Just In Time Manufacturing Is Working Overtime
This should be the best of times for Intermet Corp. With auto sales booming, the Troy (Mich.) auto-parts supplier faces red-hot demand for the iron and aluminum castings it produces for sport-utility vehicles and light trucks. But few of the company's 6,890 employees have time to celebrate. The crush of orders is so huge that Intermet is running 24 hours a day. Lines can't be shut down for needed maintenance. Stressed-out workers are quitting. Meanwhile, escalating production costs--for overtime, repairs, and premium-freight charges--cut third-quarter profits by 20%, to $7.4 million, even as revenue jumped 16%, to $225 million.
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