Duluth, Minn.-Based Manufacturer Delivers Its 200th Plane
KRTBN Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News: Grand Forks Herald - North Dakota
Copyright © 2001 KRTBN Knight Ridder Tribune Business News; Source: World Reporter ™
Cirrus Design’s restructuring this past winter appears to be paying dividends.
The Duluth-based company announced Friday the delivery of its 200th plane, having reached its production goals with the SR22 model.
Cirrus president Alan Klapmeier said in a press release that the company had trimmed manufacturing time by two-thirds.
This came despite a layoff in February of 21 percent of the company’s total work force. Today, it has 512 employees.
Cirrus currently employs 125 in the Grand Forks plant, which makes fuselages and assorted parts. Layoffs cost the plant 20 workers.
But if the company continues to meet production goals, spokesman Ian Bentley said, it could be in a position to hire more workers early next year.
Back in December, it took Cirrus workers 7,000 hours to make one plane, Bentley said.
In May, that figure dropped to 3,600 hours as a process called lean manufacturing was instituted companywide. Originally devised by a manager at Toyota Motor Corp., the process called for a reduction in waste not only in materials but also in time and movement.
Now, Bentley said, each plane takes just 2,500 hours.
Cirrus had in late February reached its self-declared goal of making a plane a day with the SR20 model. In June, it closed in on the same goal with the SR22.
Bentley said the company made 20 planes during the 21 days in June. This month, he said, the company is expected to make exactly a plane a day.
The next goal, he said, is to ramp up to two planes a day by January 2002.
That could require Cirrus to bring employment levels back to pre-February levels, Bentley said, but cautioned that some plants may gain more than others.
In April, the company had said it expected to do that in August.