Thursday, February 23, 2012

California to update Title 20

According to a recent article by Scott Webb in the online version of Aqua Magazine, the California Energy Commission is scheduled to open proceedings to consider updating the 2008 energy efficiency standards known as "Title 20." This will be an open project with calls for public written comments and hearings. More information to follow as events develop.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hayward Plant Tour

filter production
filter assembly
EcoStar assembly
Today UPA chapter 31 took a tour of Hayward's manufacturing plant in Pomona, California. Here are some pictures from the tour.

All the plastic pieces start out as small plastic pellets. A vacuum hose sucks them up and injects them into a mold.

Each part (an impeller, pump housing, or filter tank) has a specially designed (and largely robotic) machine that produces it. All the machines for a single product are located in the same area of the factory. When Hayward has an order for more of a certain product (like a filter, a pump, or cleaner), they can restart that line in as little as twenty minutes and start making more of these.

Years ago, Hayward would make and then warehouse several parts and whole goods. They had about 6 warehouses in the Pomona area alone. In the last several years, in an effort to become leaner, Hayward went to a manufacturing method pioneered by Toyota in Japan. It generally goes by the name "just in time manufacturing." Now Hayward warehouses very few parts. When they have an order, they start up that section of the line and make the goods to order.

The Pomona plant makes TriStar Pumps, EcoStar Pumps, Filters, and several different Pool Vacs in the Hayward line. If you have any of these Hayward products, they came from this Pomona plant. While Hayward also has plants in New Jersey, Tennessee, and Europe, these other plants all make different products. No two plants make the same product.

Hayward is continually looking to improve production. To do this, they employ a method called kaizen (Japanese for "improvement", or "change for the better"). Their kaizen process consists of a multi day brainstorming session where managers, engineers, and line workers work to make part of the production process better. According to Tony, the plant production manager, some improvement always comes out of this process--sometimes it is a big change, other times it is something small.

It is clear that Hayward takes kaizen seriously. Each work station is the product of significant planning and improvement. The end result is an ergonomically designed plant. The line workers seem to appreciate these efforts as is evidenced by their relatively long tenure. The average Hayward employee has worked there for 8 years and many have worked there more than 20 years.

Our tour ended at Hayward's test pool--a pool and spa combination with color changing LED lights, a cleaner, and several different pumps, filter, and heater setups including their new ASME certified commercial heater and a heat pump.