Fleet Engineers, Inc.

Success with The Center

FLEET ENGINEERS: Driving Forward With Lean

The Center-West provided Save-A-Load valuable tools and resources for the development of new team members, as well as assistance in continuous improvement of current team members. The new perspective, training procedures implemented and key measures will help us get to that next level and also make a more knowledgeable and productive work force.
-- Kerry Gibbs Production Supervisor

Fleet Engineers is a small, privately held manufacturing company of 145 employees that has been in Muskegon, Michigan for 54 years. Fleet Engineers produces a wide variety of products for the Heavy Truck and Trailer markets in North America. The products vary from light to heavy stampings, large injection molded parts, wood fabrication, weldments, roll-forming, tube fabrications and various light assembly items. The company has three production facilities and one warehouse building on their campus and the total square footage between the four facilities totals 280,000 sq. ft.


For Fleet Engineers to continue to have sales growth, part of their growth strategy was through the acquisition of smaller companies. The goal was to find companies with complementing products that would fit within the product scope they were offering to the heavy truck market.

In December 2015, Fleet Engineers purchased the Save-A-Load Company located in Charlotte, North Carolina, a manufacturer of cargo load bar systems. They moved the company from North Carolina to Muskegon in June 2017 and needed to hire, train and certify a new production work force.

Fleet Engineers reached out to Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West for help and assistance in identifying resources that could help them in this new employee development.


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Leveraging the Center’s experience in employee training and development, Fleet Engineers began their training with a Ground Zero workshop that introduced all employees to a Lean transformation strategy. From there, the company received on-site training, working with the new production work force to develop standard operation practices with work instructions, set-up instructions, the development and use of visual management boards, plant team suggestion system, safety recording system, continuous improvement and root cause development training.

Through this process, Fleet Engineers was able to get their production team, at the load bar plant, trained and following standard work practices that were consistent with improved operational output from what was being performed in North Carolina.


  • The overall daily output of hydraulic units built went from 200 units per day to 232 units per day for a 16% increase in production output. This is an increase of 8,000 units annually.
  • The Hoop build had a 15% increase in the number of parts produced per hour.
  • The Tube fabrication area had a 10% increase in the number of parts produced per hour.
  • The total productivity output gain in the department is the equivalent of 1.12 man hours per day per employee for an overall fully burdened labor gain/cost savings of $158,230 annually.
  • All of the production processes and set-up instructions have been documented and saved for current and future training of employees. Prior to working with Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West, the production operations from Charlotte, NC were not documented. This documentation has been very important for the production operations.
  • The 5-S training, implementing and monitoring has been very important in reducing the amount of time spent finding tools and components. Although the amount of down-time was not being recorded in North Carolina for a comparison, this has saved on lost down-time every day.
  • Using the Red-Cross safety recording system in each of the work cells has heightened the awareness of safety in the plant and is something that is discussed daily. Prior to this, safety was not part of the discussions in the production areas. This heightened awareness will result in employees taking the precautions to keep themselves safer in their work areas.