There are an increasing number of lean manufacturing and lean enterprise events each year, however a few really stand out from the crowd:
- Association for Manufacturing Excellence Annual Conference. The last two AME conferences have been the "largest lean conference in North America", with over 1,000 attendees each. AME sets itself apart by being practioner-based, therefore the workshops and seminars are given by real-world industry professionals. There is also always a group of presentations on "lean beyond manufacturing", which describe how lean can impact health care, government, etc. One highlight of last October’s conference was a debate, moderated by CNN’s Larry King, on the impact of China. The 2005 conference is in Boston in early November, and may sell out early.
- Industry Week’s Best Plants Conference. For fifteen years Industry Week magazine has selected the top ten plants among both large and small manufacturers. At the conference the executives and change agents from those plants present their stories, and of particular interest, the lessons learned. In addition there are seminars and panel discussions on a range of manufacturing excellence topics. The 2005 conference is in Nashville in mid-May.
- Shingo Prize Annual Conference. Business Week magazine has referred to the Shingo Prize as the "Nobel Prize of Manufacturing". Companies that win the prize go through an extensive audit of lean manufacturing and general enterprise excellence activities. At the annual conference there are presentations by the winners, as well as a large number of workshops and seminars. The 2005 conference will be held in Grand Rapids in mid-April.
- AME Canadian Region Conference. Probably the best of the regional conferences, the Canadian chapter of AME is putting on their annual conference in Edmonton in June of 2005. Following the AME philosophy, the workshops and seminars are practitioner-based.
Listening to others who have experienced the lean journey and succeeded is always motivating. It is also exciting to hear of the incredible potential of lean manufacturing. Attending at least one of these conferences is highly recommended.