Lean Champions: HUI’s Cell 91 is Getting it Done

Mary Kahler 1 Comment

How one team at HUI is making a difference, one lean improvement at a time.

It’s the little things that matter when it comes to continuous improvement. That’s something that the folks in HUI’s Cell 91 have embraced to benefit the entire company. Mighty cell 91 has won the HUI Lean Trophy three times in 2021 by identifying issues, thinking creatively, and executing small changes that make a big difference.


Pictured above is HUI's Fabrication Cell 91 holding the coveted Lean Belt Trophy. From left to right: Adam Niquette, Trevor Kollath, Lean Point James Clare, Jesse Young, Jill Brotz, and Wayne Pritzl.

Each operational cell in our shop is charged with seeking opportunities to make their work better. We use a simple whiteboard system to identify initiatives in each cell: anyone on the team can add an idea to reduce waste and increase efficiency. From there, our designated cell “Lean Points” are charged with exploring the problem, communicating with the team, and identifying resources to make the change happen. Each month, our lean committee tallies the impact of each team’s initiatives and awards the HUI “Lean Belt Trophy” to the winner. More often than not this year, that trophy has been proudly displayed in Cell 91.

When it comes to lean, it’s the little things.

If you see Cell 91’s board, you’ll notice a couple of things: it’s chock full of incremental changes the team has identified, and those changes aren’t necessarily huge. By taking initiative and making keen observations, they’ve managed to optimize their space for better flow and reduce waste in their cell.

Cell 91 Lean Point James Clare says, “We have a lot of good people who have great ideas. While we do have big ideas, it’s the little ones that keep us going.”

One of Cell 91’s self-initiated tasks was to re-arrange their weld stations to optimize their space for better workflow on their most common jobs – a bigger change that’s resulted in big payoffs in reducing time waste and maximizing flow.

The team has had success with many smaller projects as well. They designed and implemented a new system for organizing and labeling their weld tools, moving the most used tools to be more accessible. The team says that this simple change has not only reduced time in locating tools, but also eliminated frustrations in finding tools at the end of the day. Another initiative that James is especially proud of was redesigning and creating a new caliper shelf. The team provided input about what was needed and James welded the shelf himself.

Benefits beyond productivity.

The team is quick to point out that there are many benefits of their focus on lean that go above and beyond the cost savings to the organization. Identifying and bringing about continuous improvement in their cell has reduced irritating inefficiencies and ultimately fostered better communication among the team.

As the team has seen success with smaller lean initiatives, their confidence has grown. James notes that the momentum they’ve built has “incentivized the team to put their ideas out there because they are actually getting accomplished.” The entire cell gained trust in their teammates to take their ideas seriously and to trust the process.

What’s next for Cell 91? Only time will tell! The team is motivated to defend their title and continue to optimize their productivity. Congrats to all of Cell 91 – and keep up the great work!

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