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  • RIP Vincent A. 'Buddy' Cianci Jr., 1941-2016

    by Mike Emiliani | Jan 28, 2016


    It was a average Thursday morning here at Vibco before news broke that Vincent 'Buddy' Cianci, the two-time Providence mayor and icon of the state of Rhode Island passed away.

    For many of us it was the end of an era. Many of us at Vibco remember the first time Mr. Cianci ran for and won mayor of Providence and witnessed the changes he brought to the city and his second mayoral bid and victory almost a decade later. For many of us here, Buddy was Rhode Island; he was Providence.

    Karl Wadensten, Vibco's president and CEO, was a frequent guest on The Buddy Cianci Show, Mr. Cianci's radio show he began in the late '80s and early '90s and started up again in 2007. The two would discuss Rhode Island's important, recurring issues including taxation, infrastructure and roads in addition to current events and immediately pressing topics. 

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Cianci family.

    Read the Providence Journal's full 7-page piece on the legacy of Buddy Cianci

    Go comment!
  • The Nation’s First Strengths-Based State: How Rhode Island Uses Clifton Strengths Finder to Improve a Disengaged Workforce

    by Mike Emiliani | Jan 04, 2016


    Earlier in December, Gallup ran a story titled “Rhode Island Wants to Be the First "Strengths-Based State". The story outlined that in an effort to reverse Rhode Island’s actively disengaged workforce - one of the highest in the nation - using the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment. The Strengths Finder is a test meant to help the test taker understand what their unique strengths are. By extension, how these strengths fit into their job and to the company they are a part of.


    We at VIBCO have been using Strengths Finder for many years with tremendous success in our workplace. Recently, other companies in Rhode Island including Gilbane Construction and Leadership RI and governor Gina Raimondo’s office and cabinet have begun exploring experimenting with Strengths Finder and working into their organization structure. The results, so far, have been encouraging and leading more organizations in the state to try using Strengths Finder.


    Read Gallup’s full piece on strengths in Rhode Island here

    Go comment!
  • Visit VIBCO at World of Concrete 2016 This February

    by Mike Emiliani | Jan 04, 2016


    World of Concrete kicks off today in Las Vegas, Nevada and VIBCO will be showing off our best concrete vibration solutions from February 2nd to the 5th.

    This year VIBCO's indoor booth is C7578

    world of concrete 2016 vibco vibrators indoor booth location

    We'll be featuring the:

    VIBCO will be holding daily demonstrations of the US-900 vibrator with Del Zotto Products - details to come!

    For more information on this year's World of Concrete event, visit the World of Concrete's event page. For more information on VIBCO's featured products and supplemental information visit our World of Concrete product page.

    Go comment!
  • VIBCO Christmas Carols

    by Linda Kleineberg | Dec 22, 2015

    Decorations are up, there is a chill in the air, and the first flakes of snow have fallen. That means it's VIBCO Christmas Carol time!

    Break out the egg nog, gather your coworkers around your desk, and take a few minutes to celebrate the holiday season... VIBCO style.

    And just so you know... the lyrics to all of these songs were written by the amazing, talented and very funny VIBCO Team during the 2011 VIBCO Christmas Party...  

    Listen Now!

     We're Shakin Up Your Concrete

     The VIBCO Team

     Let it Shake! Let it Shake! Let it Shake!

     It's VIBCO! It's VIBCO! It's VIBCO!

     Frosty the Millwright

      VIBCO Vibration Nation


    ©VIBCO Vibrators 2011
    All VIBCO Xmas Carol Lyrics written onsite by VIBCO Employees, Recorded by Ron Hayden, Warwick, RI  

    All rights reserved. 

    Go comment!
  • Pothole Kaizen: How Fort Dodge Used Kaizen in an Unexpected Area

    by Mike Emiliani | Nov 20, 2015


    Kaizen is most commonly associated with Lean manufacturing and has since expanded to other industries including education, leadership and many more in recent years.

    But potholes, road work and city management operations?

    One city in Iowa figured out a way to apply Lean thinking to pothole repair and lay the foundation for a sustainable, efficient solution to fixing the city’s pothole repair and response time.

    The city of Fort Dodge, Iowa recently conducted a kaizen on the city’s pothole patching efforts. Naturally, once the kaizen was completed, the city manager and his staff found that there were many opportunities to improve a process that often goes overlooked. The final report and synopsis found that some areas from a resident education standpoint and others from a process oriented.

    At this past Iowa Lean Consortium, the city manager of Fort Dodge met up with our management team from VIBCO at the event and eagerly shared with us their presentation, data and findings for this particular series of improvements.

    Here’s how Fort Dodge, Iowa worked to solve their pothole problem with Kaizen and Lean ideas.

    Kaizen and Pothole Repair: Finding What Needs to Be Changed

    The Fort Dodge city manager and his team developed two objectives. Each objective was aimed at improving the pothole repair process from the resident’s end all the way through to the team tasked with fixing the pothole. The first was to develop a process which potholes can be patched in 24 hours of the citizen reporting it. The second goal was to provide a simple and effective way to track the progress of their pothole repair statuses.

    Both issues are things that citizens in all towns and cities across the country grapple with and both, as it turns out, can be solved. The team concluded that the voice of the customer (or resident in this case) broke down as follows:

    • Get the potholes filled quickly
    • Make the potholes durable and lasting
    • Minimize the traffic disruptions in the process of repair
    • Make pothole repair easy to report

    With regards to the city employee:

    • They must remain safe during the repair process
    • Make reporting potholes easy for residents
    • Make it easy for citizens to track the status of pothole repair

    objectives fort dodge pothole kaizen process 1

    Identifying Waste in the Process of Pothole Repair

    There is waste in everything if you look hard enough and pothole repair is no exception.

    What the city of Fort Dodge found was that, concerning waste, there are things that can be fixed within 5 of the 7 major wastes.

    In processing, the team found that cold patch mix exposed to the elements requires a lot of extra work to make it easy for road repair teams to move out of the truck and to the hole. Defects in the process include the wrong location of the potholes and incorrect information initially. Transportation waste, the waste incurred from the movement of resources from one place to another, means that it often takes teams longer to get to the pothole site then to repair the pothole. Information processing, a subdivision of processing as a whole, meant that the information chain of how the city finds out about a pothole was lengthy and convoluted with many places for information to get lost or misunderstood.

    Motion waste, waste caused by the physical movement of completing a process, was the largest area of waste. Wasted motion in the pothole repair process included:

    • Setting the delineators
    • Cleaning the pothole
    • Adding material to the pothole
    • Tamping the material down
    • And picking up the delineators

    Current State and Future State

    Mapped out, here is the current state of the pothole repair process:

    pothole kaizen current state map

    Here is the future state map the city developed:

    pothole kaizen future state map

    Breakthroughs and Developments

    With any kaizen, there are breakthroughs and revelations about the process and what can be changed for the better. Among the city’s changes and breakthroughs were:

    • Implementing an Action center for pothole reports
    • Having pothole repair teams flex based on demand and
    • Protection UPM from elements to achieve a quality, lasting patch

    pothole kaizen breakthroughs and developments fort dodge

    Additional Improvements and Changes, Action Plan

    Not only did this kaizen help to achieve the two major objectives for the city’s pothole repair efforts, but many other improvements came about as well. Some of the improvements include:

    • An email published to all Fort Dodge employees encouraging them to report potholes and take input calls from citizens directly to the newly minted Action Center
    • An article written and submitted to The Messenger, a news publication covering the Fort Dodge area introducing

    pothole kaizen other improvements

    Metrics and Success Measurement

    The city manager and team decided that success would be measured by the following parameters:

    • The number of potholes patched
    • Response time from report to completed state
    • And percentage of potholes patched within 24 hours

    Wrap Up

    New applications of Lean principles are always exciting to hear about and this one is no exception. It's no secret that we at VIBCO have been very active in Rhode Island's pothole hole repair efforts so to learn about another organization and group tackling potholes in a different way is phenomenally exciting to hear about. We're extremely grateful that the city manager of Fort Dodge shared his experience with us and we're very excited to share it with everyone.

    Go comment!
  • On the Job: External Vibration and Tight Rebar in Massachusetts (2013)

    by Mike Emiliani | Nov 09, 2015


    Having been in business over 50 years, we've accrued a lot visits to job sites all around the United States. While digging through the VIBCO archives, we came across a short video detailing a job site visit from back in 2013 in Massachusetts involving our Stik It mount , an SVT SVRLS high frequency pneumatic vibrator and some tight rebar. 

    Read the full piece below.

    - - -

    Back in February 2013, our VIBCO field technicians were called to a job site to demonstrate the unique attachment and ability of our Stik It mount and an SVT SVRLS pneumatic vibrator.

    The job: Pouring concrete for bridge pier footing.

    The problem: The crew was using internal vibrators to flow the concrete through tight rebar and having problems getting a smooth, even consolidation all the way through the concrete. Also, the internal vibrator was getting damaged trying to consolidate the concrete in between the tight rebar.

    This particular job site visit was uncharacteristically difficult because the air compressors used to power the vibrators were not working properly. The compressor they purchased did not start and we were delayed from using the SI until. Over an hour into the pour, a second compressor arrived and we were able to hook up our equipment and begin our demonstration on concrete that already began to cake.

    The solution: VIBCO's pneumatic external vibrator and a Stik It mount. This particular company had never used external vibration before and were quite surprised that we were still able to move the mix even as the mix was settling and caking.

    For this job site visit, we took some video and overdubbed the a short synopsis of what happened. Watch and see for yourself the resulting consolidation of the mix:


    Go comment!
  • On the Job: Pothole Repair in Northern Rhode Island

    by Mike Emiliani | Oct 29, 2015


    For many years, VIBCO has been very active in empowering Rhode Island cities and towns to take the right steps to repair their roads and this morning in northern Rhode Island was another instance of VIBCO taking to the streets (literally) to assist the Department of Public Works of this town to take the proper steps to repair their town's potholes. 

    Year after year, Rhode Island ranks among the states with the worst roads in the nation. Rhode Island's roads have been called "structurally deficient"and in generally "poor condition" and almost half of the state's roads are unsuitable to drive on.

    A Big Job For A Small Roller

    The town we visited in northern Rhode Island was like many of the towns in Rhode Island: intimate, working and, unfortunately, suffering from crumbling roads.

    Our job in this town this morning was to help the town's DPW team with their pothole repair technique*. Upon arriving in Johnston, we were introduced to the town's fhighway department foreman and his assistant before heading to the site of the pothole.

    Here was the pothole we were repairing today:

    johnston-rhode-island-pothole-repair-vibco-6

    That's a pretty big pothole and one that the DPW's foreman had doubts that the VIBCO GR-1600H 'Pothole Patcher', their main pothole patching tool could tackle.

    Potholes can range in size and depth but most tend to be on the smaller size, usually about a foot in diameter. This pothole was considerably larger and developed on an incline and mid-sized swale. The pothole was deeper and more developed on  on side than the other, the side that incoming trucks would turn into before getting into the driveway.

    The main concern of the foreman was whether or not the pothole could even handle the project. The foreman was skeptical that the GR-1600H had the power and ability to fix (and keep fixed) a pothole this size and whether or not a a double-wheel ride on roller was needed instead. 

    We were prepared to show that our pothole patcher could tackle the job.

    Preparing and Filling the Pothole

    We're very big on teaching and practicing proper pothole patching procedure here at VIBCO and today was no different. We began by using shovels and hoes to clear out the debris from the pothole and defining the edges. Next, we used a leaf blower to clear out the fine material from the pothole and further define the edges of the pothole. 

    johnston-rhode-island-pothole-repair-vibco-2Next came the patch material, a fine grain asphalt mix. We started loading in the patch material in to the pothole making sure to add more than was needed to move around and fill in areas that were going to need it. The material was spread around using a lute, making sure to evenly cover the entire pothole.

    Then the GR-1600H was brought in. As the GR-1600H was turning on, a little bit of lubricant was released from the container (what is the proper name) onto the drum of the roller. The lubricant helps the roller drum move smoothly across the patch material without pulling up loose material onto the drum. 

    The patch material was static rolled first before the vibration was activated. The proper way to roll patch, whether hot, cold or otherwise, is from the hardest surface to the softest surface, making sure to work from the outside of the pothole inward and pulling back in a slow, controlled way.

    Wrapping Up The Job

    When the equipment was turned off and put away, here was the final result:

    IMG_5125

    Not only was the GR-1600H able to tackle the size of the pothole, it was able to do so in only a few minutes and leave behind a tightly packed pothole seal.

    Read more about our GR-1600H Pothole Patcher here and our Pothole Free RI initiative here.

    Go comment!
  • The Leanest Little State: Rhode Island's Lean Leadership Conference Convenes

    by Mike Emiliani | Oct 27, 2015


    Late last week was a big moment for the Lean in Rhode Island government initiative.

    On Friday, October 23rd Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and her cabinet along with VIBCO's own President Karl Wadensten, Gilbane Construction's Vice President and Rhode Island District Operations Manager Steve Duvel, Leadership RI's Executive Director Mike Ritz, and the Center for Lean Business Management's Bob Emiliani convened at Taco Comfort Solutions headquarters in Cranston, Rhode Island for the first Rhode Island Lean Leadership Conference. 

    A first for the state, the gathering was an opportunity for state agency leaders to provide a status update on their current and future projects since the Lean in Rhode Island government initiative was signed and codified by Governor Raimondo this past April at VIBCO's headquarters in Wyoming, RI. The results were overwhelmingly positive.

    The day began with each agency sharing their improvements they've made since beginning with Lean and each agency had a massive success to share and road map for forth coming projects. The Department of Environmental Management's senior sanitary engineer Louis Maccarone shared that by changing the way the agency processed applications for licenses, the agency was able to process 460 applications in just 24 hours. Donna Costantino, the chief of health professions regulation at the state Department of Health, shared that the Department of Health, an agency tasked with handling and processing thousands of nursing licenses for the state of Rhode Island, has also made magnificent strides towards improving the processing time application to application and streamlining the flow of paperwork throughout the agency. As more and more agency heads took to the podium to share their accomplishments, 

    In tandem with the state's efforts to improve processes and reduce waste using Lean concepts and ideas was the the Gallup Strengths Finder and how identifying a person's strengths can build a stronger workplace. Each person attending the conference wore a lanyard with a laminated card listing five strengths output from completing the Gallup test. These results were to serve as a guideline as what your individual strengths are and how they might combine and mix with colleagues with similar or complementary strengths. During Mr. Ritz's presentation, he shared how useful strengths have been to the board of Leadership RI as well as to those participating in the organization. Gilbane's Steve Duvel agreed, citing a noticeable shift in collaborative efforts and enthusiasm at work since implementing strengths.

    The intersection of Gallup Strengths and their effect on group dynamics came out during an impromptu group activity orchestrated by Mr. Duvel. Mr. Duvel challenged groups of four-to-six people to build a bridge out of paper and tape in 10 minutes. The bridge had to hold up the weight of Mr. Duvel's hardhat and high enough off the ground that the hardhat could slide underneath it. All the groups succeeded. 

    When the challenge was over, the room was polled to see if leadership took charge in the pinch and if so what kinds of qualities those people had and what didn't they have. Moreover, what roles did you observe the other people in the group take and how did those relate to their strengths.

    The day concluded with a short tour of Taco's shop floor, another facility that has implemented Lean to improve it's manufacturing processes. Discussions of additional Lean summits and making Rhode Island a model for Lean government and elevating this conference to a national level were among the ideas floated around the room.

    At this early stage, the elements of Lean seem to be bearing fruit in the Rhode Island government. Although it's still a young project, the conference instilled a strong feeling of promise for Lean in Rhode Island and reason to be optimistic and eagerness to see what else can be achieved in the months and years to come.

    Here are some photos from the day's event:

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-9

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-7

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-8

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-6

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-5

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-10

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-4

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-3

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-2

    rhode-island-lean-leadership-conference-2015-1

    Read More About the Weekend's Events in the Press:

    Advice to R.I.: Focus on strengths, not weaknesses via Providence Journal

    State leaders review their efforts to convert departments to Lean business strategy via Providence Journal

    Go comment!
  • [INFOGRAPHIC] How to Properly Fill a Pothole

    by Mike Emiliani | Sep 25, 2015


    Potholes are a massive problem in the world. In the United Kingdom, a car is injured by a pothole every 11 minutes and in India potholes can become so massive they can ruin entire cars, buses and hurt pedestrians. Here in the United States as of 2014 pothole repair costs exceed 6.4 billion dollars annually.

    In other words, potholes are a massive problem both for the towns that need to fix them and the drivers and motorists that have to endure them.

    VIBCO has been very active in pothole repair in recent years and restoring America's roads. In our home state of Rhode Island, a state whose roads rank 49th out of 50th in terms of road quality, we began the Pothole Free RI and Pothole Free USA initiatives aimed at fixing Rhode Island's pothole problems. The initiative donated to fourteen GR-1600H Pothole Patchers to fourteen Rhode Island cities and provided additional training in proper pothole repair and how to fix a pothole.

    Getting the world's roads fixed - and keeping them fixed - is something we really care about and are very invested in. Check out the infographic below detailing how to properly fill a pothole:

    how-to-fix-a-pothole-infographic-pothole-facts

    How to Properly Fill a Pothole

    1. Clean Out the Pothole

    how-to-fix-a-pothole-step-1-blow-undercut-blow

    Begin by blowing any loose debris and/or water out of the pothole and towards the edge of the road. Aim the blower directly down into the pothole for the best result.

    Next, undercut the edges of the pothole to remove any loose material clinging to the inside of the pothole. Doing so will allow the pothole patch to cling better to the whole pothole and lead to a better patch later.

    Finish preparing the pothole for filling by blowing it out one more time.

    2. Load the Pothole

    how-to-fix-a-pothole-step-2-load-a-pothole

    Pile your patch material into the pothole and use a lute rake to define the edges of the pothole. 

    Be sure to overfill the pothole by about 2-2.5 inches to allow yourself more material to work with.

    It’s important to make sure that the undercut areas are filled as correctly as the non-undercut areas.

    3. Begin Static Rolling

    begin-static-rolling-pothole-patcher-fix-pothole

    With a single drum vibratory roller, roll out the patch working from hard pavement to soft patch. The roller should remain idle throughout the process.

    4. Activate Your Roller

    how-to-fix-a-pothole-step-4-activate-the-vibratory-roller-compactor

    Turn on your vibratory roller and begin rolling out the patch working from hard pavement to soft patch. Work across the patch from right to left, proceeding from compacted to non compacted.

    Start at one edge of the patch and work from hard pavement to soft patch. When one section is complete, pull the machine backwards using the screed bar to shave off any lumps or uneven spots. Continue to work the patch material from hard to soft. Compact the repair so it is plane with the road. Be sure to match the road grade.

    5. Refine Your Edge

    how-to-fix-a-pothole-step-5-refine-the-pothole-edge

    Turn on your vibratory roller and begin rolling out the patch working from hard pavement to soft patch. Work across the patch from right to left, proceeding from compacted to non compacted.

    6. Clean Up

    how-to-fix-a-pothole-step-6-clean-up

    Using a broom or a leaf blower, move the patch crumble out of the lane of travel and move on to the next pothole.

    Go comment!
  • American-Made and Proud Of It: Watch VIBCO's Newest Short, "We Are VIBCO"

    by Mike Emiliani | Sep 25, 2015
    It's no surprise that we take immense pride in our American-made and American-sourced vibration

    products. There aren't any robots out in our factory assembling the vibrators we ship around the world. There are people building those vibrators every single day, putting their hands and their mind to work to build a quality product.

    For the first time at VIBCO, we captured that spirit on film in a new short video called 'We Are VIBCO'. Watch it below:

    Go comment!
  • [INFOGRAPHIC] 8 Amazing Facts About Concrete

    by Mike Emiliani | Sep 18, 2015


    Concrete is one of the world's most used building materials and the history of concrete is a decorated one. Here are 8 amazing facts about concrete:

    facts-about-concrete-concrete-infographic

    1. Reinforced Concrete Was "Laughed Down" At First

    Ernest L. Ransome, an English engineer, is credited as the inventor of rebar and the idea of structurally reinforced concrete. 

    While seen as a necessity in construction today, in Ransome’s 1912 book, “Reinforced Concrete Buildings,” Ransome makes note of how his idea was “laughed down” by the Technical Society of California. 

    Soon after implementing his idea on the Alvord Lake Bridge, he left to the east coast feeling his idea would be better appreciated on the east coast.

    2. The World’s First Concrete Bridge is Still Standing

    Alvord Lake Bridge was built in 1889 in San Francisco, CA. This bridge was the first - and oldest - reinforced concrete bridge, and it still exists today, over one hundred years after it was built. The bridge is also one of the earliest uses of rebar to reinforce structures

    3. Portland Cement Isn’t Named After Portland, OR

    In 1824, Englishman Joseph Aspdin was awarded the patent for a substance he called Portland Cement. He called it such because it resembled the “oolithic limestone” - or Portland stone - of Portland, England.

    4. Thomas Edison Designed The First Concrete Homes

    In 1908, Thomas Edison designed and built the first concrete homes in Union, New Jersey.

    Edison’s idea was to make a house out of a single pour of concrete. He believed given the right mold, “stairs, mantels, ornamental ceilings and other interior decorations and fixtures” would form formed from the same pour.

    While the goal was efficiency in home building, the reality wasn’t. Historian Adam Goodheart wrote that “a builder had to buy at least $175,000 worth of material before pouring a single home.” Adjusted to 2015 dollars, that’s over 4 million dollars!

    5. The Ready Made Concrete Industry Is Massive

    As of 2015, the total sum value of all the ready mixed concrete that is produced by the concrete industry is estimated at $25 billion USD.

    6. Were The Giza Pyramids Built From Concrete?

    Scientists have debated whether the stones that created the Giza Pyramids were carved from stone or cast from a limestone and water mixture and hardened.

    In the 1980s French chemical engineer Joseph Davidovits argued that ancient Giza builders used pulverized limestone mixed with water and hardened the material in natural forms. In 2006, Drexel University researcher Michel Barsoum found a “small but significant” portion of the Giza blocks were cast from limestone.

    7. Before There Was Portland Cement, There Was Roman Concrete

    The Romans are credited as the first developed society to manufacture and construct buildings out of concrete. The Roman concrete was made from lime, volcanic sand and volcanic rocks.

    Scientists later found a ‘secret ingredient’ within the Roman concrete: stratlingite crystals. These crystals formed as a result of volcanic sand binding with limestone. The result was a material that prevented cracking by reinforcing interfacial zones.

    8. The Oldest Piece Of Concrete Was Found in Israel

    The earliest documented finding of concrete dates back to 12,000,000 B.C. in Israel. Israeli geologists in the 1960s unearthed and dated reactions between limestone and oil shale during a spontaneous combustion sometime in history.

    Go comment!
  • Don't Get Left In The Cold: VIBCO DC Vibrators Are Gearing Up For The Winter Season

    by Mike Emiliani | Sep 08, 2015
    While we may just be entering September, it's not too early to get a jump start on preparing for the winter sales opportunities.

    Remember Last Winter?

    Last winter was a tough one across the country, particularly in New England and the Midwest. Cities and towns were unprepared and didn't allocate nearly enough money to their snow removal budgets to remove the tremendous amounts of snow and repair towns after down trees and power outages. 

    Massive amounts of snow fell in many cities all across the nation and some cities saw record breaking snowfall totals. Boston, Massachusetts set a new city snowfall record at which received 108.6 inches of snow over the course of winter 2015.

    Town snow removal workers and independent contractors were working well beyond 12 hour shifts with minimal sleep. Moreover, imagine if you were working 12 hours straight for multiple days on end.

    Would you want to deal with the hassle of fixing your equipment on the job? Would you want to get out of your truck during a blizzard with a shovel and manually figure out what is stopping up your sand spreader?

    Probably not.

    But that was the situation last year more often than not and experts are predicting a similar winter as last year across the country.

    That means a new opportunity to sell a DC vibrator for a tailgate spreader hopper and V-box to:
    • snow removal teams towns, cities and municipalities
    • independent snow removal contractors and landscaping companies
    • anyone expressing problems with material flow on winter snow removal and/or ice control equipment
    Here's what VIBCO has for dealers and their sales representatives:

    Winter Is Coming And Here's What We Have Ready For VIBCO Product Dealers


    In light of the forthcoming winter and the likelihood of expanded town and city budgets because of last year's tremendous winter, it's not too early to be on the lookout for opportunities to sell a VIBCO vibrator.


    1. A Brand New Landing Page Focused Exclusively On VIBCO DC Vibrators


    For the winter 2015-16 season, we've put together a brand new landing page showcasing our DC vibrators for:

    • Tailgate spreaders
    • V-boxes
    • Dump bodies and other winter equipment hoppers, spreaders and containers.
    The page currently features:
    • Product application photos
    • Detailed copy showcasing the value that equipping a VIBCO DC vibrator to your buyers' spreader or hopper can provide
    • Demonstration videos and more.
    We wanted to put together a one-stop-shop for demonstrations and information, technical and otherwise, regarding our DC vibrator line.


    We're also planning to update this page with new photos and new videos as we progress closer to and into the season - so stay tuned!



    Below are bundles of sales literature to forward and share with your outside and inside sales team plus a brand new landing page contaning all kinds of useful information, product application photos, video demos and more for VIBCO's DC vibrator line:

    2. Our VIBCO's Sandbuster™ And DC Vibrator Catalog And Mounting Guide

    The VIBCO Sandbuster and DC Vibrator catalog provides sales teams and dealers with everything they would ever need to know about VIBCO's DC line. This catalog piece contains:

    • Customer testimonials
    • Sizing charts
    • A comprehensive list of brands of spreaders and hoppers that VIBCO DC vibrators are compatible with (and it's a long list) and much more
    Our mounting guide is a must-have resource when selling VIBCO vibrators. Proper sizing and mounting to suit the application at hand are non-negotiable points when selling vibrators. After all, vibration is a powerful force and should be used correctly. 


    We Also Have A Physical Sales Literature Bundle



    We are also preparing physical sales literature packets for those who reply to this email or inquire through another email entirely. The physical sales literature packet will include the following: 


    • A VIBCO Sandbuster and DC Vibrator Catalog 
    • A VIBCO Big Bertha Dumpbody Vibrators Catalog 
    • A dumpbody sizing and data inquiry sheet 
    • A tailgate and V-box spreader sizing and data inquiry sheet 
    • A VIBCO free trial sheet and 
    • A VIBCO Industrial Catalogs request form 
    As the season for DC vibrators begins to roll out, we'll be providing more information regarding how to keep your sales staff informed on the latest VIBCO product releases and updates.

    Go comment!
  • Watch VIBCO's Karl Wadensten on Dan Yorke's State of Mind

    by Mike Emiliani | Aug 20, 2015

    On Tuesday August 18th, VIBCO president Karl Wadensten appeared on Dan Yorke's State of Mind on WPRI12 in Rhode Island.

    Dan and Karl discussed in-depth Karl's latest piece with the Providence Business News, 'Keep Your Ego In Check', as part of the Providence Business News' ongoing series, One Last Thing, leadership in Rhode Island and Governor Raimondo's new initiative to implement Lean principles in government.

    On how the Providence Business News' One Last Thing series began: 

    "We're always talking about lack of leadership in Rhode Island and I'm sick of it", Karl explained. "We have pockets of leadership all over the state but we just don't bring them up."

    "I sent an email to Mark [Murphy] and said, 'Hey, you have this Providence Business News - let's use it as a vehicle for different leaders and positions all throughout the state and call it One Last Thing.'"

    On Karl's piece, 'Keep Your Ego In Check':

    "My article, 'Keep Your Ego In Check', is that as you look at all these newscasts, you're analyzing news and talking to people all the time and you have to take pause and say, 'wasn't there one time when you wanted to stop and ask someone else's opinion?", Karl explained, "or stop and say I don't have all the answers - maybe I better check with somebody? Or don't come in here telling me you know everything because it's so complex".

    Watch the whole segment below:



    Go comment!
  • Ego, Lean and the Workplace: Keep Your Ego in Check

    by Mike Emiliani | Aug 18, 2015

    Late last week, the Providence Business News released an article titled, "Keep Your Ego In Check" by VIBCO president Karl Wadensten.

    The theme of the piece is ego and the workplace. The speed of business is becoming faster and faster with no sign of slowing down any time soon. Businesses are expected to be nimble and be ready to pivot should a major change disrupt the status quo.

     VIBCO's approach to weathering the ever-shifting business landscape was our embracing of Lean manufacturing and Lean principles. Lean's facts-first, critical thinking and problem solving approach to manufacturing, waste cutting and management decision making has been VIBCO's key business compass since the early 2000s.

    While it's one thing to adopt Lean as a company's main, we found Lean can only truly thrive if there is a non-judgmental, idea driven workplace. In other words, leaving your ego aside at the workplace.

    You can read the whole piece here on the Providence Business Journal's site or read the whole piece below.


    - - -

    Keep Your Ego In Check by Karl Wadensten

    Check your ego at the door. That's easier said than done. You have to accept that you, as a leader, do not have all the answers. You can't.

    The speed of business, and the volume and complexity of information we receive every day guarantee that we can't, by ourselves, ever grasp the full scope of a problem. Our key leadership challenge is to develop an organization that can help us to identify and solve those problems – one with critical-thinking skills, that collaborates in nonjudgmental, fact-based ways, and that has good problem-solving structures in place.

    At VIBCO Vibrators, I answered that key leadership challenge when I made a strategic and heartfelt decision to embrace the principles of lean manufacturing. One Lean tool we use every single day is to ask, "Why?" That gives you a starting point for real discovery and digging into a problem.

    Remember that "check your ego" thing? This is where it matters most.

    Listening to others, recognizing that they have true value and likely have a deeper understanding of all the issues than you do, and then going to the place where the work is actually done to see for yourself – those are pathways to getting sustainable, impactful improvements.

    Can you imagine if Rhode Island started behaving this way? We could make profound change happen so rapidly if all of our leaders would simply check their egos and commit to fostering a true spirit of collaboration. And in the process, create a higher standard of living, working and quality of life for all. 
    Go comment!
  • On the Job: Tappan Zee Bridge, New York

    by Mike Emiliani | Aug 14, 2015

    vibco vibrators Tappan-Zee bridge project header image

    The Tappan Zee Bridge is in the middle of a massive reconstruction project and VIBCO is part of the job.

    A Short History of the Tappan Zee Bridge

    The first Tappan Zee Bridge was built from 1951 to 1953. The project cost approximately $8 million (about $61 million in today’s dollars) and was seen as an ambitious project to connect north New Jersey to New York City. Once completed, the new influx of commuter traffic that could easily travel from New York to New Jersey and vice versa spurred businesses and real estate developers to set up company branches and housing, providing commuters with ample new job opportunities.

    The newness of the Tappan Zee was short lived. By 1960, not even a decade after its completion, reports and studies on the bridge revealed that officials and contractor companies had cut corners. The bridge’s finish was beginning to deteriorate, other parts of the bridge were built well below acceptable building standard. Moreover, the original Tappan Zee was designed to be nonredundant, meaning that there was little to no support built into the bridge to help stabilize and secure it should a massive shot hit the bridge jeopardizing it’s structural integrity. For comparison, a suspension bridge’s cable supports are a form of redundancy in engineering.

    Since 2013, a brand new Tappan Zee Bridge has been under construction. Discussions about the project began back in 1999 and spanned almost a decade before any actions were taken. Almost “$88 million in taxpayer dollars was spent, 430 meetings were held, 150 concepts were considered” according to the project overview section of the Tappan Zee Bridge’s website. The project was stuck in a decade-long limbo.

    It wouldn’t be until 2011 when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with help of President Obama’s newly passed Design-Build legislation was the project finally able to leave the discussion room and finally begin construction.

    According to the Tappan Zee Bridge’s website, the project is:

    • Designed to last 100 years without major structural maintenance
    • Projected to cost 3.1 billion dollars over 5 years (April 2018 is the projected unveiling date)
    • Expected to meet or exceed environmental standards

    On the Job: VIBCO and the New Tappan Zee Bridge

    VIBCO began working with the Tappan Zee Bridge contracting company back in 2014. The Tappan Zee contractors contacted VIBCO to explore the idea of using external vibrators on the bridge's pillar and pylon construction.

    Prior to contacting VIBCO, the Tappan Zee Bridge contractors were using internal vibrators to consolidate their concrete pours and experienced a myriad of problems with the internal vibrators they were using. Among the recurring problems were:

    • Inconsistencies in consolidation from pour to pour
    • Voids and rock pockets
    • Unable to get in between the structure’s heavy rebar structure without getting damaged
    • Achieving a substandard finish

    Moreover, the internals weren’t long enough to reach the full length of the climbing forms.

    VIBCO supplied the Tappan Zee workers with our external electric vibrators on the bridge's 16 North and South Main Span Towers and for their pylon pours. The bridge was using OM Engineering climbing concrete forms.

    After the first use, all the problems mentioned above were no more. The vibrators mounted effortlessly onto the bridge’s climbing forms and once activated delivered the smooth, professional finish the contractors were looking for as well as the consistency from concrete pour to concrete pour.

    Earlier this month, we paid a visit at the request of the Tappan Zee contractors to the job site for some additional consultation.

    Here are some photos from the day's activities as well as some photos of our vibrators at work on the climbing forms.

    tappan zee -51 vibco vibrators crane shot


    tappan zee -109 vibco vibrators rebar shot


    tappan zee bridge rebuilding project vibco vibrators rebar shot 2


    tappan zee bridge rebuilding project vibco vibrators rebar shot 2


    tappan zee bridge rebuilding project vibco vibrators team shot


    Check out more VIBCO case studies, field stories and product applications under our On the Job section.

    Go comment!
  • Come See VIBCO at Booth #1966 at the APWA Congress and Exposition 2015

    by Mike Emiliani | Aug 10, 2015


    Phoenix, AZ | Dates: August 30th - September 2nd, 2015

    The 2015 American Public Works Association Congress and Exposition is right around the corner - and VIBCO will definitely be there.

    From August 30th to September 2nd, VIBCO will be showcasing their line of vibrators and vibrator accessories for public works, towns and municipalities. 

    This year VIBCO can be found at Booth #1966. Click the link for all the important information regarding VIBCO on the APWA show floor.

    Vibrators and vibrator accessories that VIBCO will be featuring this year include:

    For more information on World of Concrete including time, date and location, read more on the event on American Public Works Association site and for more information on what we're going to be displaying at this year's show, visit our own page.

    Go comment!
  • On the Job: Green Concrete Home Project

    by Mike Emiliani | Aug 04, 2015


    Last week, the VIBCO field team delivered a shipment of our US-700 vibrators to a job site in southern Rhode Island.

    The job site was a private residential home overlooking a small river. VIBCO began working with the owner and their construction service, Silviera Masonry LLC, back in March to equip the owner of the home his contracting company with the right external vibrators for the job. 

    This was the first green building project the owner embarked on. According to the owner, the residence is going to to be built out of a combination of concrete and Thermomass, a concrete insulation material. VIBCO was called on to supply the correct external vibrators to achieve the smooth, architectural finish and structural integrity that the owner and contractor group expects from the final build.

    As you can see from the photos below, the VIBCO vibrators gave the concrete a smooth, professional finish void of bugholes when it hardened and the forms were stripped away.

    This visit was particularly special because Rhode Island videographer, photographer, and friend of VIBCO Rob Ranney came along with his DJI Phantom 3 camera drone. Rob and his drone helped provide breathtaking cinema-quality footage of the job site and the surrounding landscape, adding a completely new dimension to this trip. A short clip of the forthcoming video of the whole job site is at the bottom of this post.

    While on site, we spoke with Joe Silveira from Silviera Masonry LLC and the general contractor for this job after we delivered his vibrators to him. We asked Joe how our vibrators were working for him, if he had any questions or concerns about our product, and if he could share some thoughts about his experience with VIBCO. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on film.

    Here's Joe's testimonial with his experience with VIBCO 's products:



    Here are some photos shots of the home-in-progress from that morning:


    silveieras masonry concrete finish vibco on the job


    silveieras masonry concrete finish vibco on the job 2 upshot


    silveieras masonry concrete finish vibco on the job stripped form


    silveieras masonry concrete finish vibco on the job close up


    silveieras masonry concrete finish vibco on the job over the hill shot

    The video teaser below showcases the entirety of the job site, the size of the house and the vastness of the area the house is situated in:

    Go comment!
  • Glowing, Grassy and Floating: 3 Must Know Concrete Technologies and Applications

    by Mike Emiliani | Jul 27, 2015

    If you've seen concrete before, it was likely used for a sidewalk, a road, someones patio or maybe even a house.

    But in recent years concrete technology has become more advanced and the applications of concrete are becoming more and more diverse. Concrete is finding it's place in new and exciting applications and places. 

    Some companies around the world are exploring how to build concrete walls and forms that don't disrupt the environment. Others are figuring out ways to illuminate concrete, taking decorative concrete to a whole new level. And some are even making coffee machines, chairs and other furniture out of concrete and seeing fantastic results.

    In this post, we're going to explore some of the new concrete developments and applications that companies around the world are making happen.

    1. GrassConcrete's Environmentally Friendly Concrete Forms

    grassconcrete-grasscrete-application"Our belief lies in establishing better and more sustainable ways to build, where development need sits in harmony with our natural world."

    That quote comes from Bob Howden, the Managing Director of a concrete company in Yorkshire, the United Kingdom called GrassConcrete Limited.

    GrassConcrete Limited produces a number of environmentally-friendly concrete products for roads, roofs and walls including a product called GrassCrete. GrassCrete is a reinforced cellular concrete wherein grass can be grown from it's cavities.

    GrassCrete has been used mostly in urban settings. The lasting strength of concrete allows cars and vehicles to drive over it while the added greenery helps to break up the browns, greys and blacks of the city.

    As explained in this video from GrassConcrete Limited every new GrassCrete installation process begins with removing the top soil layer from the worksite. 

    Next, a sandline is put down replacing the top soil. Plastic star shaped forms are then laid down on top of the sand line. Once the top soil and seed are spread, grass will grow from these plastic forms.

    Next, rebar spacers are laid down in between the grid pattern of the plastic forms. Flowing concrete is laid down on top of the entire form and squeegeed around for an even surface. Once the concrete has hardened, the star-shapes are dug out and a layer of top soil is spread out on top followed by grass seeds.

    According to the above video, GrassCrete can be applied in many different areas and showcase many different benefits including: 

    • helping to improve natural water runoff and drainage
    • providing a better surface for heavy vehicles or emergency vehicles to park on during an emergency event
    • improving slope protection efforts 

    GrassCrete can also:

    • endure loads up to "40 tons gross vehicle weight"
    • reduce sub-base depths and
    • resist differential settlement damage and changes

    and can be applied to:

    • embankment and spill protection efforts
    • flood alleviation projects
    • reservoir lining construction

    GrassConcrete has used their technology all over the world. In one instance in Powys, UK, there was a problem with flooding. Grasscrete was used on the shoulders of the highway to help with drainage and maintaining run-off.

    In areas where an overt area of pavement may not be preferred, Grasscrete offers the perfect, low profile solution. While using concrete to maintain structure isn’t a new concept, the reworking of it’s traditional application is what makes this company’s products so useful.

    *The above images are from of GrassConcrete's website.

    2. Translucent Concrete with LUCEM, LiCrete and More

    Litracon-transparent-concreteWhen you think of concrete, the first thing that comes to mind is most likely not “light transmitting.”  Chances are, light transmitting wouldn’t be a thought that would enter your mind at all when thinking about concrete.  However, LUCEM LICHTBETON, a German company alongside Florack Bauunternehmung, LBM EFO, Luccon Lichtbeton and LiCrete has been on the forefront of translucent concrete technology, making impressive strides in this technology and carving out it's applications and uses.

    Translucent concrete, also known as light transmitting concrete, added a colorful, mesmerizing new dimension to the typical grey, opaque building material.  RWTH Aachen University, is one of the most noteworthy cases of using this luminescent concrete:


    When the concrete is not illuminated, it remains opaque like ordinary concrete.  But when the lights in the building are turned on the building exterior lights up with a brilliant spectrum of colors transforming the building from gray to a colorful work of art. 

    Translucent concrete works by using fiber optic cables embedded in concrete. According to one article:

    "Translucent concrete isn't exactly "see-through," but the new building material draws on optical fibers to transmit light through it while retaining the density that has literally made concrete the cornerstone of buildings around the world."

    The article goes on to elaborate exactly how the optical fibers creates the translucent effect:

    "The fiber strands, which attract and transmit both natural and artificial light, make up about 5 percent of a translucent concrete block's surface volume. The fibers are mixed with traditional concrete components -- water, sand and cement -- and are distributed evenly throughout the surface. Through the resulting translucent panels, a viewer can clearly see the outline of an object on the opposite side of the concrete. Despite this clarity, however, translucent concrete retains its stout, crack resistant, load-bearing quality.

    The light transmitting material is largely believed to have been invented by Hungarian architect Aron Losonczi, who began developing pre-fabricated translucent concrete blocks he called LiTraCon (light transmitting concrete) in 2004, just three years after graduating from Budapest's Technical University. Here, the manufacturer hand-molds large pieces of concrete, embedding thousands of strands of optic fiber in the material at the same time. The concrete is then cut into individual blocks (the smallest are about 48 x 14 inches, or 1.22 x .35 meters). The parallel fiber strands create two distinct grain-type surfaces: one bright and the other dark."

    3. Floating Concrete Docks with Bradford Marine

    floating concrete dock

    Concrete is not the most buoyant material, but with a little bit of additional engineering concrete can hold itself above water.

    Floating concrete docks provide a durable, lasting solution to marina owners and yacht users. Concrete takes a very long time to degrade in water, removing any possibility of a dock needing to get replaced as a result of rot or wear.

    As one manufacturer of floating concrete docks, Bradford Marine explains with regard to the manufacturing process:

    "Floating concrete dock flotation units consist of a fiber-reinforced concrete shell with a polystyrene foam core. Concrete is reinforced with galvanized steel wire mesh with use of galvanized reinforcing steel as an additional manufactured design. Reinforcing bars are provided at corners and along edges of the concrete shell."

    While the concrete itself is nothing out of the ordinary, Bradford Marine has designed a way to make the material more durable and sufficiently buoyant to be used in docking.

    Wrap Up

    These few applications are testimony to the realm of possibilities available when retooling old technology.  While concrete is still a building material as it was intended to be, its usages have expanded significantly.  The modifications mentioned above have given light to new subsets of the concrete industry--subsets that most likely wouldn’t have come into existence without someone asking questions allowing them to explore new options.  

    As you go about your day, challenge yourself to question each interaction you have, whether it be with a piece of technology or a person, and think about ways that these ordinary interactions could be rekindled into extraordinary ones.  You may think of a way to change something that would not only benefit you, but those around you! 


    Go comment!
  • Internal Vibrator Maintenance 101: Assembly, Disassembly and Proper Regular Maintenance of your VIBCO Internal Vibrator

    by Mike Emiliani | Jul 20, 2015


    Having a properly working internal vibrator is essential to any job. No one wants to find out on the way to a job site or midway through a job that the internal vibrator you're using aren't working at full capacity or unable to perform within minutes of use.

    To achieve this long life, regular maintenance is required. Even the finest concrete vibrator are lost if the proper maintenance instruction is not followed.

    This post will help you develop regular maintenance schedule for your internal vibrator.

    In this post we're going to examine:

    • how to properly make sure your internal vibrator is working correctly and
    • how to safely disassemble and reassemble your vibrator

    How to Make Sure Your Internal Vibrator is Working Properly

    Before we get into disassembly let's first check and see how the vibrator parts are working.

    First, it's very important to check your vibrator shaft for any distortion or kinks. If any permanent bend or kink has developed in the shaft, the vibrator will not perform properly and the shaft will need to be replaced.

    Next, check to see if the vibrator is operating within its rates/amperage. To do this, connect the vibrator to an ammeter and activate the vibrator. The vibrator should pull the amperage that is marked on the nameplate, or less. If the amps do not drop below the nameplate rating after 15 seconds of running, the shaft and head will need servicing.

    Your vibrator should not be operated for more than 15 seconds without the vibrator head inserted into concrete.

    After the vibrator motor has been turned off and had a chance to cool, disconnect unit from the power supply. Check the brushes and make sure that they are not sticking and that you have sufficient brush length for continued operation.

    Finally, check the rear ventilation holes and make sure that they are clear of concrete or other grime that may accumulate there.

    Disassembling and Checking Your Internal Vibrator

    pull-out-shaft internal vibrator maintenanceNow we can begin the disassembly process. Your VIBCO internal vibrator was assembled at our factory in Wyoming, Rhode Island and was put together with Loctite Blue 242®, an adhesive for threads and bolts, so the elements would not loosen when the machine is vibrating. As a result, the vibrator might be difficult to take apart initially.

    locking internal vibrator power supply diagramTo disassemble your vibrator for an inspection and cleaning:

    1. Unlatch the shaft from the motor. This is accomplished by:

    • Locating the lever on top of the motor unit and

    • Pressing in the direction of the arrow on the lever and pull the shaft connector directly out of the motor unit.

    At this stage the removing the shaft should not give you too much resistance.

    2. Remove the shaft connector. This is accomplished by simply unscrewing it from the shaft.

    This may be done by hand, without tools, but on occasion it will be seated so tightly that a couple of adjustable wrenches may be required for disassembly.

    remove-connector internal vibrator repair

    Once the shaft connector (part #1A712) is removed from the shaft. Clean the threads of the shaft removing any remnants of the grease and Loctite® that may be there. Be sure to be on the lookout for wear on the vibrator head and shaft and lubricate the inner shaft after 40 hours of use.

    To lubricate the inner shaft of the vibrator:

    1. Pull the inner shaft out of the housing about half of the vibrator's length. If the vibrator has a 7 foot shaft, pull it out about 3 1/2 feet. Check for signs of wear such as frayed cable or small kinks. 
    1. Apply a liberal coating of grease (1/16th of an inch) to the exposed shaft. We recommend Flexi-Lube grease, available from VIBCO in 1 lb and 5 lb containers, but most good quality flexible shaft greases will work.
    1. Re-insert the shaft and re-clean the threads if necessary. Apply some Loctite Blue 242® or equivalent and tighten the shaft connector back onto the shaft.
    1. Open the release lever on the motor unit and re-insert the shaft connector.
    1. Move the lever into the locked position and you are ready to get back to work.

    If you need to check the motor while the shaft is removed, snap the motor 'on and off'. The motor should start quickly and run smoothly. This is a quick snap on and the off. The universal motor of you vibrator is not intended to be run at  high speed without a load attached.

    Wrap Up

    Vibrators are an essential tool when working with concrete. All the more reason to make sure that the internal vibrator you're using for the job is working as it should and delivering it's best.

    Developing a consistent maintenance schedule for your internal vibrator is the best thing you can do. Doing so will ensure that your vibrator will deliver the best performance time after time and save money on new parts and new equipment. Following these steps and these maintenance tips every 40 hours of use and operation will ensure just that.

    Go comment!
  • Lean Manufacturing in Action: 3 Lean Implementation Case Studies

    by Mike Emiliani | Jul 10, 2015

    A successful Lean implementation is one of the most trying and challenging things a company can embark on. It’s a demanding experience for both management and employees. It requires a whole team of people seeing the possible end goal and believing that this transformation is one for the better. For the average organization, that’s a tall order.

    lean manufacturing principlesFailure rates of Lean implementation are staggering. One study from iSix Sigma found that failure rates of Lean implementations, conservatively speaking, hover around 50 percent and can balloon as high as 90 per cent (failure defined as a return to the organization’s original way of doing business) Statistically speaking, there’s a real chance your company won’t make it through the first year of Lean.

    That being said, that doesn't mean hope is lost.

    Lean is a very possible to implement but far from simple. Us at VIBCO, for example, began Lean in the early 2000s when it became apparent to us that our current system of manufacturing our vibrators and making deliveries and fulfilling orders on  time was not sustainable. The changes that needed to take place were dramatic and pressing. Management was working over time learning the language of Lean and serving as the beacon of where to go and how to keep the company focused and engaged. 10 years later, we’re still invested in the cause and continuing to improve. When we host Gemba Walks and tours throughout our factory, we insist to those on the tour that we are far from finishing our Lean journey and it is (and was) far from easy.

    Successful Lean implementation case studies are finite but they do exist, validating the belief that a successful Lean transformation is possible. It’s these case studies that help to shed light on just the kinds of trials and tribulations that an organization must endure going through the implementation, the work required before the implementation to acclimate and familiarize the company with what’s around the corner and the work after - the act of sustainability and keeping on course towards improvement.

    Here are 3 lean manufacturing case studies that highlight how Lean has been successfully implemented.

    1. Case Study #1: New Balance

    If you've ever walked into a JC Penney or Kohl's shoe department, you've seen the New Balance brand.

    Meet New Balance


    new balance headquartersNew Balance is an American shoe and apparel company based out of Boston, Massachusetts with a factory in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 1906 in Boston and began as a manufacturing company for arch supports, later expanding into footwear in the 1960s and later apparel lines including clothes and socks shortly after. The company has remained in the United States and prides itself on its Made in the USA seal and commitment to American manufacturing and Lean as its driving manufacturing compass as of 2003.

    Naturally, the idea of Lean was approached dubiously by New Balance staff. As John Wilson, executive vice president of manufacturing at New Balance explained, "The cardinal rule we made when we started was that that no one was losing his or her job," said Wilson. "If people leave and we don't replace them that are a different story." Part of the challenge of successfully implementing Lean was convince the workers that none was going to lose their job, one of the common fears associated with Lean or any kind of substantial shift in management style and operations.

    Lean Education and New Balance’s Start With Lean


    To help usher in the idea of Lean to New Balance, the company began holding educational sessions.

    Managers from all parts of the company learned lean principles, as well as employees from divisions of the company that one immediately might not think would have any direct association with ‘Lean manufacturing like the accounting staff or design teams. Executives' 30 hours of instruction included a myriad of topics including the foundations of the original Toyota Production System (TPS) concepts, lean product development principles, and value-stream mapping, both the practice of and the theory behind.

    Management on the factory floor and those directly affiliated with the day-to-day factory operations got approximately 100 hours of training in areas including TPS, strategy deployment, the plan-do-check-act problem solving cycle, standardized work, and lean leadership.

    The Lean Implementation: Action, Struggle and Work


    new balance factory lean implementation case studyProblem solving periods happened daily and followed rigid timetables. Members of New Balance’s value stream team would meet with supervisors at in the morning. for production meetings at the stream's designated problem solving location. Members would also meet with also meet with quality assurance engineers on the shop floor daily between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. to review quality issues.

    As one profile piece on the New Balance Lean transformation from the Lean Enterprise Institute details, “during twice daily audits, each team's coordinator uses a check sheet while observing whether operators are following the step sequence for their processes within takt time. Supervisors spot check that the coordinators' audit sheets are up to date”.

    Sustainability is one of the most challenging aspects to a successful Lean transformation. New Balance remedied this by routinely reviewing results from teams operations and reports and charted the findings from one meeting to the next. Additional follow-up audits or reflection times are often scheduled.

    New Balance’s biggest problems were with batch and queue processing and extensive works-in-progress. Prior to Lean, New Balance’s manufacturing process focused on designated stations where specific activities of the product making process would take place. As one station was occupied making a component of a shoe, the other stations were either left with too much work, too little work or no work at all and left waiting for work to come through their space. The batches had long lead times and the inventory required to sustain these large lead times ate into the company’s profit and profit growth potential.

    The addition of single-piece flow (or one pair flow as New Balance referred to it) was pivotal to their production. By ending the batch and queue process, New Balance was able to:


    • Remove excessive inventory and free up space in their factories for more machines or employee focused learning areas

    • Improved faster takt times per unit

    • The ability to take on greater order demand without falter

    • Improve lead times and cut production costs

    • and continue to grow as a company and stay competitive with a wholly American made produce

    lean implementation case study new balance work in progress reduction chartFrom a business logistics perspective, New Balance needed to change there as well. The company focused on how they were going to fulfill their 24 hour promise, a promise to retailers that New Balance  will turn around orders for core style shoes in just 24 hours. "We will ship it in 24 hours from receipt of order," Wilson said from the Lean Enterprise Institute piece. To make sure this promise was met, New Balance made sure it’s core shoe line was made domestically and since it was going to be made domestically and closer to the retail outlets, the application of the aforementioned Lean concepts was all the more critical.

    The most popular domestic styles have annual inventory turns as high as 18, New Balance’s domestic plants can generate at least 24 turns of finished goods due to the lean production improvements. Production planners were able to see what customers are buying by electronically monitoring what shoestyles, sizes, and widths the distribution center has shipped to retailers during a one to five day period.

    They schedule production to replenish what's been shipped, maintaining a level of finished goods to provide a 98% "at once" availability to retailers.

    The ideal level of finished shoes inventory is as low as possible without running out. "It's easy to have 100% availability if you're carrying 200 days of supply," Wilson said. "We're trying to keep finished goods inventory down to 22 days or even lower." Currently some styles are made daily. Most are made weekly, but the company is gradually moving these to daily production as the lean transformation progresses. Planners adjust inventory levels to account for demand spikes in peak months or the introduction of new styles.


    Read more on New Balance’s Lean Manufacturing Implementation:


    2. Buck Knives

    Ever been hunting or know a friend that’s an avid hunter or fisherman? It’s likely you’ve come across Buck Knives. The Buck Knives name has become synonymous with hunting, fishing and outdoor sport much the same way Kleenex has become an interchangeable word for tissue. While the Buck Knives name holds considerable weight in the outdoor equipment market, there was a time when the company was in serious financial trouble and needed a solution.

    Meet Buck Knives


    buck knives headquartersBuck Knife as a manufacturing company is unique compared to the aforementioned New Balance shoes, but benefitted none the less from a Lean transformation. As one can imagine, commercial hunting knives require a different manufacturing process than shoes and serve a different market. Buck Knives must overcome creating a safe (accent on safe) high quality knife product with materials that are subject to very volatile price changes and availability and a high learning curve to the knifemaking process itself and a very, very uneven demand (45% of the company’s sales come during 3 months of the year).

    Back in 2001, Lean proved to be the best solution to the survival of the Buck Knives company. The combination of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks and the increased cost of doing business in California, the company’s home since it’s inception in the 1940s, Buck Knives was on the brink of collapse. None was buying knives and the cost to make knives was unsustainable. A factory re-location was imminent and a big pivot from the old way of manufacturing was required to keep the company afloat through very trying times.

    The first step was to develop for how to survive and move forward. First, the company set out to reduce their costs that began by moving to a state that charges less for energy, regulatory and labor costs (their current location in Port Falls, Idaho), buying a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and becoming a Lean-oriented culture. The latter being the most important for long term survival.

    Prior to 2001, Buck Knives worked in a way many manufacturing operations tend to work: with a batch and queue model. By this design, the factory floor’s operations were disconnected and left individual stations waiting for the station prior to it to complete its work before beginning on it’s own. Additionally, like New Balance, abundance of works in progress were very common.

    Naturally, the first major shift was to assembly cells and away from batch and queue. This was the first step Buck Knives made and the factory workers saw the improvements instantly and became inspired to keep going. Cross training began and leaders from one group trained another who then trained another over the course of several months until the factory floor was completely converted to assembly cells.

    To support the practical application Lean, learning and teaching sessions were held. Experts from around the country were summoned to share their knowledge and insights into the Lean transformation process and to offer insights into how to sustain the positive changes that were already taking place. The overarching positive was a “60% reduction” in work in progress projects.

    lean manufacturing case study buck knives factoryThe sport knife market experiences a very uneven market with large peaks and valleys with regards to demand. To tackle these inconsistent in an already beatdown market landscape, the company began by working to reduce their finished goods inventory to one month’s worth of product but with the ability to ramp up or throttle down production for the fluctuating demand cycles. This way, there was always just enough stock on hand. Buck Knives also began vendor-managed inventory programs with large clients like Walmart and Cabelas. Using Walmart’s 12-month sales totals, the best indicator the company has had for measuring demand, the sales team would then divide the 12-month sum into 10 equal amounts between January and October to determine how much product should be made and kept in stock.

    Though our the company’s implementation of lean into their manufacturing processes, wasteful spending was uncovered. C.J. Buck, the company’s CEO, explains that the company uses a specific kind of fine blank machine to cut blades from metal and was faced with having to invest in new customized tooling for the machine to produce a new product. To acquire and equip this machine with the proper tooling usually costs Buck Knives around $80,000 and yields a marginal turnaround time.

    Brian Maskell from BMA, Inc., a Lean accounting firm,  asked if the company had idle capacity elsewhere that could handle the increased demand. As it turns out they did in fact have something idle: a laser cutting machine, but it cuts blades at the rate of 60 to 80 an hour while the fine blank machine can produce 600 to 800 an hour.

    lean manufacturing case study examples buck knives box scoreAccording to traditional-accounting principles, the large-batch option would have been most profitable. But using lean-accounting principles, which favor flexibility over large-batch production, the laser machine was the better option, and that’s what the team chose. The laser machine allowed for smaller batches and save money on not investing in acquiring the needed tooling for the machine.

    For Buck Knives, Lean came at a turning point for the company. The company was faced with a series of extreme situations at the same time - the September 11th attacks, a national change in the feelings towards buying weapons and specifically sports knives, and an increase in the cost of doing business in California - that shattered the company’s original way of meeting customer demand and forced them to adopt a new way of doing business that could endure these changes.

    The results spoke for themselves in a few short years. Buck Knives cut down on excessive machinery, improved lead times, removed excessive inventory and stock product, cut costs and got a company behind the vision.

    Read more on Buck Knives’ lean implementation process:


    3. Case Study #3: The Wiremold Company


    The Wiremold Company still holds the title as one of the best cases of a successful Lean implementation in manufacturing activities.

    The history of The Wiremold Company began in 1900. D. Hayes Murphy, a college graduate with an ambition to jump into the manufacturing business. Murphy, along with his father Daniel E. Murphy, became interested in the Milwaukee-based Richmondt Electric Wire Conduit Company, a company that manufactured a special kind of wire conduits. Richmondt’s conduits were zinc-coated, and pipe-like allowing for wires to be housed within them, protecting the wires from wear and corrosion.

    While the product was in high demand, the company was inefficiently run, wrestling with difficulties meeting the high demand for their product. Amidst their management issues, the Murphy family confronted management with an offer to buy them out for 10,000 dollars. The transaction lead to what we now know as the Wiremold Company. Since the buyout the company uprooted from Michigan and settled in Connecticut.

    Warren Packard and Wiremold Before Lean

    The Wiremold Company was not always a beacon representing the ideals of Lean manufacturing come to life. Wiremold came to prominence after Art Byrne become the company’s CEO in 1991. Byrne and then vice president of Wiremold’s finance Orry Fiume who spearheaded the company’s now famous Lean initiative, transforming the company from one that was losing money and running at a fraction of it’s potential to a well oiled, flowing machine increasing sales from 100 million to 450 million dollars in 10 short years up until the company was sold in 2001.

    Wiremold’s Lean transition, like Buck Knives and New Balance, suffered from a stagnant, stifling way of doing business. Despite being an international leader in conduit casing, by the 1980s, Wiremold was slowly becoming paralyzed by company inefficiencies. Tools and machines in the factory were and the company was quickly being matched by competition and unable to respond quickly. It was taking too long to get new products to market, deliveries were lagging, customer service was declining, and overall growth was falling off.

    Under Warren Packard, Wiremold’s company treasurer since 1973, Wiremold launched several initiatives aimed at righting the ship, including a first stab at implementing a Japanese style just-in-time production system. The initiative failed. Equipment failures unable to maneuver the new expectations to personnel difficulties with the idea of increased production on that scale. Moreover, employees were hesitant and apprehensive to the idea of change and let the idea go slack when it was left to them to carry on. Packard soon realized that himself realized the company needed a new leader to make the sort of fundamental changes which would spark a turnaround.

    He thus announced in early 1991 that he planned to retire and then led the search for his replacement. Late in the year Art Byrne was hired on as the new CEO.


    Byrne, Fiume and Wiremold’s Lean Transformation


    lean operations case study art byrne wiremoldArt Byrne joined Wiremold  years of experience as a group executive with the Danaher Corporation, where he had successfully made use of kaizen to improve the company’s factory floor processes and manufacturing operations.  At Wiremold, in an unusual theme uncharacteristic to Lean but consistent with Packard’s belief that the company needed a fresh start, Byrne first reduced the workforce, offering early retirement packages to unionized workers and implementing a modest layoff of salaried employees.

    Byrne then encouraged management to join him in replacing the traditional hierarchical system of management with a more ambitious team-based model. As Byrne saw it, the team structure provided the important framework for his implementation of both kaizen, in which small groups participate in problem-solving sessions, and just-in-time manufacturing as well as to encourage management to go to the gemba with their fellow co-workers rather than sit perched above the day-to-day fray. Within a few years the manufacturing process had shown a steady stream of improvements, and both defects and inventory were dramatically reduced.

    Kaizen, Byrne’s biggest asset at Wiremold, spearheaded many of the changes. While kaizen workshops on the production floor attacked long lead times, delays, batching, wasted space, and poor material and information flow, kaizens in the tooling department attacked the same problems in tool maintenance, design, and fabrication. Management as well as floor workers were involved in kaizen. The mindset became lasting at Wiremold, shifting away from ‘doing kaizen’ - implying a start and end point to kaizen - to always being in a state of kaizen where employees as well as management were encouraged to act on their ideas in the name of improvement.

    The results spoke for themselves. Productivity at Wiremold improved by 20 percent in each of the first three years.. Between 1991 and 1995, inventory levels were reduced by more than 75 percent. The time to develop new products was reduced from three years to less than six months. Sales, wages, and profits were all growing at a substantially greater pace, with revenues doubling from $100 million to $200 million between 1991 and 1995. As a result of the lean techniques that Byrne had championed, Wiremold became a model to be emulated, its turnaround story told in the books Lean Thinking (1996) and Better Thinking, Better Results (2003).

    The newfound company performance and skyrocking profits opened up new doors for Wiremold in the way of acquisitions to improve the company’s supply chain and introduce new products. Perma Power Electronics Inc., a producer of super suppressors, line conditioners, and uninterruptible power supplies was acquired in 1993 as was Walker Electrical Products, a manufacturer of in-floor and overhead systems for distributing power, lighting, and communications.  Raceway Components, Inc., the leading brand of poke-thru systems, which provided invisible wire and cable management for open-space areas was acquired in 1995.

    The kaizen approach also aided new product development efforts. One of the newer introductions came late in the 1990s when Access 5000 decorator raceway debuted. This nonmetallic multi-channel raceway came in a selection of finishes, including real wood veneers, thus offering a combination of architectural trim and cable and wire management in one package. By 1999 the acquisitions and new products had helped revenues double yet again, to approximately $400 million.

    Byrne embodied the often overlooked Lean pillar respect for people. While most managers beginning on a shift towards Lean focus on the idea of improvement and cutting waste, Byrne focused not only on those ideas but making sure his employees were listened to and respected throughout the process. Moreover, Byrne’s methods for exercising this idea were far from complicated. Byrne simply included everyone in kaizen, elected strong leadership to kaizen, empowered his employees to act if they saw something needed change and provided positive reinforcement when something good changed. He encouraged his team to learn by doing and going to where the work was done and the money was made for Wiremold in the name of perspective and understanding. He challenged his employees with a tone and demeanor that was less ‘do this now because I said so’ and more ‘I believe you can do this because you are a skilled, competent individual’. The change in tone and delivery made all the difference when communicating and striving to bring a team to new levels of insight and action.

    The 1990s were a fantastic time for Wiremold. The company was the talk of the Lean world and crowned as the best implementation of Lean in an American business and sought after by business leaders for guidance and insights. However, by the start of the next decade things turned sour for the company. In 2001, Wiremold was bought out by a French competitor company Legrand and the Lean improvements championed by Fiume and Byrne were halted. Legrand purchased Wiremold believing this immense profitability was self-sustaining and would continue even with the change in management. They were wrong.

    Micromanagement returned to Wiremold, employees were not encouraged to act and study as they were under Byrne and, worse, the batch and queue model of manufacturing returned. The Lean improvements were thoroughly undone within a few short years of the acquisition and the company was returning to a pre-Byrne workflow and profitability.

    Art Byrne, since his retirement from the company in the early 2000s, has spoken extensively on his time with Wiremold, sharing his learning experiences and insights with thousands of other business and organization leaders around the world. While Wiremold remains a part of Legrand to this day, there aren’t as many clear examples of what happens before and after a Lean transformation as well as what happens when a company gets behind Lean in every way - from management to janitors.

    Read more on Wiremold’s Lean implementation case study:


    Wrap Up


    Lean is difficult, but far from impossible. From a theoretical perspective, it’s fairly easy to understand the idea behind the concepts and the tools. From a practical application perspective, the action is vastly different.

    Many companies struggle with Lean and achieving a successful Lean implementation and make the mistake of believing there is an end to the journey. There isn’t. VIBCO still considers itself on a Lean journey. Every day it’s staying on point with the ideas of watching out for the 7 (some say 8) wastes, respecting the ideas of those around you and for management keeping up with making sure that your company has their eye on the end goal.

    These are a few of the case studies that have stood out as remarkable in the world of Lean implementation. All these companies had a certain way of doing business but it wasn’t until something came along that was going to jeopardize the future of the company was a change made. Each of these companies had a top down management style, processed good batch and queue and, without knowing it, were working at a fraction of their potential. For all these companies, including VIBCO, it wasn’t until some massive event occurred that caused management to realize that a change needed to be made, rally the company behind a cause and go forward.

    It’s very easy to talk about Lean but it’s very difficult to implement it, but with a management structure willing to hear some new ideas, a team ready to get to work and a whole lot of commitment coupled with the understanding that it’s going to be a trying experience and it’s going to be difficult, any company or organization can undergo a successful Lean transformation.

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