Kaizen Event for Industrial Heater Workcell

Case Study & Example 

This article tells how Kaizen Events  (Blitz) successfully improved workflow, productivity and quality for a manufacturer of industrial heaters.


Pele Products (not the firm's real name) manufactures a wide variety of electric heaters. These heaters go into dishwashers, hot tubs and many consumer and industrial appliances or equipment. 

Cartridge Heater in kaizen event

Cartridge Heater

  1. Welded end seal.

  2. Mica.

  3. Stainless steel sheath

  4. Element wire

  5. Magnesium oxide packing.

  6. Ceramic element support.

  7. Ceramic cap.

  8. Teflon insulated leads

strip heater in kaizen event

Strip Heater

  1. Post Terminals.

  2. Mica Insulator.

  3. Resistance Ribbon Wire.

  4. Mica Element Support.

  5. Rust Resistant Steel Sheath.

Two of the many different types of heater are shown. Each type of heater has many variations in voltage and wattage as well as in dimensions and physical features. There are tens of thousands of possible permutations. Because of the almost infinite variety, most heaters are made to order.

The plant was originally arranged in a functional layout which required each order to travel to several departments. Normal lead time was about 60 days and even expedited orders required 15 days. Scheduling was very complex and generally considered ineffective.

The blitz approach was used to implement six workcells.


heater workcells after kaizen

The product and process complexity required considerable analysis and preparation in advance of the actual blitz. The products were grouped into families with similar characteristics and enough volume to justify a workcell. Two of these families were the product groups shown above. A separate cell prepared ceramic cores and wound them for the other cells that used these cores. 

The Kaizen Event

The actual detail design and rearrangement was done in several sessions. Each session required about one week. Maintenance personnel worked late shifts to rearrange equipment. Production was at normal volume within two days.


The most important result was lead time reduction. An average order now requires 5-10 days and expedited orders require three days. This is a great convenience to Pele's customers and an important competitive advantage for Pele. 

In addition, inventory dropped significantly, the factory was more orderly, quality improved and productivity increased.

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The Strategos Guide To Value Stream and Process Mapping goes  beyond symbols and arrows. In over 163 pages it tells the reader not only how to do it but what to do with it.

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Books & Videos

Guide to Cycle Counting

Warehouse Planning Guide

Human Side of Lean Video

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