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Cutting Tool Manufacturer Shaves Set-up Time Dramatically


Robb Jack benefits from Sierra College CACT Process Improvement Training

ROCKLIN — Although at first skeptical at taking time off the job to assess manufacturing processes, employees at Lincoln’s Robb Jack (, a manufacturer of premium rotary cutting tools, reduced machine set up time from 90 to 30 minutes and are eagerly seeking new ways to boost productivity. The impact of the Lean Manufacturing training, provided by the Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT), is dramatic according to president, Dave Baker.

“If nine CNC milling machines are set up twice per day on new jobs, we’ve saved 18 hours per day,” said Baker. “This allows Robb Jack to expand capacity without capital investment or adding staff. Robb Jack is 100% employee owned, so we all benefit from growing the business with existing resources. What we learned from Sierra College CACT could completely change our company.”

The project started with an initial site visit and assessment by Sierra College CACT trainer Jes Vargas who explained that Lean Manufacturing is a set of tools that can be applied to business processes to identify waste and increase productivity. “After the first several hours, our employees began to look at standard procedures with fresh eyes,” said Baker. “We began to see the potential for improving our processes and enhancing efficiency.”

After that meeting, three employee teams formed to attack the areas that had the greatest potential for savings. At Vargas’ suggestion, the Set-up Team filmed one of the company’s top operators to record each step in making adjustments on a machine to run a new job. “Just watching him started to give us ideas,” said Baker. “Then we viewed the movie and mapped out a flow chart of all the steps required to change from one operation to another.” The team experimented until they cut set up time by two-thirds.

The results are definitely having impact according to Baker. “We are so excited about what our employees have been able to do that the Set-up Team is giving a presentation to the whole company of nearly 100 employees,” said Baker. Other departments have seen how it worked and the initial three Lean teams have grown to seven, including one group that is analyzing the sales process. “As Lean spreads through our building, I can see amazing opportunities for Robb Jack to grow.”

In addition to on-site customized employee training in process improvement, Sierra College CACT is developing Lean to Green training to help manufacturers cut energy costs. Other training topics include high-tech soldering, supervision, communication, business math and project management. Since 1992, Sierra College CACT has worked with businesses, manufacturers and technology companies in Northern California. For more information, go to or contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge at 916-660-7801 or

Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies and Economic and Workforce Development
(916) 660-7801
Sierra College Training & Development
Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT)
  Placer, Nevada and parts of El Dorado and Sacramento Counties
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