I’ve been collecting some short news items on companies embarking on the lean manufacturing journey, so here are some recent blurbs to clear out the files…
Penn United in Jefferson, PA is a manufacturer of industrial tools.
[President William] Jones’ operation is just one Western Pennsylvania manufacturer affected by imports. Companies that make metal-cutting machine tools face import penetration rates ranging from 30 percent to 70 percent, according to a study on how imports have captured a share of the domestic manufacturing market.
Penn United, which has about 650 employees, uses lean manufacturing techniques to make the machine tools that make other products, such as razors, beer cans, automobile parts and computer parts. Having one worker operate multiple machines at a time can save 8 percent or more in production costs, or maybe shave a few minutes off production time, Jones said.
Willerby Holiday Homes is trying to manage the higher transaction burden that lean’s one piece flow can create. In the interests of saving several paragraphs of ranting, for once I’ll suspend my usual commentary on the downsides of software solutions.
Lean manufacturing involves delivering stock just-in-time to production lines to reduce inventory levels, but this puts pressure on the back office, said Howard Dawson, integrated systems manager at Willerby. "Using lean manufacturing, we are processing about 8,000 invoices a month and raising a much larger number of orders than before," said Dawson.
Embraer cites adaptations to its industrial processes for the 30% increase in deliveries in 2007. One other thing that helped us a lot and we expect is going to help even more in 2008 and 2009 is the lean manufacturing processes that we started implementing in the second half of the year. It is giving very sound results. The lean is something that you start doing it and you don’t stop. We are in very early stages of lean manufacturing techniques but we already have been able to achieve very interesting improvements so people down here are very excited and there are many lean projects under analysis and under implementation.
Then we have United Springs.
By mapping the manufacturing processes to identify delays and wastes, improving workplace organisation, and training staff in lean manufacturing principles, the business was able to eliminate waste and double handling – boosting productivity to save £50,000. The lead time on a key product line was reduced by 15 days to dramatically improve levels of customer service and give the business a key competitive advantage, while inventory levels have been reduced by 10% to free up cash flow.
HID Global in Connecticut has also tasted lean success.
HID Global’s 120 North Haven employees, working under the direction of plant manager Paul Murphy, embraced lean procedures, says [director of lean implementation, John] Uliano. Their efforts were quickly reflected in job improvements for the manufacture of security card and reader technologies, he adds. Among improvements Uliano attributes to lean is a dramatic increase in on-time delivery – from 55 to 95 percent. In addition to measurable improvements, employees now routinely submit ideas that will help the company prosper. Suggestions range from posting signage to developing safety measures. In just one month last year, 312 suggestions were implemented, says Uliano.
According to the visitors — who came from respected companies as diverse as Boeing, Honeywell, Volvo, Hallmark, John Deere, Oral-B, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Labs, HON, Z Corp and Raytheon, among others — there were five key manufacturing aspects that most impressed them. These included: computer displays of work instructions, preventative maintenance, and drawings on press brakes; training videos at workstations for all shifts; Crown’s training center; the overall cleanliness of the factory; and the employee culture of continuous improvement, organization, and minimal downtime. Two company leaders who took the tour have already asked to come back to learn more from Crown. Following the factory tour, Q&A session and overview of Crown’s lean manufacturing evolution — which since 2001 has consolidated 11 batch-and-queue lines into two manufacturing cells and two assembly cells, as well as reduced lead time from five days down to only 12 hours.
Congrats to all of them for their success with lean, and I hope they realize the journey never ends!