D&K Engineering Inc.
Issue May Jun 15
Everybody in manufacturing has heard about kaizen, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma and continuous improvement philosophies. But what do they really do?
At D&K Engineering, the company utilizes the latest in manufacturing theories in a practical way, day-to-day, so everybody can understand.
“We use a lot of the typical terminology and methodologies you have heard of before such as lean and kaizen, but we seek to demystify them,” says Dan O’Leary, vice president of manufacturing operations. “We utilize these tools in a way that everybody can apply them. Anybody can attend a kaizen event. We go a little further than that.”
For example, the company holds internal mini-kaizen events, which results in minimizing steps in the manufacturing line. This focus has also led to increased capacity for large products such as producing ecoATM kiosks, which are machines placed at shopping malls and grocery stores that purchase used electronics and smartphones from customers.
Founded in 2000, D&K Engineering is a global leader in end-to-end research and development, product development and manufacturing services for high-innovation content, hardware-based products and equipment, the company says. With world-class research, development and manufacturing talent, state-of-the-art product realization processes and a global infrastructure and supply chain, D&K Engineering helps companies become leaders in their industries by designing and manufacturing breakthrough hardware-based products that lead to profitable, enduring lines of business.
Clients in diverse, economically significant industries recognize D&K Engineering’s value and expertise. D&K Engineering has developed special market-leading expertise in the following markets:
- > Industrial/commercial
- > Self-service kiosks
- > Printing
- > Medical/life sciences
- > Military
D&K Engineering’s 130,000-square-foot facility in San Diego employs more than 350 people. The company also has an R&D and manufacturing location in Singapore.
“We are a relatively large organization but we keep the hierarchy very flat,” O’Leary says. “This facilitates better communication throughout the organization so when improvements need to be made, things happen very quickly.”
Management also is very accessible, without multiple layers of bureaucracy. “Management is very approachable. We don’t have lots of layers and staff to go through to make decisions and implement improvements,” O’Leary says.
Happy Workforce, Happy Clients
D&K Engineering has developed hundreds of patents on behalf of clients. The company’s established, proven relationships with qualified domestic and international suppliers help it stay ahead of the curve, keeping up with the explosive demand for leading-edge products in the medical/life science, printing, kiosk and military markets.
More than 90 percent of D&K Engineering’s commercial products designed and developed have been successfully taken to market. The company prides itself on its timely, repeatable, predictable and high-quality performance. It also offers competitive pricing, the company says.
All of this results in a happy workforce. “One of our clients was in here the other day and remarked that we have the happiest assemblers he has ever seen,” O’Leary relates. Part of the reason for this is that senior managers “know their names and have social events to connect with them,” O’Leary says. “The owners spend time on the manufacturing floor.”
With a core set of best practices and industry knowledge that spans the entire product development lifecycle, D&K Engineering mobilizes the right people, processes, tools and infrastructure to create and deliver sustainable business value to organizations seeking to outsource the design, development and manufacturing of their equipment or products.
Culture of Collaboration
The team is carefully selected for optimal performance. “A lot of the folks we get in here are referrals from current employees,” O’Leary explains.
“We are pretty selective about who we choose, including assemblers and operators. We have a very competent, super manufacturing staff.”
The culture of collaboration also includes D&K’s expert engineers who design the many products that D&K develops. The D&K engineering staff is one of the most-seasoned groups of engineers, with decades of experience and hundreds of patents. This experience set has been honed through numerous development programs that have gone to market. This expertise fosters close collaboration across all functions. “Everyone gets to know the guys on the manufacturing floor because of the culture of collaboration here,” says Diane Law, vice president of marketing.
The culture at D&K allows for optimal performance. “We are constantly collaborating so everybody can provide feedback and input,” O’Leary describes. “That is what I mean when I say we ‘demystify’ lean manufacturing. All that lean stuff is great, but you can also get a long way with simple transparency between departments with active and fluid communication.”
In addition to its internal dynamics, the company also supports the larger manufacturing industry. D&K Engineering supports National Manufacturing Day, an open forum for manufacturers to open their doors and show what today’s manufacturing is and what it is not.
D&K Engineering’s product-realization plan is its process for success. “We have a clearly documented product-realization plan D&K has developed,” O’Leary states. “It is our design recipe to take a product from whiteboard to the end-customer. It goes from designing on a napkin to delivering a complex device.”
The internal, state-of-the-art product-realization process is the DNA of the D&K culture. Each program goes through specifically designed steps as it moves through commercialization. The steps have specific, clearly defined deliverables. These items are reviewed and checked off before the program moves on to its next deliverables.
“The whole process increases the viability of a product, getting it to market faster,” Law says.
“D&K Engineering delivers end-to-end product development and manufacturing services as well as focused projects to address a specific client need anywhere along the product development lifecycle,” the company says. “Start-ups to multibillion-dollar corporations engage D&K Engineering at various points in the product development process and subsequently obtain deliverables ranging from concept designs and analysis and prototypes to a fully manufactured product.”
The key is not only quality, scheduling and cost, but also teamwork. “It is all about exceeding expectations,” O’Leary says. “Going the extra mile is how you keep clients. That’s what we do every day.”