Kanban Pull System

As the Ashburton and McDougal Project are nearing turnover to their respective owners, the plant “Kanban Pull System” project is out of the planning stages into the implementing stage. The Japanese word, “Kanban” can be translated into English as “Sign Board” and is an important part of our “Pull System”. Taichi Ohno, the creator of the Toyota Production System,  devised a plan in the 1950’s to have demand and actual production determine quantity and timing of re-orders in purchasing. This plan was thought up into existence after Mr. Ohno and the Toyota team visited a United States Supermarket and could not believe its efficiencies.  Using Visual Re-fill points (flags, measuring rods, marked bins, three bins, etc.) and Re-order points coupled with a Daily Patrol and thorough 5S, we can achieve a “pull system” instead of the very wasteful “push system”.

Our System is nearly 50% complete and fully implemented by November of 2011. The 5S methodology will give our plant a very aesthetically pleasing environment with a clear vision of continuous improvement in the Inventory Scheduling and Control Systems.

The initial Value Added Space Percentage was recorded at 60% (40231/66816). After the 5S, we are estimating at improving that number to 80% then continuously improving from there.  The 5S methodology consists of:

  1. Sorting – Recognizing waste and discarding
  2. Straightening – Creating a set place for all materials and processes
  3. Shining – Keeping things clean
  4. Standardizing – Everything should be consistent and identical. Every process and worker should know exactly what their role’s and responsibilities are.  
  5. Sustaining – This is easily the most difficult part of the process and a clear system of sustaining the gains made while continuing to improve must be part of the corporate charter.

Come out for a tour and see how our already efficient production process and soon to be Lean Supply Chain will change the face of construction in New York!

Latest Design Trends and Innovations

This month, we came across an excellent article by Nancy B. Solomon, AIA that was first published in the July/August 2011 issue of GreenSource magazine and is now located on-line at the GreenSource website.  We are providing a link to the article below.

The article, entitled Code Green reviews several recent attempts by Cities, states, and national organizations who are working to establish minimum, enforceable sustainable construction requirements to complement—not replace—highly popular above-code incentive programs such as USGBC’s LEED certification program.  The article describes the process behind such newly implemented codes as:

  • The California Green Building Standards Code, or the CALGreen
  • The Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code
  • New York City’s attempt to review the existing code and recommend advances that would advance sustainable construction by asking the Urban Green Council to establish a task force to that end,
  • ASHRAE Standard 189.1 “Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,”
  • International Green Construction Code (IGCC)


Capsys on Target for LEED Gold


The Park Terrace project is set for LEED Gold in the Mid-rise LEED for homes program!  Capsys incorporated many innovative and energy saving features to the project such as Energy Star Lighting, water use reduction, framing efficiency, waste management.  In addition to these and many others the use of modular construction is recognized as an exceptional method of building in an environmentally conscious way!  We are thankful to all the project team members for contributing to the overall goal; the building is coming together very well.


Ashburton LEED Checklist



Pavlov in Production?

I remember learning back in undergraduate school about Ivan Pavlov and his now famous experiment involving dogs and classical conditioning. It was interesting but the merit of this experiment did not became clear until this week on the production line. Our brains remember emotions; types of touch, patterns, colors, thoughts, etc. through association of neurons with similar inputs say ACB could be associated with ABC. Pavlov demonstrated how when a dog hears sit he may start salivating because he knows every time he sits he receives a treat.  The treat did not cause the salivating the “conditional stimulus” caused it.  Another example is when a person smells coffee they instantly become more alert even though the effects of coffee on the central nervous system does not go into effect until 20-30 minutes after consumption.

This week, I was at a job site; therefore, not on the manufacturing line and was surprised to see our production go from averaging 2.5 to 1.25 sqft/mnhr.  I asked myself why? Then, I proceeded to ask every lead person the same question five times. There were some interesting reasons but the most startling was that some of them were not aware there was still a schedule and thought they were “on-time”.

Ilona Milewska, the office manager, said that this makes sense, because they associate you with a schedule and when you were not there, they assumed there is not one. By walking the line, I was the “conditional stimulus” of there is a schedule and it needs to be kept. I was a reminder of a goal that should be reached. Now, I am not comparing our highly experienced and skilled workforce to dogs, but merely stating how conditioning takes place no matter what the venue.

This  type of “conditioning” can be very dangerous to a production line and should not be maintained. There were many other factors leading to a momentary loss of efficiency, but this was the most surprising. The system is what people should depend on, not positions of influence. A good system works effectively and efficiently regardless of differences in management or variation.

So, in order to change this, a good reminder of what the schedule is and how it will not change unless communicated otherwise, was in order. Also, a possible addition of “Andon Lights” to bring a “conditional to unconditional reminder” to the system could work wonders.


The terrible two’s as parents call it when their children reach the age of two and start questioning everything they see. Why this, why that, why, why, why, until their parents either answer these questions or pass out. There were no questions too small or big. Their status quo is not developed yet and their minds are completely open to new ideas.  

In lean manufacturing and lean six sigma, this used to be annoying behavior, has become standard practice even earning the title “5W Analysis”. What industrial engineers are learning is to become that two-year-old child once more but with a bit more diplomacy and respect for all employees while conducting this analysis. Shigeo Shingo once said, “A relentless barrage of “why” is the best way to prepare your mind to pierce the clouded veil of thinking caused by the status quo. Use it often”.

One of the biggest barriers to building modularly is preconceived notions of trailer park homes or structures with lower quality. However, this could not be more further from the truth. Our sales manager, Tom O’Hara often says, “Would you want your car built outside in the elements or in an environmentally controlled manufacturing factory?” Would it not be nice to be able to have quality checks and measures being controlled during every aspect of the construction process?

At Capsys, every aspect of the construction process is broken down and analyzed. Then put back together so the plumbers, electricians, welders, and carpenters can work together as seamlessly as possible; thus, increasing output and quality.    

As the two year old would say, “why build it the conventional site built way when quality, efficiency, production rate, and supply chain’s all are better with a manufacturing line?” As an industrial engineer, every time I walk the production line I hear that two-year-old boy inside me saying, “Why” and it brings a smile to my face as the factory workers give me silly looks as I ask them.

NYSERDA And NYPSC To Dstribute $150M Fund For Large-Scale Renewable Energy Projects

NYSERDA and PSC has begun distributing from a $150 Million fund to pay for up to 50% of the cost of large-scale Solar and Biogas Power projects for private businesses who are large users of Electricity in NYC and Westchester County.

Earlier this year, NYSERDA launched the $150 million program encouraging large businesses, especially manufacturing facilities; colleges and universities; schools; and other large buildings to take advantage of renewable energy incentives specifically for New York City and the lower the Hudson Valley. The incentives are for large-scale photovoltaic and biogas power initiatives. NYSERDA will award up to $30 million each year, of which $25 million is targeted for New York City or southern Westchester County. The idea is to promote more clean-energy production in a part of the state that traditionally has been a large consumer of fossil fuels. The projects are meant to produce power for on-site use, not for direct sale to utilities. Under certain circumstances, however, unused power can be added to the grid in exchange for future utility credit. The NYSERDA incentive pays up to 50 percent of the cost of a project, up to $3 million. PV systems are also eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit and a 25 percent state tax credit.

For more information on this program you may click on the following link.


Capsys embraces DOW Insulation

Capsys is embracing the closed-cell Styrofoam Spray foam system by DOW.  Used in conjunction with Thermax sheathing as a an overall system this allows for R-values unprecedented in the industry.  This system allows for greater air-tightness, reduced energy consumption and overall savings to the environment.

Lean Thinking

With Capsys adopting Kaizen and Lean Manufacturing into its Manufacturing line, one cannot help but think of a famous quote by Shigeo Shingo, “The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.” One can locate waste in many different departments in any organization by asking the simple question, “Does this add value?” If it does not, it is waste and must be discarded. 

Waste or “Muda” as it is called in Lean Manufacturing is everywhere and it starts in the system/program that is responsible for everything. When designing an inventory system, production line, supply chain, production process, schedule, site management, quality control system, one must be cognizant of each step in the process because each step is magnified through time and it either focuses or folds to its pressure.  

Starting in February of 2011, Capsys has adopted this kind of Lean thinking and has enjoyed great success in its manufacturing line by nearly doubling its production efficiency in a little over 5 months while controlling costs by changing to a Kanban, pull-type Supply Chain. Its yields have also been increasing due to a more proactive quality control system that locates causes of problems versus just trying to catch after the fact defects.

On June 27th, 2011, Capsys welded its first Chassis for Phase III of the Nehemiah Spring Creek Townhouse Project. In concurrency, Capsys is setting the Hanac Bathroom Pods, putting the finishing touches on the Ashburton and McDougal Projects, and starting erection of the Victory Blvd projects in early August of 2011.

Bringing these individual systems and projects together in an interconnected system of continuous improvement makes Capsys poised for a strong finish to 2011 and a stronger beginning to 2012. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like a tour of our construction manufacturing plant in New York City.

Lower Cost Solar Power Research to be lead by US DoE

US Department Of Energy is leading a new research program to reduce the cost of solar power generation to a commercial equivelant of one dollar per watt generated by 2017 and to make Solar power less expensive than fossil fuels by 2020. The link below leads to a good article about this research and process.


The site,  www.renewableenergyfocus.com requires you to register (its free) for access to this to a great deal of other information about all forms of renewable energy.

Modular Meets Conventional Construction

I’m happy to report that we are making great progress in Astoria.The project is really picking up steam.

Recently Capsys team finished plant production of 66 modular bathrooms for the Senior Living project in Astoria, NY. Today is the second day of setting of the second floor modules. The second floor’s bathrooms were shipped to the job site and now they are being set inside a conventionally constructed building. This six story building is being erected by Capsys’s sister company – Monadnock Construction, Inc.

Check out some pictures from today’s setting!

Pictures by David Parlo