Innovation Summit Recognizes PeopleFlo for Leadership Innovation

Innovation Summit Recognizes PeopleFlo for Leadership Innovation

PeopleFlo Manufacturing was recognized at the second annual Innovation Summit, presented by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and World Business Chicago.

The summit drew close to 600 members of the Chicago business community to Navy Pier on October 25. Attendees heard authors John Kao and Rosabeth Moss Kanter deliver compelling messages about why innovation is crucial to our economy and how it can be achieved.

IIT visits PeopleFlo to discuss Nomination for the Leadership Innovation Recognition. (left to Right) Dr. Jamal Yagoobi, Chairman, Mechanical, Materials & Aerospace Engineering Illinois Institute of Technology; Clark Shafer, PeopleFlo; Dr. Keith McKee, Director of Manufacturing Programs, Illinois Institute of Technology; Radosav Trninich, PeopleFlo; Jason Sexton, PeopleFlo

Dr. Jamal Yagoobi (Chairman, Mechanical, Materials & Aerospace Engineering Illinois Institute of Technology) and Dr. Keith McKee (Director of Manufacturing Programs, Illinois Institute of Technology) nominated PeopleFlo for recognition at the Innovation Summit. Specifically, PeopleFlo was recognized in the category of Leadership Innovation for developing and implementing a new business model, new business processes and products.

“We are pleased and grateful to receive this recognition from the Chicago business community,” said William Blankemeier, President of PeopleFlo. “And we very much appreciate the ideas and suggestions from a wide range of business leaders that will help us continue to improve our innovation skills.

To view the complete text of Dr. Keith McKee’s (Director of Manufacturing Programs, Illinois Institute of Technology) description of innovation at PeopleFlo, see the narrative below or click here:

PeopleFlo Builds Future on Lean Manufacturing’s Promise

PeopleFlo has designed itself as a proving ground for lean-manufacturing techniques, with processes enabling both easy customization and just-in-time production planning.

With many prognosticators predicting doom for the U.S. industrial economy, it can be rare to find investors excited to participate in a manufacturing startup. PeopleFlo, a four-year-old newcomer, is, well, flowing against that current as it seeks to gain a foothold in the $300 million market for chemical-plant pumps. The company also offers a dream scenario for the lean-manufacturing proponents who make up its management and board, who see promise in the opportunity to build a new kind of industrial facility from the ground, up.

Product-centered plant design

PeopleFlo began with the better-mousetrap kind of inspiration that has long driven American innovation. Company president William Blankemeier identified a market within the chemical industry for a new kind sealless pump. Such a product would have fewer parts than existing sealless competitors, making it easier both to maintain and to manufacture. And, because the facility for fabricating this pump did not yet exist, it could be designed to meet the new product’s specific needs.

The resulting plant is set up in a cell arrangement, so that the machine used to manufacture the unit can make all of the pump parts with one set of tooling. Three families of pumps have been designed and coordination between product design and manufacturing has allowed all production on any of the three families of pumps to be done with tooling available within the cell. As a result, the pumps can be made one-off, as ordered, with less than 50% of traditional labor hours

Understanding new opportunities

PeopleFlo has expanded its product line as it has discovered new opportunities. When working with customers who were installing trial versions of its pumps, PeopleFlo discovered these customers needed help incorporating the new unit into an existing system. This observation resulted in the EnviroBase, which makes pump installation easier. And the company’s EnviroCare products provide power monitoring as well as protection during soft pump starts.

PeopleFlo’s lean staff roster mirrors its management philosophy – the startup currently has fewer than 25 full-time employees. Following a just-in-time approach, managers also have a team of technical advisors on call, who add their expertise as needed. As business is growing, the company now is started working with local colleges to recruit the right entry-level workers.

To date, most of PeopleFlo’s sales have been, effectively, trial installations, allowing customers to evaluate the EnviroGear products. Success of the company’s lean-from-the-ground-up approach looks promising as leading customers like EI DuPont, PPG, 3M and Cargill have placed additional orders for MRO replacement and for capital spending projects. PeopleFlo Manufacturing is positioned for some fat returns, should its lean approach succeed.

About PeopleFlo Manufacturing, Inc.

PeopleFlo is a manufacturing-based products and services company. Founded in 2004, PeopleFlo puts manufacturing innovation to work by creating solutions to reduce operating costs, protect the environment and improve energy efficiency.