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



Episode 123: Some Principles of Lean and Product Development Flow with Don Reinertsen

The Agile Revolution Podcast

8265695783_995186c1ce_hCraig and Tony are at YOW! Conference and are privileged to spend some time with Don Reinertsen, who is considered one of the leading thinkers in the field of lean product development and author of numerous books including “Principles of Product Development Flow”

  • Principles of Product Development Flow” book and why there is a waterfall on the front
  • Japanese Manufacturing Techniques was the name before it was rebranded as Lean Manufacturing
  • Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System, hated math and thus preferred to sit on the factory floor and tweak processes, hence it was not a theory driven approach but rather empirically driven
  • Need to understand why things work so you can transfer it to other domains, a big shortcoming in lean manufacturing is that they don’t have much of a mathematical view on what they are doing
  • You can use magic in manufacturing…

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