Cellular Flow Study and Plant Layout Significantly Impacts Production at Tank Technology


Tank Technology Inc.’s history dates back nearly 60 years and features employee-owners who have a mission to provide exceptional water heating products and service. Tank Technology manufactures high-quality tanks, porcelain-enameled components, pressure vessels and heat exchangers. The company also provides complete tank assemblies with foam insulation and outer steel jackets powder coated in custom colors. Tank Technology has about 50 employees at its facility in Princeton, Wisconsin.


Tank Technology is continuing to grow with a potential new product line being introduced soon. The company wants to improve the flow of product through three steps of the operation: shell, flue assembly and full tank assembly. Currently, Tank Technology is producing six to seven units on average per day and wants to improve that rate to a consistent eight units per day to meet the demands of its customer. Tank Technology would also like to incorporate a new product into this existing manufacturing cell.


WMEP Manufacturing Solutions consulted with the company on cellular/flow manufacturing, which links manual and machine operations in the most efficient combination to maximize value-added content and minimize waste. As a foundation for engaging the project team in thinking Lean, a training session was presented which simulates typical manufacturing processes and focuses on increasing the efficiency of the entire organization. This simulation took a comprehensive look at the interdependence of the systems, processes, and efficiencies of the organization to help participants see the big picture implications of their efforts. As part of the cellular flow project, WMEP utilized Value Stream Mapping and Plant Layout techniques. Value Stream Mapping assists in identifying the current flow of material and information in processes for a family of products, highlighting the opportunities for improvement that will most significantly impact overall production. Also, rearranging the plant, equipment and workstations into a cellular configuration better supports product streams, reduces work-in-process and allows the company more flexibility to address fluctuating demand.


  • Safer work environment
  • Quicker response time – reduced lead time from 14 days to 4 days
  • Reduced backlog by 60%
  • Positioned for growth
  • Consistently and predictably meets customer demand
  • Reduced overtime from 8-16 hours/week to fewer hours
  • Reduced rework from 80% of units to less than 10% of units
  • Improved material handling by reducing forklift dependence
  • Visual scheduling established using Kanban and Kanban Supermarkets
  • Retention of employees
  • World-Class process to impress customers

“With the help of WMEP we are positioned to be more competitive and able to support 8% forecasted growth.”

Adam Roehl, Plant Manager 

“We knew we needed to change, but we didn’t know how. WMEP helped us.”

Dan Church, Mfg. Engineer and Project Manager