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The Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. subsidiary of Thor Industries Inc. has increased production at its County Road 38 plant in Goshen, Ind., by 30% and an increase of an additional 20% will occur by the end of this month, according to Rich Florea, Dutchmen’s president.
The County Road 38 plant is Dutchmen’s largest and the Dutchmen and Four Winds brands of towable RVs are produced at the facility.
Output at the County Road 38 facility is increasing due to the implementation of “the latest lean manufacturing concepts with the goal of increasing productivity without adding additional production space,” Florea said.
“County Road 38 maintained two separate production lines in the same facility. Due to the demand for our products from our dealers it was imperative that we increased production on those lines,” said Jeff Newport, vice president of operations. “Employing lean manufacturing strategies, we converted the two-line facility to a more efficient, single production line. As a result we can manufacture both products on the same line, at the same time, and ship more product per day with the same amount of staff as the old two line system.
“The key to lean manufacturing is access to raw materials and increased productivity,” Newport continued. “By moving to a single line, we increased the production space for each line position which allowed us to move the raw material into the work space for each operation. It reduces the amount of steps for each employee to gather their materials and install them on the unit.
“Another added benefit of the large work space is that each employee has more room to perform their job responsibilities without interfering with someone else’s function. The net result is fewer defects and improved safety,” he added.
The initial plant redesign took place in a four-day period without any delays in production, Florea said. “Our production team members where very involved in the redesign and most of the new work stations were designed by the employees using the production cell.
“Our ability to accomplish so much in such a short period of time is truly a testament to our manufacturing workforce and to our maintenance crew,” Newport said.
In addition to the Dutchmen and Four Winds brands, Dutchmen also builds the Aero Coach and Skamper brands of towables. Additionally, the Thor subsidiary will introduce a new brand, the Colorado, next month.
Dutchmen’s sister company, Four Winds International Corp. in nearby Elkhart, Ind., builds the Dutchmen and Four Winds brands of motorhomes.