ReportAir Magazine

Incremental steps for a continuous improvement

Optimizing for growth

To help overcome the new challenges and meet the new demands, a new production manager was appointed in May 2018. We asked Csaba Kelemen, Airvent’s production manager, about the changes of this past three years, with its challenges, and successes.

At Airvent, we are proud to have a great variety of products covering the majority of demands, as well as advanced system solutions found in modern ventilation system. The range includes air handling units, chilled beams, sound attenuators, air volume controllers, supply and extract air diffusers, automatic controllers, software, as well as other accessories. During the past few years we have seen exponential sales growth on both the domestic and export markets. Various new and large projects have brought many new challenges, which have required creative thinking from all our production engineers, product designers and sales team, as well as, the production management team.


How did you get in contact with Airvent?

In 2013 Airvent approached the company I worked for, as they had big plans to improve their production systems and processes to meet current and future customer demand. Airvent wanted to do this in a healthy way, making sure that the company and its coworkers can simultaneously operate efficiently during the changes. One of the first tasks was to understand the situation and processes at the time and shed light on the most important areas that we could improve, coupled with a detailed action plan on how to achieve our objectives.

What was the mission of this particular project?

The objective of the project was to select a product group that was being produced in large volumes, where we objectively as a team saw great room for improvement. We decided on the plenum box series TK. At the time of our investigation there was a team of around 20 people manufacturing approximately 750 boxes a week – this included the work done on the plain sheets to the packaging of the final product. Together with the management team, group leaders and factory workers we developed new production flows and processes and created the first production unit or cell based on the 5 basic principles of LEAN. Using a production unit does not only allow for the space needed for production to be reduced, and thus for the lead time of a product to be significantly decreased, but it also makes it possible to adjust and allocate resources in a flexible manner so that they better meet the demand at any given time. The result of our work was a capacity increase of 150%, around 1800 boxes produced a week, with a team of 15 people. In addition to increasing production efficiency by 2,5x, the production area was also decreased by 20-30% while the level of mid-inventory was decreased by 30-40%.


Csaba Kelemen

production manager

Graduating as an IT teacher, and going on to have several degrees as a mechanical-, timber- and quality engineer. Csaba has worked in various settings including 10 years at a multinational company and 4 years as a lean moderator (Lean Black Belt)He is a proud father of two boys, enjoys sports and is an avid fisherman.

How large has the changes been in the production since you took over?

As mentioned earlier, the production lost a lot of valuable time due to connected activities being located in different areas of the plant. The main objective with the reform was obviously to solve this, although the optimization of each area is still ongoing. The goal is to have minimize sources of losses, decrease inventories, and improve lead times across the board for all products.

Has projects such as the above continued in some form?

Yes, we have started to transform basically all other production areas as well, and we have selected a holistic approach. We have created a product VSM¬VSD (Value Stream Map & Design) map, which highlights all current minor and major issues in the production. We currently manufacture several product groups in Kanban system, in other words we control production and procurement “on demand”. This ensures maximum availability even with low inventory. Due to these new processes and systems, we can guarantee flexible delivery times to our partners.

Work environment

In 2019, Airvent also set up an area specifically focused on assembling the Plex air handling units, why was this necessary?

The popularity of our air handling unit has been growing steadily since its launch in 2012. With new and improved generations of units, the increase in orders we reached a new milestone where we had to establish new production cells in order to sustain our lead times. Compact air handling units are manufactured in a Kanban system, and the minimum amount of parts in stock is determined based on sales data provided by our sales team. Currently, we are able to complete AltiPlex orders in 2-3 weeks, which is incredibly quick based on customer feedback.

And the production machinery is also constantly expanding.

Yes, our improved performance the past couple of years are greatly facilitated by these investments. This year, we purchased a Mazak laser cutter and two NC bending machines. The investments have a positive effect on the optimization of value streams, since we can bring sheet metal processing closer to the delivery of the finished product.


The growing demand for our Plex air handling units will soon require moving the production line to a new facility.

How has factory administration changed with the introduction of lean?

Previously, three administrators recorded daily quantities that were reported by workers in eight-hour days - that’s about 1,000 to 1,200 datapoints per day. The hourly performances were collected by team leaders once a day and handed over to the administrators. The LPMS (Lean Performance Management System) provides continuous feedback on the current level of production. Employees record the data themselves on an hourly basis, so they can visually track the production and in the event of a problem or disruption, the team leader can take immediate action. The introduction of a daily performance bonus is proving to be worthwhile as it is not uncommon that each team performs above the expected daily volume.

Why was it necessary to introduce the 2bin system?

Preliminary surveys revealed that on average, one in five workers left the production area for one hour due to the depletion of stocks of necessary production parts. We introduced the 2bin system to avoid this, which means that two boxes (one red and one green, the color of the box indicates the need for refilling) with the required parts and overheads in each area must be available. If one of the boxes is empty, i.e. your stock goes into the red bar, a refill is required. The filling is solved by the so-called “milk-run” technique, meaning a worker collects all the red boxes and fills them. This takes a person an hour and a half, twice a day and the results are that the productive workers no longer need to leave the production area in the absence of necessary parts.

Brief introduction to the methods of Lean


Kanban (Japanese: meaning signboard or billboard) is a lean method to manage and improve work across human systems. This approach aims to manage work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of system-level bottlenecks. 


Lean encourages the practice of continuous improvement and is based on the fundamental idea of respect for people. The five principles are:

  1. Defining value from our customers viewpoint.
  2. Mapping the value stream by putting our customers in focus.
  3. Creating optimum flow for smooth processes and activities.
  4. Using a pull system for just-in-time deliveries.
  5. Continuous improvement for an overall better system.


The PDCA or Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a continuous loop of planning, doing, checking (or studying), and acting. It provides a simple and effective approach for solving problems and managing change.

Will the goals set for 2019 be met?

For 2019, we set up a so-called PDM (Policy Deployment Matrix) with the management and the plant management team. The essence of which is to break down the company's strategic goals into territorial tasks. With this matrix we were able to sort and weight the tasks ahead in terms of the extent to which they contribute to the achievement of the set-out objectives. The goals included, for example, the design of different production cells (diffusers, chilled beams), increase overall efficiency, application of the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) problem solving and introduction of the Kanban system in other areas (chilled beams, ventilators). We would be very happy if we could finalize the optimization of the value streams for our chilled beams by the end of 2019, as nearly 10,000 pieces of products leave the factory each year.

What tasks await the factory in the coming years?

In general, we want to consolidate the principles of lean and make the system a natural part of everyday life. There are still some areas that need to be revised. We are pleased to see that the sales trend for air handling units has increased significantly this year. However, this also means that due to lack of space we will soon have to move the Plex production area to another hall. We are looking forward to the year 2020, as the larger extent of setting up an ERP system 

What task will Airvent workers have in this?

To help system developers review processes and to propose ideas on how it can be optimized. The success of the system to be implemented depends to a large extent on the accuracy and on the conscience of the collaborators. We are trying to provide as much support as possible to make this collaboration as effective as possible. In my opinion, the biggest advantage of introducing the system is the reduction of administrative work. This will make our work more efficient and introduce a monolingual communication between different departments due to merging databases. Of course, we must keep in mind that the system is completely new to our employees (we have many older workers who have a harder time managing the advances in technology). Therefore, our goal is to create user-friendly solutions.

What do you think is the key to success?

Production management comes with a huge responsibility. Customer needs require constant renewal of solutions and introduce challenges that my team and I want to accomplish to the fullest. One key to success was that in a year and a half we have managed to build a terrific team with whom we can ensure the company's competitiveness in production. I am confident that with my knowledge and expertise, I will be able to strengthen Airvent for a long time to come.

— Kecskemét, Hungary 2019.