My name is Pete Lambie and I work as a consultant for the Brisbane, Australia-based company Kaon Consulting. Kaon Consulting works with small to medium-sized local manufacturers to implement better business practices. I recently had the privilege of spending two weeks assessing local manufacturers with Bill Waddell.
How, when and why did you get introduced to lean and what fueled and fuels the passion?
I was first introduced to lean while working as an engineer for a Schneider Electric Plant in Brisbane, Australia. In late 2003 their (and my) lean journey began. With the help of outside Schneider consultants our small lean team spent 6 weeks analysing the operation in depth. It was this hands-on learning opportunity where the light bulb flicked on and that fueled my passion for lean. From here we immediately reconfigured the entire plant layout so that it flowed, controlled the WIP, implemented regular material replenishments and set up hourly/daily shopfloor performance measurement. The productivity improvements, WIP reduction and reduced time through process were outstanding. What impressed me most about the implementation was that we didn’t make any fundamental changes to the way the product was put together, we just ensured that the product flowed.
What is the most powerful aspect of lean?
For most of the companies that I deal with, their main issues arise from not having the right materials, at the right place, at the right time. So for me, the most powerful aspect of lean is achieving flow. Setting up a system or layout that sees information and material flow in a logical sequence, with no backward steps, is powerful. It immediately allows anyone, even an untrained operator, to see what needs to happen next and where the problems lie.
What is the most misunderstood or unrecognized aspect of lean?
What in your opinion is the biggest opportunity for lean in today's world? How can that be accomplished?
Lean is proven, it works and the concepts are not that difficult to grasp. However its implementation usually involves dramatic changes in the way things were previously done. Making this happen takes some commitment on a company-wide scale. This is why the majority of companies who have announced they have started lean have shown little or no long term improvements. So the biggest opportunity for lean is the competitive advantage it offers for those companies who really “get it”.