GMD Surfaces is one of Chicago’s leading suppliers and fabricators of stone products, including granite, marble, quartzite, engineered stone, and more. GMD Surfaces works closely with residential and commercial customers to craft custom countertops, fireplaces, flooring, wall tile, and specialty items made to order.
Over the last two decades, GMD Surfaces has built a successful business by offering high-quality products, leveraging advanced technology and providing expert, meticulous craftsmanship.
However, the rapid growth in sales generated by increased demand for the company’s products created challenges in the factory and left production struggling to keep up.
In an effort to increase production capacity and efficiency, GMD Surfaces began exploring factory operating systems, ultimately choosing Amper, a fellow Chicago company.
Within the first five months of implementing Amper, GMD Surfaces saw improvements, including:
One thing big shops and small shops have in common is that using technology helps bring down costs and make operations leaner. Using Amper is one of the best ways to achieve that, because shops of all sizes want to run their machines as long and as efficiently as possible.
— Omar Chahin, CEO
While growth is good, GMD Surfaces’ rapid expansion not only revealed but exacerbated the weaknesses in its factory operations.
Although the company invested in additional machinery to increase capacity, it continued to face bottlenecks and unpredictable machine breakdowns.
“We noticed that as we grew bigger, it got increasingly harder to push utilization above 45%,” says owner Omar Chahin. “We failed to get the ROI we were hoping for—and because we weren’t tracking productivity, we couldn’t figure out why.”
In addition, there was concern that the lack of transparency left workers unmotivated and led to unnecessary overtime hours.
The sluggish production created a domino effect, stalling the cutting, fabrication, and installation teams and slowing the order fulfillment process.
Recognizing that they needed visibility into their production process, GMD Surfaces launched an initiative to evaluate factory operating systems and vendors. After comparing options, GMD Surfaces chose Amper.
“We partnered with Amper,” says Chahin, “because their system is easy to set up and implement. It relies on non-invasive equipment that works wirelessly and requires no integration, all at a competitive price.”
GMD Surfaces was also interested in the added benefit that Amper’s maintenance module brings in preventing unplanned machine downtime because of crashes.
The stone manufacturer took advantage of Amper’s risk-free and cost-free pilot program, working with the implementation team to plan a phased rollout.
“The rollout began with just two machines for the first two months,” says Talal Mufti, Operations Manager at GMD Surfaces.
“Then, for another two months," Mufti continues, "we started using the operator interface and maintenance module to manage maintenance tasks and assign them to operators. Once we saw positive results, we expanded company-wide.”
Almost immediately, GMD Surfaces’ overall utilization improved. In under 5 months, the baseline of 43% rose to 55%. GMD Surfaces’ Titan—which started at 43%—rose to 63% during that time period.
Furthermore, by taking advantage of Amper's unique features, GMD Surfaces realized a number of benefits, including:
In addition, Amper’s production data allowed GMD Surfaces to undertake several continuous improvement projects that further reduced downtime, including:
Changing the shop layout to increase staging space
Downtime labeling revealed that significant holdups were caused by material missing from the staging area. By changing the layout—allowing more space to stage and prep material—GMD Surfaces boosted utilization by 11%.
Adding bridge cranes to speed machine loading
Downtime data also revealed that operators were often idle while waiting for help loading and unloading machines. GMD Surfaces added bridge cranes to some machines, allowing operators to load and unload their machines independently, boosting utilization by 9%.
Now, GMD Surfaces has real-time access to the intelligence it needs to maximize efficiency and lower labor costs. Within the first five months of implementation, the company:
Chahin says, “Although we drastically improved production costs, we’re still working on improving efficiency and reducing overtime.”
He continues to say, “One thing big shops and small shops have in common is that using technology helps bring down costs and make operations leaner. Using Amper is one of the best ways to achieve that because shops of all sizes want to run their machines as long and as efficiently as possible.”
Today, GMD Surfaces’ factory is better positioned to keep pace with sales and has the tracking tools in place to engage in continuous improvement activities—while averting future growing pains. All while remaining lean, which is crucial in today’s economy.