What with the weighty subjects of theology and politics dominating Evolving Excellence this week I thought it would be a good idea to end the week on a lighter, higher note. There are a couple of good stories you should read that ought to accomplish the purpose.
First is at some secret location in Canada where Bombardier has the contract to make some 12,000 torches for the folks who relay the flame from Greece to Vancouver for the start of the 2010 Winter Games. Bombardier put a lean wizard by the name of Jean-François Clusiau in charge of the gig and they have a little U shaped cell going where the same guy that feeds the parts to the line packs a torch 8 minutes later after it has flowed through the cell in one piece fashion. I think it is great to see that lean thinking is playing a part in getting the games going – hopefully the organizers will learn from this and see that the entire event can stand a good dose of lean for the benefit of everyone involved.
The other story – a video really – is up at New Balance in Skowhegan, Maine. They are a Boston company and just about the only shoe maker left in the United States. They only make a fourth of their shoes here any more, but the other three fourths are not all low cost country deals – they make shoes in Norway and England; and they are committed to lean manufacturing, as well as to staying in the USA to the extent they can.
The most impressive aspect of New Balance is the commitment they have to their people and the communities in which they do business. This video is great.
Have a great weekend!
Paul Todd says
As an industrial refugee from an athletic apparel company, I am particularly impressed with the New Balance story. I love the video of old buildings filled with new machines and smart people – I am envious of an opportunity lost.
New Balance is interesting in many respects. They’ve upped the game and have managed to market the concept of lean to (some) consumers. Ex: one of the sewing pods at one of New Balance’s US plants has successfully branded itself as “Super Team 33”. Production line #33 is considered to produce the best shoes in the country; their output sells for a premium and are highly collectible.