efficiencies at Husqvarna’s Beatrice plant for the company to expand production. Implementing Lean Six Sigma strategies helped Husqvarna increase production capacity.

According to David Rucker, the Beatrice production line features multiple equipment models, each requiring unique assembly methods and different amounts of dedicated assembly time from the operators. Using Lean principles to balance production flow, Rucker’s team created a more visual and flexible assembly line, delivering only the next two hours’ worth of raw materials. Rucker is president of Rucker & Associates whose team specializes in finding industrial and operational efficiencies.

“By changing the way operators worked on the line, we were able to make it easier for Husqvarna to accomplish more, increasing the overall efficiency,” Rucker said. “These types of changes make a huge difference in all aspects of the business, from reduced labor costs to on-time delivery.”

The Orangeburg site is next in line. According to Rucker, it provides a greater challenge simply because of the size of the plant, at 1 million square feet.

“We have been thrilled to improve Husqvarna processes in Beatrice,” Rucker said. “We believe we can achieve similar results at the cornerstone of their U.S. presence in Orangeburg.”

Based in Raleigh, N.C., Rucker & Associates is a high-performance consultancy dedicated to helping companies discover dramatic new efficiencies using Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma improvement methodologies. Rucker’s hands-on mentoring process with clients produces dramatic results – training teams to accelerate change and implement continuous improvement. Every Rucker project features an unconditional guarantee.

The Husqvarna Group is the world's largest producer of outdoor power products including chainsaws, trimmers, lawn mowers and garden tractors. It is the European leader in consumer irrigation equipment under the Gardena brand. The Group is also one of the world leaders in cutting equipment and diamond tools for the construction and stone industries. Net sales in 2009 were SEK 34 billion and the average number of employees was 15,000 in 42 countries.

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