Innovation in Resource or Process Efficiency 2018

During the annual Manufacturer’s Summit, a special award ceremony is held to celebrate the most innovative businesses and leaders in the Inland Empire. These leaders have great ideas for growing the business, dramatically improving performance and addressing some of the toughest challenges in today’s manufacturing industry.

E=mc² Innovation Awards will be presented to local manufacturers who submit the best innovations that result in tangible business improvement.

Congratulations to our recent award winner!

2018 Innovation in Resource Efficiency Winner

Address: 301 Tennessee St. Redlands CA, 92373


La-Z-Boy West located in Redlands, CA has been a leading furniture manufacturer in the Inland Empire for more than 50 years. With more than 350 employees over two-shifts, the facility prides itself in building a quality American product delivered to the customer’s home in no more than four weeks while being a resourceful manufacturer with the materials and personnel available.

The La-Z-Boy West Continuous Improvement (CI) Team utilized the Lean Six-Sigma Methodology to drive change in multiple facets within the Poly Department:

  • Employee Training & Process Adherence
  • Manufacturing Process and Material Flow Optimization
  • Department Accountability and KPI Tracking

After reviewing the different standard operating procedures available within the department, three major processes were identified needing proper defining and standardization across both shifts: Work Order Scheduling, Material Receiving & Weekly Material Inventory Audits. The processes were then clearly defined with sequential steps which were then documented using Visual Standard Work Instructions. These initiatives ensured that the processes in place were standardized and that employees were aware of the expectations being set by management.

With a clearly defined process, detailing equipment utilization, work order status system progression, and all decision points identified in a standard process flow diagram. The standard process flow diagram illustrated multiple areas of opportunity with a common trait: lack of material flow.

The LZB-West CI Team then utilized traditional six sigma methods to analyze the overall process and material conveyance through the department. Placement of the equipment utilized during the fabrication process, lack of staging areas, as well as the numbering convention used for stock keeping units (SKU) locations were identified as the biggest opportunities.

A total of 6 workstations were relocated which alleviated approximately 1,890 square feet for the allocation of sorting areas and additional locations. An additional 186 SKU locations were constructed and placed in the majority of the available space. Additionally, to mitigate the difficulty in identifying part locations, the numbering convention was simplified with the addition of 286 system locations as to assign a location number to each section of the different racks. The efforts to stream-line the process resulted in a +163% improvement in work orders being completed during both shifts.

Although improvement in the department was evident, sustainment is always a top priority of the LZB-West CI Team. Therefore, multiple tracking tools were created to assist the poly supervisor in both managing the department and assuring employees are meeting expectations. The tools include: a WO tracking tool which accounts for complete work orders, current open work orders, and past due open work orders all by machine. A yield tracking tool, which accounts for both nested yield, true yield and the material usage variance (MUV) associated with each foam type. Since implementation, a +8% improvement in nested yield has been captured. In other words, a better utilization of approximately 33,400 board-feet on average per month has resulted in a positive MUV of 62% of the expected budgeted savings in positive months, year-to-date, since the beginning of the LZB-West CI team initiatives.

View past award winners