BLUFFTON —Imagine a life without leftovers. At breakfast, lunch and dinner, you cook exactly what you need, every time. No extra servings to put in the refrigerator. No waste.
It’s a Japanese manufacturing philosophy called “just in time,” and it’s practiced by the Japanese-owned DTR Industries in Bluffton, which produces anti-vibration automotive rubber products for Toyota, Honda and Nissan vehicles.
“We don’t have any inventory buildup,” said plant supervisor Tom Eisenman. “We’re making everything day by day.”
On the floor, there’s a heavy, rhythmic banging, as if a giant were taking a slow, purposeful walk. It’s a 500 ton press that’s stamping out the beginnings of engine mounts and other components. The entire plant runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We’re doing the same thing at 7 o’clock in the morning as we are at 7 o’clock at night,” said human resources specialist Keah Egbert.
The plant is fully automated, with robots doing work that perhaps would take six or seven people to do, Eisenman said. Even so, DTR Industries is one of Allen County’s largest employers, with more than 600 employees. Its top priority is to get the car makers they serve the parts they need, when they need them.
“Things get hectic at times because you have to make those shipments,” said Eisenman. “If you don’t make those shipments, you shut down Honda, Nissan, you shut down a whole assembly line. And that’s not good.”
Reach Amy Eddings at 567-242-0379 or Twitter @lima_eddings.