• Joe Rizzo. Director of the New England Lean

Recap: Plant Tour of Mercury Wire

The New England Lean Consortium held its February Meeting at Mercury Wire in Spencer, MA. This was a plant tour of a company that is recognized for its advanced lean program. Mercury Wire was one of the Plant Tours for the AME Annual Conference in Boston in 2017. This tour was highly attended and highly rated.

The NELC is not so naïve as to think that all the Lean best practices reside in the members of the New England Lean Consortium. From time to time, the NELC visits non-member companies that have demonstrated Excellence on their Lean journey.

Mercury Wire has a unique and intriguing philosophy which they state as; “Saving Humanity from Business as Usual.” This saying piqued my interest and the interest of the other attendees on the tour. More from the company website at: mercurywire.com

Custom Cables Made Simple Mercury Wire is a lean manufacturer of high-value custom wire, cable and engineered assemblies. Our dedicated teams help our customer's solve unique challenges while forming lasting relationships.

Your Journey Starts Here Mercury Wire exclusively develops custom cable and electronic assembly solutions for customers across a variety of industries and markets worldwide. Our manufacturing facility is conveniently located in central Massachusetts with easy access to major roadways and points of export. Since our humble beginnings in a garage over half a century ago, we continue to operate under the belief that there are always opportunities to improve how we deliver value to our customers.

As a family owned and operated company, Mercury Wire can dynamically align both its structure and processes to meet your specific needs. This flexibility allows us to maximize the value we add and help reduce unnecessary waste by optimizing both manufacturing processes and layout to help ensure you receive the highest quality product at the lowest possible price. Our long-term, holistic view in building mutually beneficial relationships starts with you. We thoroughly research the challenges you're trying to overcome - going beyond a list of product specifications to fully understand your unique opportunities and business goals. Together, we create a vision for a comprehensive solution that suits your needs and moves your business forward.”

Saving Humanity from Business as Usual Our evolution from a traditional manufacturing company to a learning organization is built on innovation, lean business strategies, and empowerment. At Mercury Wire, everyone has a direct impact on the creation of value and the success of our organization. This not only results in higher quality products and services, but also creates an enriched work environment that advances our mission to create greater value with greater velocity by enabling a people-centric culture based on mutual respect, curiosity and continuous learning. Mercury Wire also recognizes its role as global citizens and strives to enhance the value we create within our surrounding community through increased emphasis on social responsibility and sustainability. Through the Mercury Wire Foundation, we support numerous endeavors with particular focus on those that empower people through learning and personal growth.

Mercury Wire’s future plans include continuing to develop our lean business strategies, building relationships with customers old and new, and growing our unique, team-based learning culture. When the focus is on continuous improvement, the journey never ends.

Being a family owned business affords the company the opportunity to develop their own business philosophy and develop their own culture. We saw that with Gem Gravure and their business philosophy patterned after “The Ambulance in the Valley”, and at Colonial Mills, whose business model is patterned on the book, “The Great Game of Business”.

Mercury Wire has developed a set of thirty (30) True North Fundamentals that guide their journey. They are thirty fundamental behaviors that bring value to life. They are the daily expression of their unique culture. One fundamental per week is discussed at daily Gemba meetings.

The initial interview for a prospective employee asks them to pick three fundamentals they find easy and three they find hard and to explain why. Having this discussion helps determine if there is a good fit to Mercury’s culture.

The second interview discusses background, experience and skills, with an emphasis on finding candidates with a Growth Mindset.

Mercury Wire practices their own form of Kata, with the following set of questions.

• What is the Target Condition? • What is the Current State? • What Problem or Opportunity is Our Focus? • What is the next step?

The production area for Mercury Wire is arranged in cells for specific product lines. The company puts a lot of focus on line balancing and quick changeover. As a result, there is minimum WIP and changeovers from one product to another were measured in seconds, not minutes or hours.

With a strong partnership with its customers, the operators of the equipment and the cells were in direct contact with the customer for schedules, problems, and any other issue that may come up. At the end of each cell there was a “supermarket” of finished goods, from which the company can ship on a day’s notice.

The operators were also in direct contact with the suppliers for materials and did their own purchasing. The management of the company has a lot of trust and respect for all of their employees.

The two brothers who own and run the company are Robert Yard and Christopher Yard. Together, they have built and grown a very strong company for today and tomorrow. With their focus on continual learning and continual improvement, the company is very successful.