TREK, INC.

TREK, INC. executives pose for a picture.

TREK, INC., outgrew its facility in Medina, NY. The electronic instruments maker – whose global customers are primarily from the electrophotography, semiconductor and research industries – faced an inefficient manufacturing flow. The machine shop was cramped, teetering on the edge of being unsafe. Power restrictions were surfacing and the ability to build larger products was stifled. After acknowledging the need for a headquarters relocation, leaders resolved to prime the new facility for operational success. They contacted the University at Buffalo to obtain “far superior” expertise in optimal layout design than was possible with internal resources strapped for time. With aid of a State University of New York grant that provides technical assistance to companies – the Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR) program – work completed by an Industrial and Systems Engineering professor and students impacted the decision to lease part of the former Harrison Radiator building in Lockport. The UB team’s thorough approach and flexibility were so impressive that university resources and SPIR were tapped for another project, this time helping to determine the future location and facility layout of subsidiary supplier Torrent EMS.

The Approach

  • Applied the principled industrial engineering approach of systematical layout planning to the first project, which involved:
    • Collecting data, including analysis of current operations, flow, and capacity and space
    • Surveying departments about problems and potential solutions
    • Devising numerous layout alternatives for both a new build and already existing facility
    • Comparing layouts with quantitative methods to determine estimated performance improvement
    • Conducting a thorough analysis of two chosen layout alternatives
  • Performed an extensive cost analysis for the second project, which focused on whether to expand at Torrent’s Orchard Park facility or move operations to Trek’s Lockport site, and produced departmental level layouts for the chosen solution

The Impact

  • Determined ideal department placements based on an interaction study
  • Eliminated concern about large structural pillars at the Harrison facility by incorporating them into the design
  • Supplied an optimal layout, which served as the architect’s and general contractor’s foundation for revamping the Harrison facility
  • Shortened production cycle times in the manufacturing area
  • Bolstered safety with improved lighting and a room designated for product testing
  • Catalyzed Trek Board of Directors’ quick decision to move Torrent after a presentation loaded with data-driven metrics
  • Developed a final layout accommodating Torrent operations by adjusting the design implemented after the first project
  • Provided the City of Lockport with a showcase for adaptively reusing a historic building