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Supplier Spotlight: Oneida Air Systems Goes Lean
Oneida Air Systems, a manufacturer of dust collection systems, implemented lean manufacturing practices and improved product quality and production turnaround time.

By Staff
Date Posted: 6/1/2014

Oneida Air Systems has always been proud of the quality of its wood dust collection systems. But since implementing a lean manufacturing strategy, the company has produced even higher quality products with fast turnaround times.


                Oneida has been manufacturing industrial grade dust collection systems for smaller wood working operations since 1993. The company manufactures a wide variety of industrial dust collection systems from cyclonic industrial vacuum systems up to 30hp systems for heavy industry. It has systems for every application and shop size from the hobbyist to the most advanced wood products facility. All of its systems are made in America at its Syracuse, New York facility.

                For many years the company used traditional manufacturing methods. But several years ago company leadership began to learn about the benefits of lean manufacturing.

                “We started realizing that there were a lot better ways to do things,” said Jeffrey Hill, Oneida’s general manager.

                The company began looking into implementing lean strategies in its production facility and taking small steps to improve its processes. Then in 2011, company leaders decided to fully commit to the lean manufacturing process and hired a full-time, lean manufacturing expert.

                “We decided we wanted to take the place to a much higher level,” said Hill.

                Oneida now has its own lean manufacturing program called “PACE,” which stands for Productivity and Capacity Excellence. The implementation of the program has had dramatic results for the company, finding ways to cut out waste, streamline its operations and reduce overhead costs. One of the most visible benefits has been reducing the footprint of its manufacturing facility by over 60%, which has saved costs and increased workers’ efficiency, without losing any production volume.

                “We now operate in about one-third the square footage that we used to have,” said Hill. “But our overall volume and throughput continues to grow. The company’s getting bigger and bigger in sales and throughput, but our footprint on the floor is getting smaller and smaller.”

                With the smaller footprint, everything workers need is kept close by and they no longer waste time walking to another floor or the other side of the facility to retrieve parts or tools. Oneida has also reduced the inventory it keeps on hand and now produces smaller quantities to order, which has helped reduce defects and quality issues.

                “The more tangible thing for customers is the quality,” said Hill. “We’ve always prided ourselves on our quality, but what we’re finding now is that if and when a quality issue comes up, we catch it almost immediately. The guys on the line are trained and have the autonomy to ask questions or pull things up that are not correct and stop those problems from propagating down the line. For our customers, this translates to a much more consistent and high quality product.”

                Oneida’s customers have also benefited from more constant prices and fast turnaround time on orders.

                “It has allowed us to hold our costs much more constant even during the recession where other manufacturers have had to make more of an increase,” said Hill. “The other tangible for customers is that we’re just so much faster. We used to get backed up several weeks during our busy season, but now we ship out most orders in a matter of just a couple days.”

                For more information on Oneida’s air systems or lean manufacturing practices, visit http://www.oneida-air.com/ or call 800-732-4065.

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