industry experience


The Manufacturing industry is the area that espi finds the majority of our projects centered. Most manufacturing companies are confronted with the 21st century business reality of increased customer demands, regulations, global competition and constant material struggles. The environment is quite difficult but those companies willing to adapt to this modern landscape the possibilities are limitless.


New technologies enable companies the opportunity for production and process innovations, while allowing end-to-end visibility for the organization. Manufacturers today capitalize on this insight by making better decisions with a clear strategic plan, an efficient supply chain, streamlined operations, and a solid technology foundation.


Related case studies

Operational Improvements – Decreased Production Costs to Increase Profitability

CHALLENGE – The Kraft Foods’ Lehigh Valley facility faced the possibility of a complete shut-down unless it decreased production costs and increased profitability. Kraft partnered with personnel from espi in a three-year strategic plan to streamline production, reduce inventory and increase labor utilization.


METHODOLOGY – The first task involved reducing the downtime caused by cleanouts and production changeovers on the cook and fill lines for salad dressings. Through process improvements, change-over downtime was reduced by 50% with a corresponding cost savings of $150,000.


The team then created a strategic model that correlated production amounts with finished goods inventory and tied the data into the current scheduling system. The model provided the necessary information to support 99% on time shipping for the customer and saved Kraft $600,000 annually.


By redesigning the external warehousing layouts, the team increased practical storage space by 20%, helped to create an improved finished goods tracking system for stock locations, and yielded savings of $500,000 per year by reducing the need for external storage space.


Manpower analysis showed that each production area could maintain production levels with fewer, flexible crews, thereby reducing the company’s dependence on temporary workers. This recommendation resulted in an annual cost savings of $100,000.


Perhaps the most important, the project team helped lay the groundwork for future improvements and provided the tools and impetus for Kraft facility to continue upgrading and improving operations on their own.

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FMI – New Warehouse Layout With Pick, Pack, and Ship Service



FMI specializes in helping their customers bring their OTC, beauty, personal care, household fragrance, and pet care products to market by manufacturing and filling this wide variety of items.


As a natural extension of this work, they are now expanding into the storage and shipment of client products through an expanded “Pick and Pack” operation. They have been servicing some of their smaller customers under a small operation that they affectionately call the “brute force method.” Since this is not their area of expertise, they needed assistance in further developing this operation covering their operational layout, inventory control, daily activities, and system control.



The espi team gathered key business information to gain a better understanding of the current and longer-term “Pick and Pack” operations. The information included current and projected inventories, orders, and forecasts for the current and future customers.


After the information was analyzed an inventory strategy, long-term storage, and immediate order picking requirements by SKU and customer were determined. We then established how the process would function using a combination of manual and semi-automated functions. Based on these, warehousing floor space for the current and accounting for potential estimated future growth was determined.


Next, espi developed a conceptual physical layout of the warehousing and established how the materials would be organized. Recommended equipment such as racking, shelving, conveyors, material handling, and a scanning system was determined. Following the selection and installation of the racking, the espi team evaluated the new conÿguration to ensure that the material locations were set to handle all transactions.


The current costing model for the Pick-n-Pack operation was also analyzed. Based on other models and our recommended processes costs were identified and the model was updated while at the same time maintaining cost competitiveness within acceptable industry levels.

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East Coast Erosion – Operational Process Improvements

East Coast Erosion Control (ECEC) was founded in 2002 with a commitment to provide quality products and superior service. By following and strictly adhering to that mission statement; ECEC has become one of the leading manufacturers and providers of a global portfolio of erosion and sediment control products. Their commitment to high quality and customer satisfaction has established a new standard for the rolled erosion control blanket market.


As their business grew, ECEC realized that there was a need to improve and automate their operational processes. Prior to this project, the ECEC processes were all manual. Roll weights were manually marked on forms that were then inserted in the rolls. Machine downtime was manually recorded on paper forms, which was not very accurate. Production data were manually recorded and then entered into a handheld terminal which interfaces with the MISys ERP system.


espi partnered with GCI to develop and implement Advanced Shop Floor Control System for the Blanket Machine. This System provides automated reporting of production information to the MISys system, captures downtime information, captures quality information, generates product labels (with roll weight, bar codes, and QR codes), and provides production and quality reports. Information provided by the system will assist ECEC in making better and timelier production decisions as well as identifying areas for additional improvements. It will also help ECEC meet upcoming American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) regulations which will require plant audit inspections to ensure quality compliance. Other benefits of this new system are improved inventory accuracy, improved raw material consumption accuracy, and improved equipment utilization.


East Coast Erosion now has the capability to track downtime and automatically report production data such as roll weights, length, and quantity. This system will help East Coast Erosion measure the performance and thereby achieve their productivity targets.


QA application was developed to support the roll production and downtime tracking system. This QA application was developed in ASP.NET and runs on the PC server’s IIS server.


System reports have been developed for Rolls Produced Report and Downtime Report. These reports were developed and run on Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services.


The following tasks and accomplishments were achieved by the project team during the development, installation, and start-up of the Blanket Machine QC System on two blanket machines at the ECEC facility in Bernville, PA. These led to signiÿcant operational process improvements on these machines.


The project team assisted GCI with the development of the QC System for the Blanket Machines. During the project, weekly conference calls occurred to review the status of the project. Weekly status reports were also issued that provided the activities completed during the current weekly period as well as the activities expected to be delivered during the next weekly period.




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BOD Room and Facility Expansion Planning


The original plan envisioned by Suburban Testing Labs (STL) involved the addition of a new Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) room and a rough plan for specs for landlord fit out of the remaining available area. This was necessary in order to accommodate future growth by STL of the remaining floor space in their newly acquired building space.

During the discovery and evaluation phases of the project it was determined by Suburban that the original project scope needed to be modified to also include the relocation and expansion of an existing PREP laboratory. Certain other testing stations were identified as part of these expansion requirements.

espi worked with the Suburban Testing team to understand their processes and the relationship of the new BOD room and Prep laboratory to the other areas in their facility. A rough floor plan providing general plumbing, electrical feeds and demolition was established as part of STL’s expansion planning and landlord build out requirements.

Process flows with sample storage and testing equipment /workstations were determined. The team also established these for both the additional base and additional space while also accounting for future growth for a Prep and Gravimetric laboratory.

Following development of the floor space requirements and equipment locations and relocation of specified testing laboratories, the next phase of this project involved a more detailed plan for build out of the new bay and modification of the existing facility for the BOD room, Prep, Gravimetric lab and sample storage areas.

espi worked with the STL team to finalize these locations and requirements in order to make the modifications and improvements to the existing layout, thereby optimizing the available floor space and streamlining the process flow. Then, general RFP documentation for the required work including detailed equipment lists and a TO-BE layout of the targeted areas within the building were developed.


espi and the STL team located and laid out a proposed new BOD room and effectively used the remaining additional floor space for testing lab expansion. The potential growth affecting other laboratory tests performed in the various departments was considered. Based on this, STL executive management determined it was necessary to expand capacity and capabilities of the current PREP department.

During the course of this task it was necessary to revise the original project work scope envisioned by STL in order to achieve the targeted goals based on future growth expansion needs. This scope revision entailed:

  1. Relocation and expansion of the existing PREP laboratory.
  2. Placement of the BOD Room in the space occupied by the PREP lab.
  3. Modification to the existing storage room for use of selected tests.

STL’s executive management determined the growth that will be experienced with various tests performed in the PREP laboratory. Based on this, it was determined to relocate the current PREP lab to the newly expanded floor space. The proposed new location for this department was expanded. Certain tests presently done in PREP were allocated to other departments further increasing the capacity of this area and better utilizing the floor space.

Detailed Testing Equipment /Workstation lists including sizing requirements were established in each testing department including identification of support utilities. A proposed TO-BE layout including modifications to the existing operations and additional floor space was developed. The proposed layout accounted for the additional floor space and included changes to the existing operations in certain areas of the building, encompassing the various key testing applications and testing environment conditions.

espi also developed RFP documentation outlining the work scope necessary to make the required construction improvements and build out requirements to the building. This documentation was categorized by skill type and preferred sub-contractors were selected by STL executive management, competitive bid quotations.


As a result of this project, the STL and espi teams worked together to develop a detailed plan for the introduction a Biochemical Oxygen Demand Room and identified for use of the additional floor space. Modifications to the current laboratory departments were detailed and incorporated as part of the overall expansion plan. The RFP documentation reflecting the modifications and work scope requirements were developed for release to prospective contractors.

These detailed plans and documentation, when executed, will assist Suburban Testing in successfully attaining the improved utilization of both current and new floor space in their facility. The benefits will also contribute in streamlining the various testing processes and allowing them the ability to keep up with current demand and the opportunity to further expand based on future business growth.

As of this writing full construction was not completed. However, areas for expansion have been identified and documentation developed for this work. The benefits from these when fully executed will assist Suburban Testing in moving forward with their future expansion and build out of their facility to accommodate their projected growth.

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Making the Right Decision – Orbel ERP Selection

precision_metal CHALLENGE Orbel was using an ERP system installed in 2006 and up to date with the latest releases. The system had an estimating component and CRM however they were not robust enough for the needs of Orbel and additional software packages were purchased. These packages, as well as others used, did not communicate to the ERP system making it di˜cult to have end-to-end visibility. Accurate reporting was also a question based on the various systems. Looking at the projected growth and direction the company wanted to move in the question arose “Will this ERP system suit our needs or is there another package that will help us reach our goals?”   SOLUTION espi was selected to help Orbel analyze the business processes and evaluate the current ERP system. At this time a gap analysis was conducted identifying the areas within the current system that did not support the business and if these were options available by the ERP vendor. It was determined that some areas could be addressed through the existing software however other areas would not be addressed and some future goals were not an option. It was at this time that espi began to compile a list of potential ERP systems that would provide the support Orbel was looking for.   PROCESS espi began the project by establishing an understanding of all facets of the Orbel business processes. All facets targeted under the ERP scope were included: Marketing, Sales, Engineering, and Quoting (Customer Relationship Management); Order Management, Scheduling, Purchasing, Production Control, Shipping, Billing, and Payables (Order to Cash and Procure to Pay). Master Data was reviewed and sampled to support realistic scenarios by candidate software vendors as well as a starting point towards defining appropriate controls and configuration in the new system.This was done through a coordinated effort outlined by espi, to include the Orbel executive team and their subject matter experts. espi also conducted an analysis of market growth strategy Orbel was planning; and what the potential influence factors were regarding a final solution.   Activities and topics during the assessment phase:
    • Define key stakeholders and participants in the selection process
    • Agree upon project timelines and key milestones.
    • Define scope, including users, modules, locations, level of customization/centralization and potential solution structure.
    • Conduct process reviews and future state definition with key stakeholders and participants.
    • Establish initial opportunities for improvement expected to be brought about as a result of the new system introduction.
    • Communication with the user base to create initial awareness and project support
    • Explore ERP options / List priorities as they relate to each option:
      • Best-of-Breed
      • Hybrid
      • Mixture of options
    • Hosting strategy
      • Software as a Service
      • On-premise
      • Combination
    • ERP Vendor Evaluation and Software Selection Activities
      • Develop requests for proposals for software implementation, integration and consulting services
      • Create “demo scripts” for vendors to present to the team
      • Conduct preparation and discovery calls with each of the short-listed vendors to ensure they are comfortable with the client’s requirements, demo scripts and evaluation
      • Create on-line employee evaluation surveys based on the client’s specific requirements
      • Facilitate vendor demonstration sessions
      • Analyze software’s functional strengths and weaknesses relative to the client’s business requirements
  These steps in our process ensure that the client receives a balanced and neutral view of key attributes, functionality, strengths and limitations of vendor products to help the project team identify the best-fit software option.   From a field of nearly 100 potentially viable ERP solutions, espi narrowed the final list to four (4) offerings which were chosen for further evaluation and demonstration. espi constructed vendor scripts and scorecards for use by the Orbel selection team during the demonstrations. Results of these product evaluations reduced the arena to two final contenders.  
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Hatfield Meats – Facility Planning



Hatfield Quality Meats is a family owned regional pork producer. In an effort to increase production capacity and sales, Hatfield was interested in short-term improvements of their bacon processing operations and development of a strategic plan that would include possibly building a new processing facility.


espi personnel began by identifying and documenting improvement opportunities in order to enhance throughput, customer service and quality, while reducing costs. The project team analyzed the operation through time studies, interviews and extensive observations.

The project progressed with investigation of supply chain requirements. Team members collected input from customers, suppliers, and Hatfield personnel that yielded a detailed picture of the company’s ongoing requirements. After completing the preliminary investigation, the team constructed production process alternatives. A simulation model of the current operation revealed that throughput could be increased by 13% by eliminating bottlenecks and constraints.

Finally, a planning tool that allowed Hatfield to conduct “What If” analysis on space, equipment, and labor requirements was developed. The use of this tool in conjunction with the simulation model provided an optimum projection of current and future requirements for the operation.

Based on the project team recommendations, Hatfield decided to defer building a new facility until the business plan was finalized, thereby avoiding millions of dollars in an uncertain and flawed expansion plan. The new strategic planning process was modified to evaluate other business units. Hatfield is now beginning to implement various improvements that will yield them significant, profitable returns.

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Appeeling Fruit – New Facility Layout


Appeeling Fruit – New Facility Layout


Appeeling Fruit, INC (AFI) has been in business since 1991. They initially supplied apple slices as an industrial ingredient to bakeries. They then began to visualize opportunities on the customers’ level by attaining an apple product with a longer shelf life. In 1998, they began testing a new Vitamin C type treatment which enabled them to package tasty, fresh, ready-to-eat slices. espi in association with Ben Franklin Technology Partners and Lehigh University partnered with Appeeling fruit to assist in their new facility development and occupation.


Appeeling Fruit, Inc. (AFI) determined the space requirements needed based on future growth in the planning and selection of their new facility.


An initial layout was developed, locating the existing and new equipment into the new building. This conceptual layout was revised based upon FDA and customer requirements for separation of the three processing operations (Washing, processing and packing) into segregated areas. Budgets were developed for building purchase, renovation to the building, addition of new equipment, and movement of AFI’s current facility to a new location in Dauberville PA. As a result of the assistance provided in this project, Appeeling Fruit has successfully relocated to their new facility and started up their production operations. They are now able to operate two separate product lines independently. This allows them the ability to keep up with current demand and the opportunity to expand based on projected future business growth.

AFI is now able to keep up with the market demand of its current product, new packaging types (trays, etc) and expanded product offerings.  
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DAY-Timer Operational Improvements



Day-Timers, Inc. manufactures paper-based and computer-oriented time management and organizational products. In addition to their already thriving business, the company wanted to expand into other markets by leveraging the advanced technology of digital printing to manufacture customized paper-based organization products. Day-Timers partnered with personnel from Enterprise Systems Partners, Inc. (ESPI) to simulate and analyze their manufacturing processes, capabilities and operational strategies for the new digital printing technology.


Launching the new line of customized organizer products and ensuring a smooth start-up of the first digital printing line and finishing cell constituted the main operational goals. The primary project deliverable was to define the product finishing portion of the production process and to introduce cellular manufacturing technology and techniques into the Day-Timers production culture.

By gathering production data and interviewing key staff and production employees, the project team developed a manufacturing simulation model. Several scenarios were modeled to analyze the input of demand and operating conditions on throughput cycle time and resource utilization.

By successfully launching digital printing technology and cellular manufacturing Day-Timers was able to dramatically reduce the cycle times and work in process.  
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5-year Strategic Plan

Braun manufactures medical devices such as needles, catheters, and valves. These devices are sold individually or in kits for a variety of medical procedures.


To develop a strategic manufacturing plan that would allow B. Braun to integrate and consolidate their assembly and injection molding facilities and increase automation within their operations over the next five years. To educate B. Braun on how to create and maintain a manufacturing strategic plan.


Drawing from a series of interviews with personnel from Sales and Marketing, Research and Development and Operations, ESPI and the B. Braun team developed a plan that integrated all of their divisions’ current and future plans and initiatives into a comprehensive manufacturing plan.

Key areas of interest included sales growth, new product introduction, automation, movement of hand operations to other facilities and integration of injection molding and assembly operations. ESPI then determined the equipment requirements necessary to handle these needs and the optimal plant configuration to meet all of the divisional necessities.


The result was a five year progressive reconfiguration of the Marcon Boulevard facility that allowed B. Braun to make all of their consolidations and additions of new equipment within the existing physical facility. B. Braun is implementing this plan and updating it annually to accommodate business changes.

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In 1993 when Second Harvest moved into an 18,000 sq. ft. facility in Allentown the thinking was that it was all the space they would ever need.  Over the years that facility had become quite cramped and with an additional 5,000+ square feet of offsite storage Second Harvest was bursting at the seams.  The lack of adequate storage forced Second Harvest to turn down offerings of food due to insufficient storage space.


espi partnered with Second Harvest to conduct a comprehensive assessment of all activities and storage needs.  espi provided a report identifying what space was required to meet current and future needs. The recommendation was for at least double the warehouse space and a massive (4-fold) increase in the cold storage capacity.


espi began the project by establishing an understanding of all facets of Second Harvest’s services from the dry goods storage, cold and frozen storage, as well as new programs like SUNShine boxes, Backpack Buddies, and Cooking Matters classes. espi also reviewed operations outside the facility and costs associated (rental fees, etc.) to provide business cases for consolidation of operations to a single location. Each facility was analyzed in each of the following categories:
  • Current Storage – Pallet Slots
  • Current Storage – # of Pallets
  • Receipts by Storage – Monthly Volume
  • Shopping Area
  • Warehouse – Racking and storage
  • Packing Area
Then, a review of the existing floor plans and CAD drawings was conducted to determine short-term improvements that could be made to the existing facility and incorporated into a new facility. These improvements were implemented while Second Harvest leadership evaluated warehouses to renovate or available land to design and build a facility that met their present and future needs. 2ndHarvest-2


Short-term results included improvements in the shopping area to gain additional pallet slots for product overflow. Visual identification was established in the warehouse area for increased safety and overall “Best Practices”. This also increased efficiency, safety code compliance and improved planning and resource utilization. Making the warehouse more efficient allowed for a reduction in the handling of material and delay times through easier location of product.

The long-term result was the purchase of a new facility located off Route 512 in Bath, making it accessible to many of the region’s major roadways and placing it in a more centralized location in the six-county region of the Second Harvest service area. espi reviewed the building structure and established an optimal layout of the operation.

The new facility provides Second Harvest with more than triple their previous square footage with ample space for a large freezer and cooler. A comfortable area for volunteers to work is also available while sufficient office space is now available for current and future staff. Loading and unloading has been made significantly easier with nine dock doors for shipping and receiving, including a drive-in ramp for vehicle loading in inclement weather, and plenty of area to help our member agencies when they come to pick up food orders.  
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