Heitek Automation founded in 2000 as a pneumatic and robotic automation distributor, now operates in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico, representing over 50 brands in electrical control systems, pneumatic components, valves, robotics, sensors and more for manufacturing automation systems and maintenance. Heitek also provides custom-engineered solutions, industrial control panel assembly and aluminum extrusion fabrication and assembly.
In 2022, the company expanded operations to New Mexico by acquiring an electronics contract manufacturer and distributor, helping to expand manufacturing capabilities. Employee count is up from 2021 from 70 to 125 employees. Heitek also moved its Phoenix operations from a 15,000-square-foot-facility to a new 42,000-square-foot facility in June due to organic growth. Four years ago, Arizona Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Arizona MEP) began working with Heitek on a plan to align its people and processes, preparing the company for opportunities to grow the business.
Arizona MEP Helps Heitek Optimize New Facility Layout
With the move to a new building, Heitek and Arizona MEP took this opportunity to plan the layout for efficient workflow and growth. Arizona MEP created a small-scale model of the facility to visualize the best layout for the highest efficiency gains. Scott Heiling, president and quality manager, elaborates, “We built little cutouts of the equipment we had in our existing facility. After that, Arizona MEP organized a few events where we worked with the teams running those production areas. We started laying the cutouts on the board based on our processes and thought about how we wanted to move the material through the shop. We moved the cutouts on the board until we achieved a layout that was the most efficient use of our space.” Safety was also an input into this process. Arizona MEP helped Heitek update its safety manual last year and used what they learned to make informed decisions in the facility layout process. The company continues to work on optimizing the workflow as delivery of equipment and tooling has been delayed due to supply chain issues.
Organizational Development is Key to Growth
As Heitek expands operations, the organization needed to develop a leadership team to support growth. Arizona MEP facilitated DISC assessments for the leadership team to ensure everyone is in the best position to maximize their strengths. After a successful first round of evaluations, the Arizona MEP specialist has also begun assisting the company in creating updated job descriptions and developing a training program to further each employee’s growth. Driving the point home on the value of performing assessments, Heiling stated, “The Arizona MEP specialist helped us understand that there are always two paths, the technology or knowledge-based path and the leadership path. The worst thing that can happen as you grow a company is to take someone awesome at the knowledge track and move them into managing people, and now you lose their effectiveness because they're not doing what they're good at. We did this assessment to find out the best path for some of our future leaders and avoid putting people on the wrong career path.”
Continuous Improvement Journey Moves Forward
Heitek began its ongoing improvement journey with Arizona MEP starting with assessments, lean training events for employees, assisting with ISO certifications and updating its safety program. You can read about the projects here. With Arizona MEP’s help and collaboration Heitek is building the organization to reach its growth goals. “When we are in the day-to-day, it's hard to see the success behind it all,” said Heiling. “We are constantly asking: What do we need to do next? What areas in our organization need improvement, and how do we grow as an organization? Arizona MEP has been a great partner, introducing new concepts and propelling us to try new things."