Materials Managament Masters the Art of Problem Solving

This article was featured in our June 2016 Catalyst newsletter.

Knowing that customers value Lincoln Industries’ problem solving capabilities, Materials Manager Bryan Fralin has built a team rich in the talents and skills necessary to quickly address customer issues.

"We process a lot of parts and there is always the unexpected," he said. "We have built a team capable of quickly addressing any problem in the supply chain."

Fralin came to Lincoln Industries 11 years ago after leading production control at Irwin Industrial Tool. After joining Lincoln Industries, he was one of the key architects of Lincoln Industries’ Materials and Production Planning groups.

"Prior to the formation of our department in 2008 we had engineers in planning roles," he said. "They were technically strong, but not as strong at planning, scheduling product, interfacing with suppliers and inventory control. Our current department has a depth of experience in planning, logistics and finishing. There aren’t many problems we haven’t seen before and know how to address quickly."

Jerry Lukens is a great example. In his 17 years at Lincoln Industries, Lukens has worked on the polishing line, two plating lines, managed nine commercial plating lines and three nickel chrome lines and led the startup of the company’s ceramic coating department.

Lukens said his experience on several different plating lines helps him as a planner.

"Strong relationships on the plant floor help," he said. "When it comes to problem resolution I understand the manufacturing, plating, coating and painting processes as well as capacity constraints associated with each process."

Amy Helms’ came to Planning from the company’s Finance department.

"Actually, I thought it was a natural transition," she said. "I like numbers and much of this job is understanding and managing numbers. For example, we work to level out peak delivery requirements, helping manage our capacity and still meeting the customers’ needs."

Fralin explains that Materials and Production Planning work upstream managing the supply chain, and within Lincoln Industries, providing Operations a plan they can execute. Since formed, the department has seen the number of parts processed doubled to more than seven million. First pass yield is now 98.8 percent. On-time delivery averages 99 percent.

Inventory control is another key component of their job.

"Sixty percent of our time is spent managing our external supply base. We have stamping sources who ship to external polishing and painting sources and then to us for finishing and manufacturing. Our suppliers are an extension of us. They have extensive experience and do an exceptional job.

"You could say we are a hidden source of our company’s success," said Fralin. "No one comes up to me and says ‘wow, that’s a fantastic production plan.’ But if it isn’t, things don’t get done."

To download the full issue of the June 2016 Catalyst click here.