Inside the Valpak Manufacturing Centre

valpak_logoLast week I was lucky enough to be part of a tour through the Valpak Manufacturing Centre in St. Petersburg, Florida. Completely automated and lean, it is an excellent example of lean processes and continuous learning.

I could not take pictures in the facility, but the following official video gives an good overview of Valpak and the manufacturing centre.

Some of the key items:

  • The factory is built 18 feet above sea level and built to withstand category 4 hurricanes
  • They reframed the problem – instead of stuffing coupons into an envelope they build the envelope around the coupons
  • They etch their own printing plates and recycle the aluminium afterwards
  • Failover is built into the system – such as two print heads per press so that they can change the plates without stopping the printing
  • Loose paper is sucked off the factory floor by vaccuums
  • The coupons are wound onto rolls and then stored temporarily until needed for collation – these are also buffers for the process
  • Automated robots move the rolls around, they are smart enough to recharge themselves as well
  • The collation process is ordered to ensure they get the lowest postal prices, right down to the order the pallets are loaded onto the truck
  • The process used to take 4 days and now is about 4 hours
  • There are very few humans on the factory floor – just highly skilled workers for operations and machine repair
  • Continuous learning and improvement – can now insert different offers for different households for example

 

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