Work Area Protection (WAPCO) of St. Charles, IL invented a retractable crash barrier that not only provides superior safety to alternative roadway barriers but can also be repaired in a fraction of the time at minimal cost. They were searching for a contract manufacturing partner that could handle the size and volume of the crash barrier and had the ability to consistently reproduce the complex design. WAPCO was also interested in finding a partner that could help streamline production and improve inventory management, in addition to being strategically located in the Midwest. They learned about Lou-Rich (Albert Lea, MN) through a connection of Jeff Smith, WAPCO’s VP of Specialty products and inventor of the retractable crash barrier. He heard that Lou-Rich was highly responsive, easy to work with and more than capable of pulling off a project of this magnitude.
Lou-Rich reviewed the sophisticated crash attenuator, and through a robust Design-for-Manufacturability process, considered every aspect of how to best manufacture the product. From cutting to welding to material management, the team found ways to help streamline the process. Leveraging the use of advanced laser cutting and robotic welding, significant gains in efficiency were achieved, while delivering consistently high-quality welds. Even the process for drilling holes has transitioned to laser for increased precision. A marking system developed by the team minimizes the possibility of mistakes during assembly. Lou-Rich also manages inventory on both the front end for materials needed in production and on the back-end for storing the large finished units.
The mistake-proof process consistently delivers high-quality products. According to WAPCO, since having Lou-Rich manage inventory it is experiencing a 66% reduction in lead times for some parts.