Another Wisconsin Lean Story

Appleton Post-Crescent: Little Chute company sees a sharp future

Here’s another story about a small company in Wisconsin — they’re using Lean to get more competitive. Valley Grinding & Manufacturing (nicknamed “VG”) makes equipment that’s used to sharpen blades and grinders. Wisconsin seems to have a real concentration of Lean stories, both in factories and hospitals like ThedaCare. Or maybe the newspapers just like writing about Lean more up there. From the article:

For the lean venture, the company brought aboard Pete L’Empereur, continuous improvement manager, in late 2006. Van Vreede said they started on the manufacturing side of the operation where they see their biggest return. The lean measures next will be applied to the sharpening side of the firm.

A $425,000 machinery expansion is designed to accommodate a “one piece” flow of product through manufacturing. “The whole flow aspect is huge,” L’Empereur said. “Anytime you have to stop and start and stack and unstack work, it causes a lot of inefficiency.”

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There’s not much detail in the story, but it’s always great to see small companies taking control of their destiny. Hard work, business acumen, and Lean is always nicer to see than excuses and complaining, as we often see from large companies. Good luck with your lean efforts, “VG.”

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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