Harmac Medical Products, Inc.

Lean Implementation


  • 20% increase in sales
  • 30% increase in productivity
  • 50% reduction in lead time
  • >90% on-time delivery
  • Product mix shift to higher margin services
  • Doubled inventory turns
  • Elimination of offsite warehouse and leased delivery truck


Harmac Medical Products, Inc., founded in 1981 in Buffalo, New York, is a full-service manufacturer that designs, engineers, and produces custom single-use medical devices worldwide. Their goal is to build partnerships for the long term, one successful solution at a time. Harmac Medical Products serves a global marketplace with manufacturing locations in the U.S.A., Ireland and Mexico. Products are sold to high-profile, OEM accounts in the medical products, pharmaceutical and other bioscience industries. The company fills a full-service niche within these markets, i.e. custom product manufacturing with extensive engineering support.

Through RF welding, ultra-sonic welding and class 100,000 clean rooms, the organization has the ability to add significant value in manufacturing. Harmac's customers realize significant cost savings thanks to the company's ability to internally design and build manufacturing automation. Harmac Medical Products has demonstrated that it can effectively service and maintain sound long-term relationships with major, high-profile customers. The company has also achieved ISO 9000/2000 and ISO 13485 compliance, the medical products quality standard, and is compliant with current FDA and cGMP requirements, enhancing their ability to compete in North America, Europe and Asia.


In 2001, when the company lost a key customer to a low-cost offshore manufacturer, company management recognized that driving world-class competitiveness was essential for future success. Current manufacturing operations utilized batch processing and cellular operations, but had not been optimized using single-piece flow designs. Lead times of 8-12 weeks, inventory turns of 6 times per year and less than 100% on-time deliveries were the result. Manage-ment then made a commitment to embrace world-class manufacturing techniques, knowing that the company could achieve competitive advantage, both domestical


The first step in the two- year project was to continue expansion of the cellular-based manufacturing techniques and ensure cross functional teams in all levels of the organization - including management, supervision, engineering, materials, and assembly. Each of these teams was introduced to the principles of lean manufacturing through a full-day workshop which combined classroom lecture with a live simulation. Not only did this session provide basic knowledge in lean manufacturing methodology, but the participants were also able to relate to how these concepts could be applied in their specific work areas.

The next step was to complete a high-level value stream map of the entire organization. This exercise revealed significant opportunities for improved information flow among the customer service, purchasing and planning departments. Consequently, these three departments were combined into a single cross-function discipline that was significantly more agile and reduced upfront information flow from days to minutes. Subsequently, the value stream mapping exercise (for both current and desired future states) was expanded to all product lines throughout the company. This enabled the combined teams of Harmac Medical Products and Insyte Consulting to formulate lean manufacturing implementation plans for each major product line.

The manufacturing areas were realigned into single-piece flow layouts optimizing labor efficiency, minimizing production distance and decreasing work-in-process. Operators were more focused on individual product lines, increasing their knowledge of the unique elements of their specific product. Improved space utilization provided additional plant capacity readying Harmac for new business.

Elements of work place organization (5S plus 1 to include safety) were introduced within these lines by the dedicated work teams. This helped ensure that all required components, supplies and tools were in the cell, but unnecessary materials were stored elsewhere. This further contributed to the productivity of the cell.

Upon completion of the single-piece flow lines, the next step was to introduce pull systems (Kan Ban) on an experimental basis, focusing on resin stock (raw material). By working effectively with the vendor, resin inventories were reduced by 80% with no loss of productivity or material availability. This served as the basis for expanding this concept throughout the operation. Kan Ban is now effectively used in fabricated molded components as well as all A, B and some C inventory classifications.

With such dramatic progress, Harmac Medical Products has committed to perpetually reinventing itself. World-class manufacturing and the associated techniques are now part of the fabric at Harmac. To drive efficiencies to a higher level the process is currently being repeated with critical product lines.

Since the implementation of lean manufacturing concepts, Harmac Medical Products has strengthened its position in the market by increasing business with current customers and winning new business from competitors. Focusing on more sophisticated products that help drive improved profit margins, sales have increased by 20%. Harmac Medical Products now successfully pursues this type of business and can do so because of a 30% increase in productivity, 50% reduction in lead times and on-time deliveries over 90%. Increased productivity and effective use of Kan Ban have resulted in inventory turns doubling to 12 times annually. Harmac Medical Products now anticipates a further increase to 14-16 times annually. Thanks to increased efficiency in the supply chain, and higher inventory turns, Harmac Medical Products now needs less storage space and has been able to close an offsite warehouse and eliminate the need for a leased delivery truck.

From an external perspective, Harmac Medical Products has had several opportunities to assist its customers in the implementation of lean techniques. In one case, a major customer began its own lean initiative after benchmarking the operations at Harmac.

"Insyte Consulting played a valuable role in our lean manufacturing initiative. Working together, we were able to make positive improvements, enabling us to compete on a global basis, even against low cost manufacturers from Mexico and China." - John F. Somers, President