ERP Software Enables Continuous Improvements for Automotive Supplier


Big Ideas Lead to Big Savings

GR Spring and Stamping's employees generated a total of 8,450 implemented continuous improvement ideas, saving them $1.2 million.

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Big Ideas Lead to Big Savings

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Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping: Continuous improvement through the enterprise. A supplier to the automotive industry, Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping is acknowledged as an industry leader in the manufacturing of metal stampings, value-added assemblies, springs, and slide-formed products.

Since the business began as Grand Rapids Spring & Wire in 1960, the mindset that continuous improvement is necessary for the company to survive has been institutionalized into its day-to-day work processes. Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping is an innovator that leverages technology to work as efficiently as possible, while also expecting and encouraging process improvements from every member of the team.

Employees have a shared vision, and everyone is focused on contributing ideas to promote continuous improvement for a basic and fundamental reason; they believe it is the difference between thriving in a competitive marketplace, not just surviving. Expectations are that every employee has valuable input and suggestions for improvement that benefit the company and ensure its continued success.


One of the biggest benefits of our program is creating a shared vision. We want every one of our employees to be focused on improvements on a daily basis. We know that what we did yesterday won’t be good enough today, and what we do today won’t be good enough tomorrow. Creating a shared vision is our Number 1 priority; having everyone focused on improvements. Tracking this in the World-Class Idea Program and Plex enables us to do that.


The program that Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping has developed is called the World-Class Idea, WCI, Program, and it was responsible for an impressive 8,450 improvements over a 12-month period. The Continuous Improvement Program’s goal is to make small, incremental improvements in 5 main categories: quality, cost, delivery, safety, and morale.

Employees at Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping use Plex Online for all of its ERP functions, from the shop floor to the top floor. To submit a suggestion, the associate saves it via a Plex Online dialog box. This dialog box enables easy entry of a suggestion, provides a dropdown selection defining whether it is a cost-saving improvement or related to morale, safety, or other issues. It includes a dialog box for a brief description and includes reference to a financial incentive. All suggestions are reviewed by supervisors on a weekly basis to determine if they qualify and to ensure no duplicate ideas are entered.


Really, the culture begins with our Chairman and our President, Jim Zawacki and Merle Emery. They are strong supporters of the program. Jim brought the program to Spring & Stamping back in the early ‘90s, late-‘80s. We’ve been at this for almost 20 years. We’re pretty proud of it and we do realize that it’s really an important part of growing and succeeding today.


Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping understands that it’s necessary to encourage WCIs by frequently reminding employees of their importance to the company’s fiscal health. Even small gains are celebrated, and the staff is encouraged to think about improvement possibilities from the moment they enter the door. There aren’t many improvements that will result in savings of $100,000, but you can eventually achieve that level of savings when $5 to $10 savings are added up over a year. The company reminds everyone that the road to success is not doing one thing 100% better, it’s doing 100 things 1% better.

Here are just a few world-class ideas from employees.


Some of the biggest results that we have are the smallest ideas, $5 improvements, $10 improvements, and those are really what drives an improvement. Most recently we were awarded the Michigan Manufacturer of the Year, and we talk about how, really, it was everybody’s participation that helps us drive out waste through improvements on a daily basis. We’ve also received some great awards from our customers: Nissan, Toyota, and Denso have all awarded GR Spring & Stamping with supplier excellence awards.


A world-class organization. Establishing and nurturing the World Class Ideas Program at Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping help them achieve world-class results. The company has received many awards from their customers and created an environment where employees are part of the team, and everyone contributes to encouraging excellence in the workplace.

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