Written by Mary Ellen Klukow, Lynn Gorman Communications LLC
Kasi Larson has always stood out in her career field. At first, it was because she was one of the relatively few women in the manufacturing industry. It wasn’t long before she was noticed for an entirely different reason: her unmatched ability to run a shop.
Larson started her career in a warehouse driving a forklift but quickly decided that she wanted more. “I came to USNR for an opportunity to grow,” she said of her move to the international leader in equipment and technologies for the wood processing industry. Larson started as a raw material handler, moving material between work-stations as they progressed through the production process. Her superiors noticed as her familiarity with the shop’s workflow grew and soon promoted her to machine shop coordinator.
“It’s a more in-depth position,” she explained. “I make sure the guys are clocking in and out of their jobs, and then I keep them on track from top to bottom.” Larson ensures that everyone at the Woodland, Washington facility is managing their time and space most efficiently. She relies on the shop’s Fastems Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) to help her schedule jobs. The FMS is integrated with the facility’s two Kardex Remstar automated storage and retrieval systems to keep materials and parts organized so that Larson can quickly and easily find what she needs. Larson also depends on USNR’s AX Operating system to track the steel and plate trucks she offloads regularly.
“I check my jobs at least every five minutes, and I pick up the snags. If there’s something that’s being held up or if there’s a bottleneck somewhere, I go in and get things going. I’ll hunt down jobs that could potentially be on a machine.” When the FMS indicates a holdup, Larson is quick to move jobs from one site to another and will even occasionally outsource work to vendors to maximize production. Larson said that there is always something she can do to improve workflow.
As chaotic as her position can be, Larson enjoys being kept on her toes: “I’ve got to be everywhere at once. It stays pretty interesting.” Her bond with her coworkers is icing on the cake, she continued on to say. “I’m very lucky to work with the guys here. I’ve become fond of them, and they’ve come to trust me with what I do. They help me out just as much as I help them.”