NWIRC’s Improvement Kata Makes Problem-Solving Second Nature for SEPCO

NWIRC’s Tom Weible, TWI Certified in kata, coached SEPCO’s core team to apply improvement kata working towards diminishing time spent on problem-solving. The NWIRC enhances the competitiveness and growth of small to medium-sized manufacturers across northwest Pennsylvania. By working with clients to improve productivity and technological performance, NWIRC is becoming a leader in their industry by helping manufacturers become more efficient. SEPCO’s team members participated as learners in sessions designed to help master the improvement kata to: 

  • Assess current conditions based on data 

    SEPCO Maintenance Manager, Paul Brown, is coached by NWIRC’s Tom Weible

  • Establish target conditions that are in alignment with the challenge
  • Identify and evaluate obstacles
  • Select an improvement path
  • Establish expectations
  • Implement experiments
  • Measure results
  • Learn from the experiences

SEPCO’s improvement experiments were centered around the current condition of long equipment set-up time–at nearly three hours. Their goal was to improve targeted time for each new experiment and the review of outcomes. Through multiple rounds of learning, experiments, and short coaching sessions, employees were driving the process of improvement with measurable results.


With the help of NWIRC’s improvement kata, SEPCO increased machine capacity by improving set-up time from 2.75 hours to 56 minutes. The plan is to continue kata experiments to reduce even set-up times even further, positioning us for an estimated $100K in increased sales over the next year and an estimated $150K in retained sales with customer satisfaction improvements. SEPCO is expecting to accumulate a cost savings of $35K over the next year.

Team leader and SEPCO Maintenance Manager, Paul Brown, said “Before learning kata, we often used a shotgun approach to solving problems and never really knew what solved the issue or the actual impact of the change or improvement. Now we work as a team to determine the next target condition towards the goal.”

Dan, the owner of SEPCO, said improvement kata enhances their company culture and supports their continuous improvement initiatives, specifically with 2-second lean. “NWIRC’s Tom Weible coached us through our first kata challenge with amazing results that are proving to be long-lasting. We now use kata as the basis for all our improvement efforts.”

Learn more about all of SEPCO’s capabilities and service they offer.


With the help of NWIRC’s experienced business advisors accelerating growth through customized solutions, SEPCO’s benefit from proven, results-oriented services including:

  • Manufacturing Technology Acceleration – next-generation applied technology research & development services
  • Lean / Continuous Improvement – cost reduction consulting services & training
  • CoreValue Software – advanced business valuation & planning tools
  • Facilitated Management Services – objective and high-quality solutions & projects

For more information on what NPWIRC can do, visit NWIRC’s website today.