Clarifying Roles and Metrics Through Visual Management Systems and Continuous Improvement Allows Local Manufacturer to Launch their Most Successful Product to Date

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Mesa Laboratories, Inc.

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Named the “18th fastest growing small company in America,” by Fortune Small Business Magazine, Mesa Laboratories, Inc. is a Denver-based public company that was founded in 1982. Mesa is known for their high-quality monitoring instruments and consumables that cater to the needs of a wide variety of industries, including medical, industrial, pharmaceutical, and food processing. Their offerings include mail-in spore testing kits, DryCal Gas Flow Calibrators, and a line of products used for measuring and recording temperature, humidity, and pressure called the DataTrace Data Loggers. The Mesa Labs product that sees the highest rate of demand, however, is their line of dialysate meters–most notably the recently launched pHoenix XL meter.

Although Mesa Labs had been firmly committed to developing and maintaining a culture of continuous improvement for many years, they were concerned about a potential misalignment of departments that was resulting in missed deadlines and a higher rate of re-works and re-dos. As they approached the upcoming release of the pHoenix XL, Mesa decided to contact Manufacturer’s Edge to discuss possible strategies for unifying the team around clear, common goals that would strengthen the organization while also correcting course by giving them the tools necessary to successfully launch the new meter and, thus, reestablish their reputation for high-quality products and on-time delivery.

Despite the positive atmosphere and commitment to continuous improvement, it became clear to the team at Manufacturer’s Edge that the 29 middle managers overseeing sales, delivery, research, and development were not necessarily clear on their own roles and expectations. This lack of clarity was, unfortunately, leading to a variety of missteps and missed deadlines. Manufacturer’s Edge worked with the administration to custom design a series of activities designed to give context and instruction in order to clarify those roles and develop the proper strategy for success.

Using various simulation and process observation exercises through Kata, Kaizen, Lean Management Systems, and Value Stream Mapping (VSM), Manufacturer’s Edge was able to partner with the team at Mesa Labs to determine what was working and what was not while also helping them identify and adopt the attitudes and behaviors that support lean. From there, Mesa decided to integrate those lessons into daily huddle sessions, particularly in the service/repair and the new product development departments. This gave leadership the tools to identify and clearly communicate the metrics used to define “good performance” and effectively drive lean. As a result, Mesa Labs has dramatically accelerated their process improvement, their overall performance, and they are now enjoying unprecedented growth, which they attribute primarily to the successful launch the pHoenix XL meter.

I’ve partnered with Manufacturer’s Edge at a few different facilities over the years. The expertise and coaching abilities have had a measurable impact in each of my organizations. The work we completed with them this past year at Mesa Labs was a quality investment once again.

Bryan Leo, Vice President of Operations