Altman Lighting Applies Lean 6S Principles to Factory Floor

Altman Lighting



  • 2,600 square feet freed up for future product line manufacturing
  • 750 square feet freed up for low usage tool and die-set storage
  • Improved cycle times and unit completion dates
  • Reduced product defects and search times



Founded in 1953 by Charles Altman, Altman lighting is now run by second generation, Robert Altman. Altman Lighting, located in Yonkers, NY, is a leading innovator in theatrical, architectural, film, and video lighting. Specializing in custom work, they strive to keep a family philosophy alive through customer satisfaction and service. For over 60 years they have maintained their high standards for excellence and top-quality products at affordable prices.


Altman Lighting had been struggling with inefficiencies in their operations. Before beginning work with MTEC engineer, Dave Tooker, their functional areas did not have a set of standards/best practices that were being followed regularly. Without best practices, organization can begin to fall by the wayside. This led to inventory being left in non-inventory areas and defects being discovered in production at times that were less than ideal. Unused storage areas were situated in places where they were causing extra, unnecessary steps in operations.



Within small groups, all the employees at Altman Lighting were trained in 5S. Each department selected a leader to implement the lean methodology in their functional area. They were given responsibility and ownership of their designated areas throughout the training process. By empowering employees in this way, they became much more engaged and competitive in their roles.

Within all functional areas, standards and best practices were put forth.  Signage was used to help organize, giving tools and important resources designated homes. This way nothing would end up lost, hidden, or in a place it did not belong, reducing search time. Completion dates were improved because employees were able to identify inventory that had been misplaced instead of waiting to order more.

As part of the methodology Dave developed for the Altman Lighting team, regular site audits were implemented. They exposed a lack of preventive maintenance, related to equipment cleaning, which had been the cause of inefficient operations. Had this not been discovered sooner, it could have led to equipment failure later-on down the road. The audits reduced products defects by exposing foreign object damage on painted products, before they made their way to the customer.

Cycle time was also reduced by a re-layout of factory equipment. In one building, products were being made downstairs, brought upstairs for the second stage of production, and then back downstairs to paint before being sent off to assembly. By consolidating the fabrication department’s storage, and moving it upstairs, they were able to eliminate all the time spent transporting products from one floor to another.

The 6S approach used at Altman Lighting is unique because it uses a do, train, evaluate approach. Compared to a classroom approach, Dave was able to work with employees to “do and train” right on the production floor, giving them the ability to physically watch the work they were doing make an impact (evaluate).