ETM Manufacturing Tests Lean Manufacturing Strategy & Practice with the Extended Supply Chain


Customer and Supplier Join Innovative Project to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Lean Principles in Speeding Time-to-Market and Reducing Cost


LITTLETON, Mass. (Dec. 11, 2012) — ETM Manufacturing, a fast-growing sheet metal manufacturer, will join with customer, HTP, Inc. and supplier, Ryerson, to test the impact of lean manufacturing strategies and practices on the extended supply chain.  The company, which has used lean manufacturing principles to streamline its own operations and improve quality and delivery since 2009, initiated the Extended Value Stream Compression project to demonstrate the significant impact that  lean manufacturing principles can have on all partners in the supply chain, when working in concert.

Lean manufacturing models – employed by many of the world’s largest and most well known manufacturers, including Toyota and John Deere – place a great deal of focus on improving the extended supply chain.  Making efficiency improvements in material and information flows “outside the four walls” offers many advantages in lowering costs and creating environments where innovation accelerates.  Historically, employing these strategies in partnership with customers and suppliers has proven to be more challenging as organizations are stretched thin and traditional trust mechanisms within supply chains are more difficult to sustain.

“We’ve seen – as so many others have – the value that lean manufacturing principles can deliver within our own operation,” said Rob Olney, president of ETM Manufacturing and a lean manufacturing advocate. “Now, with this project, we’re aiming to demonstrate that there’s a lot more opportunity for improvement, and ultimately value for our customers, that can be gained if all stakeholders in the process work in a lean model.”

Together, ETM, HTP and Ryerson, have established an ambitious set of objectives for the program, including a 50 percent reduction in time-to-market and a 20 percent reduction in cost. Working with lean manufacturing expert, Jim Womack, the partners will identify opportunities for improving material and information flows across the supply chain this month. Together, they will commit to process improvements and milestones for measuring improvements in support of an expected product launch in the spring of 2013.

“Our customers expect us to deliver high-quality products on time, and at the price agreed to every time; they aren’t interested in our supply chain issues,” said David Martin, president of Massachusetts-based HTP, a leader in advanced heating and water heating systems. “Participating in this project with our suppliers to find ways to resolve common problems by accelerating the product improvement process gives us a significant advantage in meeting our customers’ expectations – a surefire way to success.”

Transparency across organizations, expectations for quality, delivery and responsiveness and unplanned for changes in material availability or cost are just a few of the issues that will be addressed in the project. Building a communications process that facilitates both timely information-sharing and shared problem solving is a critical step in ensuring that the three team members can achieve the agreed upon milestones at each stage, and ultimately meet the overall goals of speed to market and cost reduction.

“As a supplier, responsiveness to customer needs is a core part of our job, if we expect to keep that customer,” said Matt Propis, general manager of Massachusetts-based Ryerson, a global materials service center.  “Knowing how the customer works, how we can best work together based on their processes, and having a channel for communication that facilitates that effort goes a long way; we’re looking forward to testing that concept in this project, and then repeating it with other customers.”


Training a Critical Component of the Project

A large part of lean manufacturing strategy centers on training: training management in how to build a culture centered on efficiency and continuous improvement, as well as training teams throughout the operation on how to identify areas for improvement, communicate with others in the extended value chain, problem solve and much, much more.

For this project, the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund will provide a $32,000 grant for training ETM’s customer-focused team to work with customers and suppliers to identify, implement and measure the effects of innovations in saving time and money.  The award is the second that ETM has received for lean manufacturing training; the first grant funded training for internal improvements in the operation using lean manufacturing principles.


About ETM Manufacturing

For more than 40 years, ETM Manufacturing has been providing custom, precision sheet metal and machined components to some of the best New England-based original equipment manufacturers in computing, energy, telecommunications, medical/lab, printing and other industrial equipment.  ETM offers creative solutions to customer’s complex supply chain issues, helping them save money and reducing time to market. For more information, please visit or call (978) 486-9050.


About HTP

Founded in 1974, HTP is a designer and manufacturer of advanced heating and hot water systems. Product categories include: modulating condensing commercial and residential high-efficiency boilers, indirect water heaters, high-efficiency gas-fired water heaters, solar hot water systems, and electric water heaters. For more information, visit, call (800) 323-9651 or download the HTP mobile app.


About Ryerson

Ryerson, founded in 1842, is a global leader in the processing and distribution of metal products.  Headquartered in Chicago, Ryerson is owned by holding company Platinum Equity. For more information, visit Ryerson at or call (800) 842-1261.