Table of Contents
Table of Contents.....................................................................................................................1
Rockwell Collins Accelerates With Lean Engineering...........................................................2
Streamlined product development processes cut cycle times, reduce time-to-market.
Average Isn’t Good Enough................................................................................................3-4
Simply stated, manufacturers that aren’t continually improving are losing ground. VIBCO Vibrators has
embraced the principles of lean to assure it remains in the game, not behind the pack.
How to Make it in America -- the Lean Way.......................................................................5-6
Five questions with American Leather co-founder Bob Duncan.
Lessons From the Road: Sustaining Your 5S Efforts..............................................................6
5S too often is short lived, but these six steps can help keep it running smoothly.
How to Design a Lean Implementation So Failure is Guaranteed...................................7-8
Three critical characteristics will help gauge your chances for success.
Safety Beyond Compliance.....................................................................................................9
A ‘lean’ approach to safety builds a culture that engages the entire workforce in proactively seeking out and
removing injury risks.
It has been embraced, ignored, misunderstood and even derided, but lean’s proponents continue to exhort
its value as a driver of operational excellence.
Lean for Machines............................................................................................................12-13
Applying continuous-improvement strategies to maintenance can help your plant run like a well-oiled
Don’t Let Size be a Lean Barrier............................................................................................14
Small manufacturers have advantages when it comes to implementing lean.
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 1
Accelerates With Lean
development processes cut cycle
times, reduce time-to-market.
By Jonathan Katz
Rockwell Collins Inc. is in a race with global suppliers to expand into emerging markets, such as Russia, China, India and
Brazil. Diversifying into new markets has never been more important for the aviation electronics and communication equipment manufacturer, with the United States and Europe clampRockwell Collins systems engineers perform tests in a Blagnac, France, lab on
ing down on defense budgets.
the crew alert system for the AgustaWest-land AW149 and AW101 helicopter
In late 2010 Rockwell made several announcements regard- programs.
ing agreements the company signed with China’s state-owned
Photo: Rockwell Collins
Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China to provide systems
cess. So Level 1 may be simply a design idea, whereas
for Comac’s C919 aircraft. The company also is working
Level 9 is a product realization.
with Russia’s Irkut Corp. to build the MS-21 commercial
“The manufacturing readiness level assesses how
aircraft and is competing to provide technology for
robust a design is for transition into the factory,” MatBrazil’s next-generation tanker platform, says Nan Mattai says. “So it looks at whether you’ve completed your
tai, Rockwell’s senior vice president of engineering and
qualification test, have you put the right infrastructure
from a test-equipment standpoint in the factory, have
The global expansion means aerospace manufacthe build operators been trained, have the technicians
turers must make improving time-to-market a priority. Nan Mattai:
been trained, have you run a pilot line. It’s assessing
One of the ways Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Rockwell Col- “We standardize
those areas to evaluate your readiness for factory tranlins has hastened the product-development process is into what I call a
through lean engineering. The company began its lean technical-consisThe lean engineering processes help Rockwell move
engineering initiative in the 2001-2002 timeframe. Rock- tent process. We
engineers where they’re most needed, optimize rewell adopted lean techniques being applied to its plant standardize the
major tools we
search and development dollars and accelerate the
floors to standardize the engineering process.
engineers’ learning curve as they move from the gov“We standardize our processes into what I call a
ernment side of the business to the commercial side,
technical-consistent process,” Mattai says. “We standardize the major tools we utilize.” The company’s lean engineering Mattai says. The result has been an average cycle-time reduction
system is called Core Process Optimization and includes an up- of 20% to 30% across various projects over a three-year period,
stream and downstream approach. That means the company fo- according to Mattai.
As part of the engineering team’s lean adoption, the comcuses on its pursuit and order-capture processes as well as how
the design and development processes transition to manufac- pany also has implemented a variation of a “pull system.” That is,
the engineers are closely aligned with internal and external custuring, Mattai says.
Rockwell implemented common engineering tools that allow tomers to ensure they’re adhering to customer requirements.
engineers to move across different business segments in a more Some of this engagement occurs in customer labs, such as the
streamlined fashion, Mattai says. Downstream the company in- Air Force Research Lab, or working with internal business units
troduced a “manufacturing introductory index” that helps tran- during their strategic-planning sessions to understand their
sition designs to the plant floor and a manufacturing readiness needs, technology gaps and to infuse innovative thinking into
level that assesses where a product is in the development pro- their processes, Mattai says.
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 2
Simply stated, manufacturers that aren’t continually
improving are losing ground. VIBCO Vibrators has
embraced the principles of lean to assure it remains in
the game, not behind the pack.
By Jill Jusko
When your actions -- or more precisely lack of action -- make a grown man cry, it’s not a moment you are likely to forget.
Karl Wadensten hasn’t forgotten. The president of privately held VIBCO Vibrators cites the
incident as the catapult that launched his Wyoming, R.I.-based manufacturing company on its
lean journey more than eight years ago.
The story goes like this: A salesman for a distributorship sells a large construction project on
the benefits of purchasing products made by VIBCO, which manufactures electric, pneumatic
and hydraulic vibrators for construction and industrial use. The salesman places the order with
VIBCO, which provides him with a delivery date. VIBCO misses the delivery date. The manufacturer then misses a second delivery date, which prompts the salesman to call VIBCO on a Friday
afternoon, in tears. His reputation and likely his job are on the line, “and here we are not holding
up our end,” says Wadensten. The construction firm is set to begin pouring concrete the following Monday.
Add to the story VIBCO’s typical manufacturing operations work week, which is 40 hours in
four-and-a-half days. Thus the plant floor is largely cleared out by the time VIBCO’s customer
service representative escalates the issue to Wadensten, who has been home sick. The feel-good
ending is that VIBCO shipped out the order on that Friday, after rallying employees to return to
the manufacturing facility and push through the order.
Except, of course, it wasn’t a feel-good ending. “It’s not one of those orders you can celebrate.
(in orange) says
the entire workforce embraces
lean with the
same ferocity he
of those lean
the company gain
market share during the economic
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 3
Yes, we did it,” Wadensten says. “[But] we built no bridges with
the relationship at this point. We did nothing for the brand of
our company. It’s sad that we had to get to that point to get
something out for somebody.”
Time for Self-Reflection
The high-profile incident drove Wadensten to take a good,
hard look at his company, and what he saw frustrated him. The
VIBCO president describes the mindset of his company back
then as typical of U.S. manufacturers. “We were like an average
manufacturer. We’d miss some [dates]; we’d make some,” he says.
While the incident with the crying customer wasn’t the norm at
his firm, he said it brought home some ugly truths about how
good the company really was. And he recognized the need to
Wadensten points out the competitive advantages U.S. manufacturers should bring to U.S. customers -- speed, agility, trust
and relationships. Yet what he saw in his firm were unpredictable
delivery at times and a lack of stable processes. On the plus side,
he says VIBCO made a good product and boasted a dedicated
staff, “but we weren’t communicating.”
That mindset no longer prevails at VIBCO. Indeed, exactly the
opposite is true, and Wadensten credits the company’s embrace
of lean for the change. He describes the lean transformation
as more than waste elimination or process improvement (although both are important), but a cultural change as well that
has turned the employees into a workforce of problem-solvers.
“I have 85 problem-solvers,” he says. “They are intuitively fixing
things all day long.”
It’s to the benefit of customers. VIBCO produces 1,300 different products and 6,800 component pieces and can deliver
within 48 hours “from scratch,” with same-day or next-day delivery on standard products. Helping boost that velocity are lean
practices such as quick changeovers. For example, changeovers
on lathes that once took 75 to 90 minutes have been reduced to
less than 10. Assembly times that took hours have been driven
down to four minutes.
“We’re doing everything for the customer because at the end
of the day, that’s what we’re in business for, that’s what pays our
bills,” Wadensten says.
VIBCO’s embrace of lean benefits the company as well. Its
benefits became especially obvious during the recent recession. Wadensten points out that VIBCO didn’t lay off people during the downturn and worked 40-hour weeks. It spent money
on marketing and equipment, and grew market share by 16%.
Plus, Wadensten says the time saved by eliminating non-valueadded tasks freed time to develop new products, pointing out
that VIBCO added 13 products and two new patents to its stable
in recent years.
“Lean allows you more time to do things that are important
to the customer and that they are willing to pay for. Then your
company can grow and spend more time on R&D, spend more
time on innovating, spend more time on process control, spend
more time on material and information flow,” he says.
Wadensten has become an ardent advocate for lean manufacturing. (The manufacturer even hosts a radio show called
“The Lean Nation.”) He has advice for manufacturers who suggest they don’t have time for lean. Make time, he says, “because
the rest of the globe is making time for this, and you are going
to get your clock cleaned.” Also, he says, don’t think you can “dip
your toes” into lean, choosing small pieces to incorporate and
think you’re done. That’s flavor-of-the-day thinking, Wadensten
That’s not to suggest lean is easy. Some lean tools, such as
single-piece flow, are counterintuitive to the batch production
taught in engineering or business schools, Wadensten notes.
Standard work may be another challenge. For VIBCO, however,
the biggest early challenge was the “people” side of lean. Some
employees were skeptical and didn’t believe their ideas would
be heard. And while VIBCO strove to encourage what Wadensten describes as peoples’ intuitive desire to share in the improvement process, such collaboration requires that companies
gain the trust of their employees -- trust that driving business
improvements does not equate to driving away jobs. “Lean is a
growth strategy, not a strategy to eliminate people,” he says.
More recently, VIBCO has encountered the challenge of sustaining its lean efforts. In June 2010 lead times started stretching
out, and a backlog began to develop. The company consulted
with other manufacturers that had been pursuing lean journeys
over longer periods and gained valuable perspective. Among
the learnings: VIBCO’s lean journey had driven many point solutions, but an overall corporate strategy was lacking. The infrastructure needed to sustain the gains was missing, in other
words. That’s where VIBCO is concentrating much of its efforts
today. Its backlog has largely disappeared and the company
may soon improve on its same-day, next-day mantra.
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 4
How to Make it in America -- the Lean Way
Five questions with American Leather co-founder Bob Duncan.
By Josh Cable
The story of Bob Duncan isn’t your typical success story in manufacturing.
Duncan didn’t rise through the manufacturing ranks as a salesman or a plant
manager, nor did he invent anything. In
fact, before Duncan and Sanjay Chandra co-founded luxury furniture maker
American Leather in 1990, Duncan had
no manufacturing experience whatsoever (except for the time he spent in his
father’s cotton gin as a kid).
After earning his master’s degree in
manufacturing engineering, Duncan got
a job as a consultant. In his two-year stint
in the consulting world, Duncan learned
about a business concept that changed
his life: lean manufacturing.
For American Leather CEO and cofounder Bob Duncan, lean is the business
Today, Dallas-based American Leather
is a $70 million business, and it has carved
a niche by manufacturing and delivering customized high-end upholstered
furniture in three weeks or less. Duncan
built the company on lean principles, so
much so that he insists lean is his business
IndustryWeek recently asked Duncan
about his company, the importance of
lean principles and his commitment to
manufacturing in America.
IW: Of all the possible business ideas
you could pursue, why did you choose
BD: One of the clients that I had consulted with was involved in the furniture
industry. They own their own stores, and
they had a factory, and in the course of
doing some work for them as a consultant, I learned about the industry.
I learned that for the most part, the
furniture industry from a manufacturing
standpoint was still a very old approach to
manufacturing -- it was more of a batchbased manufacturing mentality, and lead
times were very long, even for domestic
... So if you wanted to special-order
a leather sofa, or for that matter a fabric
sofa, probably the standard lead time for
a domestic producer was 10 to 12 weeks.
Eight weeks was really fast.
At the time, Italy was the dominant offshore producer, subsidized by its government, and it was very price-competitive.
Italian goods had an even longer lead
time -- I’d say probably 16 weeks.
And so our whole idea was that we
would apply Japanese manufacturing
methods to an old-line industry, and allow consumers to have a lot of choice
-- everything made to order. So allow a
consumer to come in and really customize exactly what they’d like, and then ship
dramatically faster than was the norm in
IW: So lean was the foundation of your
BD: When we started our business,
our mentality was, ‘If Toyota was going
to build furniture, how would they do
it?’ Lean was our business model and our
business advantage from Day 1.
For American Leather CEO and co-founder Bob
Duncan, lean is the business model.
So in some respects, we have less competition in our niche than we did say five
to seven years ago.
IW: How has the industry changed
since you started American Leather?
IW: What is the biggest operational
challenge that you face?
BD: A lot of our domestic competitors
now do a substantial amount -- if not all
-- of their production offshore, mainly in
China. And when you do that, obviously
it affects the lead time. And typically that
model isn’t really set up for custom or
So they’re able to produce and sell
a brown sofa at a much lower cost than
they were four, five years ago in their domestic factories. But if you want a different color, if you want other options -- we
have hundreds of options, and ultimately
we have tens of millions of configurations
that could be ordered from our factory at
any given point in time -- that’s just not
typically what a Chinese manufacturing
model is going to be set up to do. They’re
normally large, very efficient batches, but
it’s going to be less custom-ordered.
BD: We’re two or three times more expensive than a mass-market price point
because [the overall price of furniture] has
gone down. And so we have to explain to
a consumer why are we worth it.
To do that, the pressure on us hasn’t
been so much to make things less expensively, but it’s been to offer more choice,
more features, more options, more innovation. (Duncan notes that the company
now offers 87 different leather colors and
approximately 400 fabrics.)
So the complexity of our process today
is easily two to three times higher than
what we would’ve had say just five or six
... The manufacturing model certainly,
but even just keeping track of all the data
and getting everything right, is a huge
challenge. The only way I think you can
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 5
pull that off is through lean principles.
IW: Why is it so important for you to
keep your manufacturing operations in
the United States?
BD: There are two reasons. The first is
for our business model, I think it would
be very challenging to do it offshore. Certainly to do it in China with the [shipping]
times and the distance over water would
be very challenging. Maybe you go to
Mexico -- we’re not that far, we’re only 300
miles from the Mexican border -- so maybe you could replicate that in Mexico.
I grew up right on the border with
Mexico, and it’s a different country. There
are just challenges to doing business in
a different country, and our model is extremely demanding.
Plus I just think from a communication
standpoint, from a supply chain standpoint, I think that there’s a good chance
that it would kind of fall apart if you tried
to replicate the model outside of our market, outside of the U.S. So from a business
standpoint, I just think that there’s a very
high likelihood that it would fall apart,
that it wouldn’t be sustainable.
And the second reason is that I love
manufacturing, and I like to build things.
I suppose some people would say you
could buy your own factory somewhere,
or have a strategic partner, but what’s
been more typical in our industry is that
they simply outsource and just contract
with somebody else to build their product. For me personally, the passion and
the enjoyment is making things. And so if
I wasn’t making it, then why do it?
... Personally, this is only fun for me if
I’m building my own products and building them in the U.S. If I had to go offshore
to do that, then I think I’d just like to do
Lessons From the Road: Sustaining Your 5S Efforts
5S too often is short-lived, but these six steps
can help keep it running smoothly.
By Jamie Flinchbaugh
5S is probably the most common lean method applied. It is
seemingly simple, progress is visual, and it involves everyone.
However, the average lifespan of a 5S effort is a paltry
one year. This is worse than doing nothing at all. Getting
the organization to put this much effort into something
and then not sustain it sends the unintended message
that their efforts were not valuable. It is disrespectful.
So how do you sustain the 5S efforts? The following
steps include actions to take during its installation, and
1. Communicate the purpose. The purpose of 5S is not safety,
discipline, engagement, tidiness, being “tour-ready” or improving
efficiency. Those are benefits, but the primary purpose is to be
able to spot problems quickly. Look inside a NASCAR garage, and
you are likely to see the cleanest garage you’ve ever seen. Why?
Because if there is one drop of oil on the ground, I want to know
about that problem right away. I don’t want to find the problem 10
laps from the finish line. I want to find that problem immediately.
5S, when done right, allows you to walk into any area and spot
abnormalities easily. People need to have a clear understanding
of the purpose to be able to make good decisions about its use.
2. Audit at the leadership level. Most organizations get some
kind of audit and check into place. Some do it from inside the
team, some from peers from other groups, and sometimes from
a central team. Audits are inherently wasteful but necessary. The
leadership of the organization also needs to do a form of audit.
What’s the purpose of their audit? It’s less about accountability
and more about finding systemic barriers to 5S success through
direct observation and engagement. These are the problems that
leaders must solve to help enable sustainable 5S.
3. Periodically change your audits. Audits can become stale
and routine. When they do, they stop becoming effective. Change
the audit methods periodically. You might change the scoring,
change the roles, change the frequency or change the evaluation
method. Audits are about seeing what’s working and what’s not.
Sometimes you need to look from a different angle. Changing
how people view the process can help them see something they
missed before, as well as prevent them from taking the audits for
4. During a crisis, double your audits. If an area is in the midst of
a crisis, be it production or quality or anything, what is the natural
reaction? Do you drop the nice-to-have audits, or do you double
them? Dropping is the common reaction but the wrong
one. During a crisis, you want your process as stable as
possible so you can focus in on the challenge or abnormal condition causing the crisis. If 5S is truly connected
to helping you maintain a stable process, then it is more
important than ever to sustain it. Not only does dropping the audit during a crisis send the wrong message,
it can make recovery even harder.
5. Escalate problems. If audits find breakdowns in the process
but there are no consequences, then what’s the point? There
must be an escalation process with consequences for failures. For
example, one organization knows that if an area is out of control,
they run the risk of serious problems. Therefore, if you fail one audit, you have a chance to correct things. But if you fail two, your
area is shut down. And management must come to the area to
figure out what is going so wrong and what to do about it. There
must be an escalation of breakdowns in 5S for corrective action to
be taken seriously.
6. Eliminate doors and drawers. You can only solve problems of
an organization when you can find them. What’s the purpose of
doors on cabinets and drawers? Primarily, to hide the clutter. We
don’t want to hide the clutter —we want to eliminate it. Eliminating doors and drawers help make observations and finding abnormalities easier.
5S is relatively simple. But simple doesn’t always mean it’s easy.
If 5S is worth doing, it’s worth doing the hard work of sustaining the efforts. Only then do you reap the gains from this investment.
Contributing Editor Jamie Flinchbaugh is a co-founder and partner of the Lean Learning Center in Novi, Mich., and the co-author of
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean: Lessons from the Road.”
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 6
How to Design a Lean
Implementation So Failure is
Three critical characteristics will help gauge your chances for success.
By Lonnie Wilson, founder, Quality Consultants
Let me share with you a scenario I have seen often -- way
Someone from the C-suite, like the CEO, makes a visit to a
nearby facility that claims it is “lean by every measure.” He is
completely wowwed by the neatness, with a place for everything and everything in its place. He is amazed by the smooth
flow of the product and the smooth flow of both the people
and the information they need. He is further impressed with
the “visual factory” depicting a high degree of control, resulting
in excellent on-time performance with low levels of scrap and
rework. Furthermore, he sees a workforce that is producing independently at a pace his facility cannot even approach, yet it
is working with both a high degree of comfort and confidence
-- almost like a stress-free environment. In addition, the facility
is doing this with some surprisingly unimpressive machinery.
And he is sold, absolutely, totally sold on this “lean thing.”
He promptly gathers the rest of the C-suite and with conviction and passion declares that this “lean thing” is “exactly
what we need.” With animation like he has never displayed, the
CEO relays all of the wonderful things he has just seen. Soon
he is surrounded by a group of impassioned followers. Quickly
they devise a plan by appointing Juan as the lean leader. He is
a midlevel manager who is proficient in many of these techniques and has been a vocal advocate of lean for years. Next
they appoint three others to work with Juan -- the lean implementation team -- and announce that Juan will unveil the lean
implementation plan in 30 days. The team, on schedule, publishes the implementation plan. They want to get everyone involved so their year-one objectives are to implement 5S and
standard work across the entire corporation. Juan and his team
teach all the facilities and spend a great deal of time traveling
to each facility. Juan and his team not only introduce the initiative but also teach the tools. They then are required to follow
up and assist the various locations as those workers implement
the lean tools.
Does this sound good to you? Well . . . don’t be fooled. This
is the perfect formula for failure.
So what’s wrong? We have a jazzed-up top management.
We have dedicated expert resources to train and support. We
have a published plan. Everyone appears to be on board. Excitement and anticipation are high. Doesn’t it sound like success is right around the corner?
Well, the lean answer is “no.” The not-so-lean answer is “hell
Culture-changing efforts designed like this are failing by the
droves. And it makes no difference if it is a lean initiative, reengineering, something smaller like a total productive maintenance push or an effort to implement Six Sigma. They will fail if
they are designed in this manner.
Again I say, “So what’s so bad about this?”
Well, let me share some information. We at Quality Consultants have studied a number of culture-changing initiatives
Does this sound good to you?
Well . . . don’t be fooled. This is the
perfect formula for failure.
and compared their measured level of success to a variety of
critical success factors. The success of each firm was computed using a 1-to-4 scale with 1 being a failed event, 4 being a
continuing success, and with gradations between. Each critical
characteristic was evaluated on a 0-to-5 maturity scale with 0
being very ineffective toward achieving success and 5 representing full maturity of the characteristic of concern.
Using these data, correlations were made and three critical
characteristics stood out as some that could be categorized as
“sounding very good but not leading to success.” Each of these
three critical characteristics was an “error” in the design of the
implementation effort and was so significant that if the characteristic was done correctly, success was possible. However, if
the characterisitic was executed ineffectively, failure was virtually guaranteed; each was a “litmus test” for failure.
Just what are the three characteristics and what do the correlations to success look like? These critical characteristics, in
question format are:
1. Have you integrated the culture changing initiative into
your daily activities?
2. Do you have the required sense of urgency?
3. Is your initiative line or staff driven?
ERROR NO. 1- Implement a Tools-Only Approach
This characteristic measures how well you integrate your
culture-changing initiative into the daily activities of both
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 7
the management and the rank and file. Many times people
talk about the “tools” of lean manufacturing, citing such tools
as kaizen, heijunka, 5S and value stream mapping, to name a
Then an effort is made to integrate these tools into the business culture. This, too, “sounds” very logical. The people are
taught the theory and techniques on how to apply the tools
but all too often are left to their own inexperience on “how”
to apply these tools. In effect the implementation team is saying, “Here is a tool, now go apply it.” All the “tools” of lean are
countermeasures designed to mitigate some type of waste. So
in “lean speak,” when we use this “tools” approach we are effectively saying, “Here is a countermeasure [a solution], now go
find a problem to use it on.” As strange as that may sound, that
is all too often the approach used. However, to properly root
out waste and improve on a daily basis we must ask ourselves
1. an understanding of the present state
2. an understanding of the desired future state and
3. What are the next steps, the countermeasures, we must
take to achieve the desired state?
This questioning approach then leads to a selection of
countermeasures that are employed. So in the end tools are selected. But they are selected based on the needs of the facility
not some arbitrary selection process. When using the problem
solving approach, which is the correct lean approach, tools are
“pulled” based on the needs of the facility rather than “pushed”
to them and expected to be utilized.
ERROR NO. 2 -- Create No Sense of Urgency
The second critical characteristic is that there must be an
appropriate sense of urgency. Our mythical but all too real CEO
got all “jazzed up” about what he saw, and I am sure he was sincere in his desire to improve his business. Again that “sounds”
good, but the rank and file -- the folks with their hand on the
tiller -- needs to know each and every day that what they are
doing is necessary. Nothing will catalyze this better than if they
can see daily that they are making a difference to what really
matters. They need to feel both a sense of accomplishment
and a sense of urgency to stay focused. The CEO may convey
his passion in his periodic speeches, but each and every hour
of each and every day the rank and file must be reminded by
this sense of urgency to stay focused. With it they can see their
contribution and sense their individual importance toward the
betterment of the facility. The point is that the motivation of
the workers cannot come in fits and starts from the passionate
speeches of the leadership. It must be present, with the worker,
on the floor, continually reminding and reinforcing his/her actions. There simply is no substitute for this.
ERROR NO. 3 -- Let the Program be Staff Driven
The third critical characteristics really gets to the point
of precisely who is implementing the initiative and who will
both learn from and lead the waste elimination efforts. When
the staff is involved beyond basic design, initial training and
specialized support untold amounts of damage are done. The
initiative absolutely must be line-driven. The corporation management and leadership must be lean-competent; there is no
substitute for this. And it must be driven from the top down
with no layers missed at all. Again there is no substitute for
this! When the line organization relies heavily on the staff to
train and execute waste countermeasures a great deal of effort
is improperly directed, knowledge transfer is missed and lean
leadership is completely lost to the staff functions. This may
look good in the short term, but in the long term it guarantees
The danger of these three typical errors is that they all
“sound” so good. But make no mistake about it; to be successful we need not just any lean tools that “sound” good but the
specific lean tools that will assist in the attainment of our critical goals. We need to have a motivating sense of urgency that
is visible each and every day, not just periodic injections of energy via “sound bites” from the C-Suite. Finally, although it may
“sound” good for the lean implementation to have some early
successes led by the staff trainers; in the long run it is imperative that the entire line organization incorporate lean leadership skills into their daily activities so this culture-changing
initiative is the “new way” to do things, which then leads to
Lonnie Wilson has been teaching and implementing lean and
other culture-changing techniques for more than 40 years. His
book, “How To Implement Lean Manufacturing” was released in
August 2009. His new book on “How to Lead and Manage a Lean
Facility” is under construction and will go to print in the third
quarter of 2011. Wilson is a frequent speaker at conferences and
seminars. In addition to IndustyWeek, he has published articles in
Quality Digest and is a frequent contributor to iSixSigma magazine. His manufacturing experience spans 20 years with Chevron,
where he held a number of management positions. In 1990 he
founded Quality Consultants, www.qc-ep.com, which teaches
and applies lean and other culture-changing techniques to small
entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 firms, principally in the United
States, Mexico and Canada. In his not-so-spare time, Wilson is the
men’s varsity soccer coach at Cathedral High School in El Paso,
Texas. You can e-mail Lonnie Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 8
Safety Beyond Compliance
A ‘lean’ approach to safety builds a culture that engages the entire workforce in proactively seeking out and removing injury risks.
By Jill Jusko
Too often, manufacturers think of safety only in terms of compliance.
It’s easy to understand why. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires companies to
observe a wealth of rules and regulations designed to keep workers safe and healthy in their workplaces.
Fines can be hefty if the federal agency catches a manufacturing company not complying with those regulations, and severe consequences are assured -- to both the manufacturer and employee -- if failure to comply
with the regulations leads to grievous injuries or even death.
Nevertheless, safety should not be only about compliance, says lean consultant Robert B. Hafey, president
of RBH Consulting and author of “Lean Safety: Transforming your Safety Culture with Lean Management.”
His expertise comes from some 40 years working in manufacturing at companies that include U.S. Steel and
Flexco, where he spent part of his tenure as director of lean operations.
Hafey says safety should also be about building a culture that engages the entire workforce in improving
workplace safety. However, too often the safety role is put in the hands of one person (human resources
manager or EHS director, for example) to push down to the employees.
“You have to have compliance, but you can also have a continuous improvement component,” Hafey
That’s where lean comes in. Lean safety is about using lean thinking and lean tools to drive world-class
safety programs, Hafey says. And for manufacturers who are trying to introduce lean into their operations
and anchor it into their cultures, the consultant suggests that safety is a “great way to start.”
“Everyone will rally around safety,” he says.
To share the impact lean tools can make on safety, Hafey points to a safety kaizen he facilitated. The goal
of the safety kaizen was to reduce the risk of injury, primarily ergonomic-related injury that can result from
such actions as repetitive motions, excessive straining or moving of weights, and out-of-neutral body positions.
The three-day safety kaizen event took place at a host manufacturing plant. The 10-person kaizen team
included members from the host facility, other area facilities and a few additional individuals. As part of the
event, the kaizen team observed an employee performing her duties as a packer. Unlike with some kaizen
events, no stop watch was employed to time the woman’s speed in performing her tasks and no one documented each step. The sole focus of the event was to improve safety, Hafey emphasized.
After observing the woman performing her tasks, the kaizen team developed a list of about 50 potential
improvements related to reducing injury risk. For the second two days of the three-day kaizen event, the
team spent its time making changes to improve the safety of the employee’s job. Among the processes
implemented were one-piece flow to reduce the repetitive motions associated with batch work she had
performed and changes that reduced the amount of bending required to perform the job.
Hafey said ultimately the employee felt physically better as a result of the task modifications, and the
work grew easier to perform. The changes even ultimately sped up how quickly she could perform her tasks,
despite the clear objective of the kaizen event to improve safety.
“By applying lean to safety, [employees] can see what is in it for them,” Hafey says.
The use of lean tools is not limited to kaizen events. Hafey notes that many lean tools, such as 5S, rootcause analysis and A3 reports, for example, can easily be applied to driving world-class safety.
The “Lean Safety” author also emphasizes the need to involve the entire workforce in driving safety
throughout the workplace. “The more people you engage in safety, the more cultural safety can be,” he says.
That’s why Hafey believes in having broad-based safety committees that includes plant-floor members with
Ultimately, a safer workplace delivers on two of the goals of lean: less waste and improved customer
focus. “Injuries are waste,” Hafey says. They lead to employees being at home recovering rather than at work
being productive -- and they consume enormous amounts of resources.
On the other hand, engaging the workforce in creating a safer workplace helps deliver on the promise of
supporting customers, Hafey says. “But only if you think of safety as continuous improvement rather than
only compliance and a cost.”
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 9
It has been embraced, ignored, misunderstood and
even derided, but lean’s
proponents continue to exhort its value as a driver of
By Jill Jusko
Does it seem like lean has been under
attack recently? For example, several lean
proponents were up in arms in the wake
of a July article in the Wall Street Journal.
The article outlined component shortages faced by Apple and Nissan Motor, and
concluded that in part “the drawbacks of
lean manufacturing methods” were to
blame, augmented by an overstretched
global supply chain. Shoddy investigative reporting, commented one lean
proponent about the article. Apple has
never been considered a lean company,
pointed out another. Lean has been completely misconstrued, said yet a third.
Toyota’s recent woes, too, have been
cited as an example of the failure of lean,
a position frequently opposed by those
who claim the failure was Toyota’s straying from its own Toyota Production System (TPS), the epitome of a lean production system.
At the other end of the spectrum
are the manufacturing companies and
plants that extol the great productivity
and other operational gains they have
reaped through their implementations
of lean manufacturing. Indeed, over the
past five years more than 90% of finalists and winners of IndustryWeek’s own
Best Plants competition, which recognizes manufacturing excellence, reported
implementing lean manufacturing to a
significant degree or more. Those same
plants reported median 30% reductions
in manufacturing cycle times over the
past three years, median scrap reductions of 33% and median productivity
improvements of 24%.
Why the diversity of opinions regarding lean? If you speak with lean experts,
a possible answer rears its head. That answer is that people are confused -- both
about what defines lean as well as how
to implement lean. Get that confusion
straightened out and the value of lean as
a driver of operational excellence grows
What is Lean?
What precisely constitutes “lean” has
been a challenge for many since the term
joined the manufacturing lexicon more
than 15 years ago. The term was coined
by researchers led by James Womack to
describe how Toyota ran its business.
On Womack’s Lean Enterprise Institute
website, lean’s core idea is described in
this way: “to maximize customer value
while minimizing waste. Simply, lean
means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.” Lean thinking,
the explanation continues, “changes the
focus of management from optimizing
separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow
of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally
across technologies, assets, and departments to customers.”
In reality, the definition of lean frequently varies depending upon whom
you speak with -- whether it should or
not. “I have always said if you had 100
lean practitioners in the room and asked
for a definition, you might get 80 answers
and about 20 themes, mostly around the
tools of lean,” says Sue Gillman, a partner
with Aveus LLC.
Lean is strategic, states Rick Bohan,
principal of Chagrin River Consulting. He
says that done right, lean should provide
an organization with substantial core
capabilities that are difficult for other
companies to emulate even over the
longer term. A sustained competitive advantage is how he describes it. Few lean
experts likely would find fault with that
That said, managers don’t always view
lean in that fashion. “They tend to implement [lean] as if it were simply tactical,”
Bohan says. “They view it as simply a set
of cost-cutting tools. Lean means providing better service to the customer at the
same or lower cost, and looking at it simply as a set of cost-cutting tactics often
can send a company down the wrong
road.” Unfortunately, there exist literature and even consultants who reinforce
that viewpoint, Bohan adds.
The definition of lean is “pretty subjective,” agrees lean expert Art Smalley.
“The analogy I use is the four blind men
and the elephant, and they’re all touching a different part of the elephant and
they’re all trying to tell you the truth of
what they’re seeing or touching, but it’s
not the whole.” Smalley is among the few
Americans who have worked at Toyota
in Japan, and he makes a distinction
between lean and TPS. He is author or
co-author of several books about lean,
including “Creating Level Pull” and “Understanding A3 Thinking.”
The lack of an agreed-upon definition
may play a part in the current state of
lean, which Smalley describes as a mixed
bag. There are isolated success stories,
he says, as well as a few plants that are
implementing lean without results. Then,
he says, there is a large pack in the middle that have started on the lean path,
using a variety of tools and wondering
why they’re not getting better results.
“They’re starting to question themselves,
which is a good thing,” Smalley says.
Lack of a clear definition may impact
peoples’ perceptions about what lean is.
It may contribute to lean implementation outcomes. But execution -- or lack
thereof -- is a significant contributor to
a lean implementation’s success. That’s
because lean is ultimately about solving problems. “The lean movement has
been characterized by a tool-based em-
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 10
phasis,” Smalley says. People fall in love
with tools like pull systems, 5S and standardized work, for example, and forget
to problem-solve. “You really have to put
[the tools] in the right structure and context with problem solving discipline to
improve productivity, quality, cost, delivery, whatever dimension you are focusing on,” he says.
Who is Doing Lean?
Good data to identify how many manufacturers are employing or attempting
to employ lean are difficult to come by.
Lean guru Norman Bodek suggests that
maybe half of U.S. manufacturing companies are into some aspect of lean.
“Many do run kaizen blitzes, but only a
fraction are truly committed to using
all of the aspects of lean,” he suggests.
“As an example, I feel that only 1% have
the person ‘pull the cord’ [to] stop the
process when they discover a problem.”
Bodek, an author and publisher, has
traveled to Japan more than 50 times to
bring Japanese manufacturing methodologies, including the Toyota Production
System, to U.S. industry to help improve
quality and productivity.
Bodek is leading a week-long lean
study tour to Japan in September, which
quickly sold out, seeming evidence of
lean’s continued draw. While that news
is good, it’s only 24 travelers, points out
Bodek. “We should have 24,000 wanting
to go,” he says.
Thomas & Betts Corp. is among the
manufacturing companies that have
embraced lean in its operations. Most
of the plants use some lean tools every
day, says Herb Bradshaw, plant manager
at Thomas & Betts’ Athens, Tenn., facility,
a 2005 IW Best Plants winner. Whether
it be from when customers think about
purchasing a product, to using pull on
the manufacturing floor, to working with
suppliers, or to stabilizing processes -“We use lean in everything we do.”
And lean continues to reap dividends
for the Athens plant, even as it has been
a constant for nearly 10 years. For example, he points to a recent team effort that
improved throughput in a cell by 40%. “It
never ceases to amaze me.” Like others,
Bradshaw also shared his belief that an
operation never fully implements lean,
“because you always see more things to
Companies’ lean implementations frequently focus on singular aspects of the
process rather than the whole, suggest
several lean experts. For example, Smalley opines that quality is underemphasized. Just-in-time and flow seem to take
precedence even though “jidoka” -- or
quality built in during the manufacturing process -- is a pillar of equal importance to JIT in the Toyota Production System. Jidoka, which Toyota translates as
automation with a human touch, means
that equipment stops running when it
detects a defect and ultimately when
processing is complete.
That ties into another difference between lean and TPS outlined by Smalley
-- the production equipment. TPS emphasizes the importance of quality machine tools, with significant emphasis on
developing better machines that break
down infrequently. That’s not so much
the case with lean, he opines. People
often take the machinery for granted,
while they will point out the kanban system or a standardized work chart. The
equipment is underappreciated because
what is happening is invisible inside the
machine, he says. For many people, “You
walk by all these big machines, and you
don’t even know what you’re looking at,”
At the other extreme is the human
side of lean, an aspect Bodek says U.S.
companies tend to overlook. Bodek
cites automotive industry supplier Autoliv as one example of a manufacturer
doing a good job of addressing the human side of lean. Last year at an Ogden,
Utah, Autoliv plant, he notes, managers
received 63 implemented ideas per person. “They are an excellent example of a
lean plant. People are encouraged to use
their brains, opposite to the [Frederick]
Taylor concept of asking the workers not
to think.” That’s not to say it doesn’t still
have a ways to go, he adds. Even Toyota,
Bodek says, has not designed work for
the full potential of its people’s talent.
Lean is never successful without substantial involvement from employees at
all levels, adds Bohan. In most companies, that requires a substantial culture
change, an aspect of lean that Bohan
says frequently is ignored. Adds Bodek:
“People should be empowered at every
level based on their experiences, expertise and knowledge, but our management system asks everyone before
change takes place to get permission
and that permission is rarely granted.
There is a great fear of making mistakes
and yet making mistakes is one of the
only ways we learn.”
Aveus’ Gillman cautions that lean
gains are not sustainable without employee buy-in and involvement, at least
“not if the employee is expected to participate in the new process, or way of doing things, over time.”
She adds, “Lean generates a lot of excitement and initial buy-in to the process
and solution. However, the test of sustainability is if you can move the people
who instituted the change and the process remains robust.”
What Next for Lean?
The lean movement continues to
grow and evolve, moving beyond manufacturing production and into areas such
as product development, administrative,
information technology and accounting.
It has moved beyond the manufacturing
industry as well, most notably into the
health care industry.
Smalley suggests that asking what’s
next for lean is a question that may be
posed too soon. He remains focused on
today, noting there is still plenty in the
here and now to address. “When we have
100% uptime, 100% quality, short lead
times, then we can worry about tomorrow,” he says. “If you want to get results,
you have to address your problems of
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 11
Lean for Machines
Applying continuousimprovement strategies to
maintenance can help your plant
run like a well-oiled machine.
By Josh Cable
Before General Cable Corp. began its lean journey about a
decade ago, Mark Thackeray, senior vice president for North
American operations, says the company’s maintenance personnel were kind of like firefighters -- responding to equipCarlos Garcia conducts an analysis of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) at
ment breakdowns as quickly as possible.
General Cable’s facility in Des Plaines, Ill.
But now that the Highland Heights, Ky.-based manufacturer of wire and cable products has implemented lean stratPhoto courtesy of Gemeral Cable Corp.
egies at many of its North American plants, Thackeray notes
that the company has shifted from a “reactionary mainte- breakdowns, schedule preventive maintenance activities,
nance” mode to a “preventive and predictive maintenance” anticipate its needs for maintenance parts and automatically
issue purchase orders before machine maintenance work is
“[W]hat we’ve changed in our philosophy about main- performed, according to Thackeray.
tenance in the lean environment is you have to be much
“That has helped us to be much more compliant in workmore involved and proactive in ensuring the reliability of order completion,” Thackeray explains. “It’s allowed us to
machines instead of running to the problem when they’re schedule the time we need to maintain our machines in a
broken down,” Thackeray explains.
preventive mode instead of running
Another shift since General Cable
them to failure, without disappointing
Lean Tools for Maintenance
embarked on its lean journey in North
customers on work orders. And it’s alA number of common lean tools can be applied
America has been the company’s eflowed us to minimize our investment in
to the maintenance function to remove waste
fort to squeeze additional output -- or
MRO [maintenance, repair and operain the delivery of maintenance services and
“entitlement capacity” -- from its extions] inventory, yet still have better upimprove equipment performance and reliability.
isting equipment rather than buying
time on machines.”
new equipment when plants reach full
Thackeray notes that maintenance
capacity. To achieve this, the company
personnel are embedded with plants’
• 5-S (sort, straighten, scrub/shine,
has focused on improving its overall
natural work teams, a departure from
standardize and spread/sustain)
• Elimination of the “Seven Deadly Wastes”
equipment effectiveness (OEE), a meathe “old traditional factory” days when
(overproduction, waiting, transportation,
surement that shows the percentage of
“maintenance was a very prized set of
processing, inventory, motion and
time that equipment, when running or
skills tucked away in the corner.” Having
required for production, is producing
maintenance and production personnel
• Standardized workflow
• Value-stream mapping
good-quality products at current rate
co-located not only has had an impact
(or speed) compared with theoretical
on OEE rates but also on metrics such
• Kanban (pull system and visual cues)
maximum rate. (OEE is calculated by
• Autonomation (quality at the source)
multiplying uptime rate by production
“So rather than having maintenance
rate by first-pass quality rate.)
in a separate corner of the building, we
“Here we look to maintenance as a
like maintenance to actually have their
Source: “Applying Lean Concepts to the Maintekey stakeholder in improving the uplocation in the cell, in the value stream
nance and Reliability Function” a presentation
time leg of the OEE metric, and finding
-- we like their toolbox to be front and
by Bruce Hawkins of the Management Resources
us additional capacity without spending
center of the cell -- and for them to be
money on machines,” Thackeray says.
part of that work team that has ownGeneral Cable has implemented a
ership of the mini factory,” Thackeray
number of continuous-improvement strategies to pursue explains. “In so doing, they have daily contact with operaits maintenance objectives, including investing in a formal tors. So when an operator has a safety concern, they can pull
computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). maintenance right over and they can figure out the way to
Through its CMMS, General Cable can track equipment address that unsafe condition immediately.”
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 12
When their natural work team conducts a lean activity unplanned machine downtime.
such as a kaizen event or a single-minute exchange of dies
Plant manager Matt Walker points out that the facility has
(SMED) improvement, maintenance personnel routinely par- added visual indices (such as red and green stripes) on gaugticipate, Thackeray says.
es to make it easy for operators to determine if equipment is
“We may have a kaizen to develop a visual factory re- running within its acceptable parameters. If a gauge “starts
plenishment signal for a feeding operation. Maintenance creeping up or getting closer to the high side,” the operator
will be involved in that for a number of reasons,”
can log it on his or her TPM sheet for the day, and
he explains. “One is to help design the physical atthe supervisor would enter a maintenance work
tributes of the pull signal, whether that’s putting
order, Walker explains.
lines on the floor, a containerized replenishment
“The operator may not have the training and
signal, and on lights or something of that nature.
skillset in electrical and hydraulics troubleshootBut they also help on the upfront design of that
ing, but they understand the basic functions of
to come up with low-maintenance solutions. From
the machine and how it normally runs, and how it
a safety perspective, they look at it from a prehas run,” Walker says.
operations standpoint and ask, ‘Does this create a
The Carrier -- Carlyle facility, which was named
“Here we look to maintrip hazard? Does this create a pinch point? Does tenance as a key stake- one of IndustryWeek’s Best Plants in 2009, has
this create an unsafe condition or allow for an un- holder in improving
achieved some impressive results from its TPM
safe act that we can solve before we ever put it in the uptime leg of the
approach and lean strategies. The plant’s averOEE metric, and finding
age machine availability rate last year was 99.5%.
us additional capacSince applying continuous-improvement princi- ity without spending
Meanwhile, the plant has reduced the number of
ples to maintenance, General Cable’s North Ameri- money on machines.”
maintenance hours by about 20% over the past
can plants, on average, have achieved a 40% im- -- Mark Thackeray,
three years, according to Walker.
provement in their OEE rates over the past decade. senior vice president,
Bruce Hawkins, director of field operations for
Still, General Cable, which has had multiple plants operations
the Southbury, Conn.-based professional services
named IndustryWeek Best Plants winners over the
firm Management Resources Group Inc., is a big
years (including two plants in 2009), is striving to
believer in the power of TPM to “help lean out the
improve those rates.
maintenance processes.” He notes that the TPM
“I don’t view it as world-class until you get to the 85% philosophy emphasizes the importance of engaging “anyrange,” Thackeray says.
body who has anything to to do with the physical assets of
the plant” in “managing and caring for” those assets.
The Power of TPM
Hawkins adds that with proper training, “it’s perfectly OK
to have operators be responsible for the basics of mainteLike many IndustryWeek Best Plants winners and finalists, nance.”
General Cable practices total productive maintenance (TPM),
“We call the basics of maintenance ‘TLC’: tightening, lua comprehensive approach to maximizing equipment effec- bricating and cleaning,” Hawkins explains. “And just like I’m
tiveness. The objectives of TPM are to eliminate
responsible for that on my own car, operators
waste, reduce defects, maximize productivity and
should be responsible for that on the machines
engage the work force, and it is considered a key
they operate everyday. They’re the ones who, in
enabler of a lean maintenance strategy.
essence, own the reliability for their equipment. I
One important component of TPM, as noted by
don’t expect the guy down at the garage to own
Lafayette Hill, Pa.-based maintenance consultant
the reliability of my car -- I do that by taking care
and author Joel Levitt in his book “Lean Mainteof the basics.”
nance,” is encouraging operators “to take a greater
While a big part of TPM is operator empowerrole in the health and productivity of the machines
ment, an equally important aspect is how it cre“It’s perfectly OK to have
they are tending.”
ates a collaborative relationship between two
operators be responAt the Carrier -- Carlyle Compressor Facility in sible for the basics of
commonly disparate functions -- maintenance and
Stone Mountain, Ga., for example, operators con- maintenance.”
operations -- asserts John Kravontka, president of
duct daily “PMs” -- inspections based on checklists -- Bruce Hawkins, direc- manufacturing solutions for Manchester, Conn.tor of field operations,
of performance and safety criteria specific to their firm Management
based Fuss & O’Neill Manufacturing Solutions LLC.
machines -- and typically are empowered to clean, Resources Group Inc.
“In so many plants we walk into, you’ll see the opinspect and change filters on their machines as
erators in one corner saying, ‘Man if maintenance
well as check gauges to make sure their machines
could fix this equipment better and if they knew
are operating within defined operating parameters, accord- what they were doing, it would run a lot better,’” Kravontka
ing to Greg Bailey, facilities manager. In some cases, opera- says. “And maintenance is in the other corner saying, ‘If the
tors also may perform some fluid changes.
operators didn’t mess up the equipment and they knew how
While the daily operator PMs are just one level of preven- to operate it, this thing would work better.’ It’s maintenance
tive maintenance conducted on machines (a work-order versus the operators, and maintenance versus operations.
system generates a schedule of weekly, monthly and annual The TPM process helps us pull both of them together to work
routine maintenance), Bailey notes that the operator PMs are as a team to improve the equipment performance and reli“our first line of defense” against problems that could lead to ability.”
IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 13
Don’t Let Size be a Lean Barrier
Small manufacturers have advantages when it comes to implementing lean.
By Jill Jusko
The state of lean manufacturing across North America is
largely a matter of anecdotal evidence. And what evidence
there is focuses primarily on larger manufacturers -- Toyota,
Danaher, Ford and even significantly smaller companies than
those behemoths. However, frequently left out of the mix is the
small manufacturer, whose annual revenue may top out at $50
The state of lean among these small manufacturers? “My
sense is there’s a world of opportunity out there,” says Rick Bohan, principal, Chagrin River Consulting, acknowledging the
lack of hard data.
He suspects not as many small companies are implementing
lean as should be or as well as they could be. In some respects,
one could point to the literature about lean as a culprit in the
lack of implementation. Bohan says it is easy to get an impression from lean literature that lean is a big-company initiative.
Small firms likely don’t have the resources to have a full-time,
separate lean champion or spend three days to train everyone
on lean methods, both of which are frequently cited in stories
about lean implementations.
Small companies can also point to the reality that everyone
already is wearing two or three hats. “They’ll say we’re already
pretty lean,” Bohan says. “We make these parts and we send
them right out.”
Bohan some of that comes from not fully understanding
lean, a challenge that besets companies of all sizes. Bohan in-
cludes in his definition of lean:
* It is strategic not simply tactical. It results in substantial capabilities that are tough for other companies to emulate.
* It focuses on customer service.
* It always involves a substantial change to the company culture. Improvements don’t stick if culture change isn’t a
part of lean, he says.
The question companies should be asking is “Can we put a
better product in the customer’s hands exactly when the customer wants it, in the form and format the customer wants it,
every time without error or delay,” Bohan says. “That’s the question that should be driving the lean initiative. Not so much ‘Can
we reduce the cost of what we’re doing now.’”
The consultant points out that small companies actually have
some advantages over large companies when it comes to implementating lean, especially with respect to the all-important
aspect of culture change. In smaller manufacturers, the CEO’s
office may be right next to operations. He can -- quite literally
-- speak to everyone on a daily basis to discuss the lean implementation and how each individual is feeling or reacting to it. It
may also be easier to see when the workforce is beginning to divert from the lean implementation or when everyone’s energy
is beginning to fade. As a result, a smaller firm can more quickly
get back on track.
“Feedback loops are short [in small firms]. That’s an advantage to implementing lean,” Bohan says.
Also, “My experience has been the results show up more
quickly and substantially in small companies.”
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IW | The Manufacturer’s Guide to Lean | 14