I make a point of bookmarking various lean-related stories I come across. Some of them provide an interesting take on the subject, some are of companies that do a good or bad job of implementing lean, and some can be combined into an interesting analysis of a unique aspect of lean. I was rummaging through my saved articles to see what I wanted to blog about today, and decided that the variety of stories was a perspective all its own. So here’s just a sampling of what came across the wires in the past week:
Wausau manufacturer increases production, jobs. We’ve blogged quite a bit about companies that don’t quite get lean, and use it as a way to eliminate jobs and knowledge. This story is about Marathon Electric, a company that seems to understand what lean is really about. And the great news is that they leveraged a small $50,000 grant to kick start their program. That small sum helped turn into 100 new jobs and a 60 percent increase in domestic production. Not a bad ROI.
Doug Herbert and Snap-On Introduce Innovative Process to Drag Racing. The application of lean techniques, especially quick changeover, to auto racing is pretty obvious. We’ve even talked about it before. But the Snap-On Tools racing team is going to one of the best, the Shingijutsu group. "Following the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals the consultants will study how the team completes the between round engine rebuild process, seeking ways to help reduce time, increase efficiency, and provide the team with a competitive, innovative edge." Should be interesting to watch.
Aerosonic Announces Consolidation of Manufacturing Operations. Here’s a company that is consolidating manufacturing to "focus on continuous improvements in our processes and optimize lean manufacturing opporutnities." Ok I won’t go into the usual rant of how that can be counterproductive to lean itself, as sometimes consolidation is can shorten supply chains, reduce inventory, and such. Although they are whacking knowledge, which gets on my nerves. But what I found intriguing is that the company went to the effort to put out numerous press releases promoting the fact that they are closing an operation and eliminating many knowledge assets. Hmmm…
Jarvis Aims to be Lean with Five-Unit Lithrone. I had to read this just to learn what a "five unit Lithrone" was… it sounded like a high tech toilet. Turns out it is a fast, high-quality, and rapidly-reconfigurable printing press. Jarvis Print managing director Nigel Reeves knows the value created by lean: "I don’t believe all orders are price driven – if we can offer our customers that bit extra, such as guaranteed on-time delivery, people are happy to take these benefits into consideration." Of course we’re still big fans of print on demand technology… real one piece flow.
An Answer to the Attacks Launched by Airbus. This is an odd one… socialists attacking lean. Actually it is just a small part of an article on socialists attacking Power8. You would think that lean’s focus on the knowledge and value side of workers would actually appeal to socialists, as much as I have to hold my nose to say that. But this article blames lean and the reduction of time between order and delivery for pushing down wages and reducing staff at short notice. While we’ve talked about the problems with politicians running manufacturing companies, they call for more state intervention. Running dogs! Unite against imperialism!
So there’s last week. Let’s see what bizarre tales the next week brings.