Kee Safety, Inc.

Reducing Time-To-Market for New Products

> RESULTS

  • Over 50% reduction in time to market for new products
  • Quadrupling in the number of new products introduced
  • 20% plus increase in revenues is anticipated
  • A robust, sustainable process that can handle an even greater number of new products
  • A trained Team that can adapt the processes to pursue even more challenging new products and market opportunities

> COMPANY

Kee Safety, Inc. is a leading global supplier of components and custom systems for railings, barriers, roof edge protection and fall prevention. Their products must meet strict requirements from OSHA and other regulatory agencies. The North American headquarters, located in Buffalo, NY, employs approximately 30 people and operates as an independent subsidiary of a global company based in the United Kingdom (UK). Kee Safety's products are sold via specialized industrial product distributors, dealers and manufacturers' reps.

> SITUATION

Historically, new products for the U.S. market were developed and manufactured in the UK and introduced to North America at a modest pace of about one product per year. The U.S. product introduction process involved testing to ensure compliance with U.S. safety and building code requirements. In some cases designs had to be modified and U.S. suppliers qualified for manufacture in the U.S., subsequently lengthening time-to-market. Fortunately the limited number of new products enabled Kee Safety's staff to handle the new product process on an as-needed basis, among their other responsibilities.

In late 2008, the UK Corporate Headquarters evolved its strategy to place greater emphasis on growth via new products, and to permit Kee Safety North America to develop new products to meet U.S. market needs and hopefully be sold worldwide. The initial Kee Safety North America goal for 2009 was to introduce four new product line extension products and a major new product line. Mike Mumau, President, quickly recognized that their current process of handling new products was not scalable to meet the challenge of introducing multiple new products in 40% to 50% less time. Mike concluded that he would need a more robust product development process, and that his New Product Development Team (Team) could benefit from training and guidance in managing a new process for rapid product development and introduction. He contacted Insyte Consulting for assistance as a result of a referral from another WNY company.

> SOLUTION

Implementing a Simple but Disciplined Project Management Process Kee Safety engaged a consultant from Insyte Consulting who not only had substantial experience in new product development, but was also familiar with the company's markets and had access to training tools from the MEP system (Manufacturing Extension Partnership).

Over a series of six sessions the Team covered: Concepts for Lean Product Development Mapping of the current product development process Development of a desired future state development process Tools and techniques for efficient and effective Project Management Product Management methods for reducing product cost and prioritizing activities Best Practices, and "Dos and Don'ts" The Team was trained and guided via a series of successive sessions covering product management techniques so, that over the course of the project, they were actively managing all their new products to meet their 2009 goals. Tools included customized Action Item Lists to drive completion of tasks to schedules, Gantt Charts to plan the entire new product process from Idea to Marketing Rollout, and Milestone Charts to oversee progress of multiple new products. To accelerate the Team's successful use of the New Product Process, a Projects Manager was designated and coached in leading the Team and process.

Kee Safety's Weightanka product enables quick setup, portable fall-prevention.

Shortly after completion of the consulting project, the Team was fully engaged in regular management of multiple new products using Action Lists, Gantt Charts and a Milestone Chart. In addition, the Team has set aside a regular scheduled day and time to meet each week and manage progress against goals.

Shortly after completion of the consulting project, the Team was fully engaged in regular management of multiple new products using Action Lists, Gantt Charts and a Milestone Chart. In addition, the Team has set aside a regular scheduled day and time to meet each week and manage progress against goals.

According to Annette Sweet, Project Manager, "It's reallyimpressive how the disciplined use of a few simple tools gives us complete control over managing the development, operations ramp-up and marketing rollout of multiple products."


"The project met our objective of having a new product process in place and operating successfully within 90 days. I am especially pleased at how the materials were adapted to meet our particular needs." - Mike Mumau, President