Tag: Factory Examples
The so-called “PICK chart” has become a pretty common sight in healthcare as a way of visualizing and prioritizing Lean or Kaizen improvement ideas. The concept was supposedly invented at Lockheed Martin, but it’s a pretty common-sensical approach that’s used to sort and rank ideas based on two dimensions:
Mark’s Note: Today’s post is by Andy Wagner, who contributed regularly to this blog from 2007 to 2010. This CNN video caught his eye and he couldn’t help blogging about it.
Recently, CNN ran a short piece on Worksman Cycles of New York City highlighting them as the last major bicycle manufacturer left in the United States: “Meet America’s oldest bike maker.”
Mark’s note: Today’s guest post is an excerpt from the book Remarkable by Toby LaVigne. Toby’s bio can be found at the bottom of this post. In this chapter from the book, Toby writes about a good friend of mine and of this blog – Karl Wadensten, the President of VIBCO. You can watch or listen to a podcast I did with Karl a few years back or listen to a public radio story about them.
By Toby LaVigne:
As the founder of Lotus sports cars once said, “Add Lightness.” Lean is about “Adding Lightness,” which, as you know, is really not about “Adding” at all, but about SUBTRACTION. But subtraction is trickier than addition, especially in a society that loves its pills and bandaids. So how do you get employees who are continually soaking in the bandaid paradigm to shift their attention to subtraction?
The word that comes to mind is “Pull.” You can’t push water, and you can’t push people, but you can create a vacuum that draws them toward you. And that vacuum is something I call Remarkability. I’d like to offer this case study on Vibco from my book titled Remarkable as it paints a beautiful picture of the “Pull effect.”
The ‘Pull Effect’ leads people to embrace the challenge of transforming themselves from clock punchers to experts at “adding lightness.”
Joining me for Podcast #178 is Drew Greenblatt, President and Owner of Marlin Steel Wire Products, a manufacturing company based in Baltimore. I was really impressed with Drew’s keynote talk at the recent AME Southwest Region conference here in San Antonio. Drew’s company is successfully competing against cheap Chinese imports by using Lean and “theory of constraints” methods, being passionate about serving customer needs, and making a commitment to (and investment in) his employees.
Whether you’re a manufacturer who is considering “re-shoring” your production (or avoiding off-shoring) or if you’re an organization looking to success by partnering with all of your employees, I think you’ll find Drew inspiring.
- Drew and Marlin Steel Wire are featured in this month’s Fast Company magzine
- Check out
I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to visit an Autoliv factory in Utah – a great Lean company that makes air bags and protective devices for cars and passengers. I was really impressed with Autoliv, as were the healthcare leaders from across North America who visited as part of the Healthcare Value Network efforts. Like healthcare, the work done by Autoliv is a matter of “life or death” with a very strong mission and sense of purpose. The HVN visitors were very impressed with the quality culture and the prompt management support that’s made available when a problem occurs in a production cell.
At the AME Spring Conference in San Antonio, I saw a presentation by Thomas Hartman, a Senior Director at Autoliv: “17 Years on Lessons Learned: Building and Sustaining a Lean Culture.”
I’m “live blogging” the presentation in this post and will update it as the talk goes. Unless in italics the comments are quotes or paraphrases from Thomas.
There was a nice article in the Wall Street Journal this week about the Boeing 737 and some of their Lean and Kaizen (continuous improvement) work: “Boeing Teams Speed Up 737 Output — Jet Maker’s Innovation Crews Search for Ways to Streamline Production as Aircraft Demand Soars.” Boeing needs to increase production by more than 70%, so the company is looking to “rally employees for ways to make its jets more efficiently and avoid expanding its factories and its costs.”
As I was cleaning out a pile of stuff in my office, I found an unread issue of Inc. magazine from June 2011. One of their “Best Small Company Workplaces” was Hopkins Printing in Columbus, Ohio: “Survival of the Smartest: Hopkins Printing has staked its future on cross-training.“)
Far too often, “best workplaces” profiles focus exclusively on the perks and incentives that are offered in a workplace. Things like free backrubs, gourmet meals, and car wash services are somewhat superficial or they are a form of extrinsic motivation.
I love it when organizations, small or large, in any industry, utilize Lean to tap into the intrinsic motivation that’s so powerful in creating an engaging, successful company.
Hopkins is a company with 100 employees and revenue of about $17 million. They are proof that you don’t need to be a huge company to utilize Lean, nor do you need to be a high-volume repetitive manufacturer. As a commercial printing shop, they face a number of competitive challenges that Lean has helped address.
The owner an
Her most recent video features video from her visit to Boeing and their 737 assembly factory. In the brief visit, we can see a few Lean practices in action, or at least alluded to.
Funny ‘Family Guy’ Clip that Illustrates Disdain for Manufacturing; Plus a Clip from FastCap, a Lean Company
Friday, I blogged about a WIRED Magazine piece by Joel Johnson that was pretty disrespectful of manufacturing, in general, as he wrote that “every single manufacturing job ever” was “repetitive, exhausting, and [an] alienating workplace over which you have no influence or authority.” That might describe some factories, but hardly ALL.
I stumbled across this funny Family Guy clip, where Peter Griffin (a factory worker) gets heckled at the school’s career day… maybe this was Joel Johnson growing up? :-)
I’m excited that I have a chance, on Wednesday, to tour the Toyota plant in San Antonio, TX. I’m going with a “Lean Austin” group that has a group tour (I’m flying down from DFW for the day, establishing some ties between our local “Lean DFW” efforts and the Austin group.
As I look ahead to the tour, I’m preparing by looking back and thinking back to my chance to tour the NUMMI plant back in 2005. It may seem like a repeat of material, but many of you weren’t reading my blog back then, so I’m posting some links to my previous posts about NUMMI and adding fresh comments below…
In an era where it was a “no brainer” to move factories to China, chasing cheap labor, the Lean world has often spoken out loudly against this. Back in the day, people said “Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM,” in this era you might say “No CEO ever got fired for moving factories to China. Wall Street applauds the “cost cutting” without looking at the tradeoffs.
China brings cheaper labor (increasingly less so now), but also brings long lead times across the ocean, intellectual property risks, and other challenges (including environmental risks, pictured at left). It’s easier to quantify labor cost savings than it is to quantify the business risk of responding slowly to changes in the market.
Episode 84 is audio from Video Podcast #10 (available on iTunes, YouTube, or leanvideopocast.org). This is a conversation with Karl Wadensten, President of VIBCO, a manufacturer in Wyoming, R.I. Here, we talk about his radio show, “The Lean Nation,” which airs on AM 790 in Rhode Island and streams live on the web everyday weekday at 4 PM eastern — www.790business.com (the show is now defunct).
Click to play:
I’ve been able to get from Boston to VIBCO twice now
Episode #10 is a conversation with Karl Wadensten, President of VIBCO, a manufacturer in Wyoming, R.I. Here, we talk about his radio show, “The Lean Nation,” which (formerly aired) on AM 790 in Rhode Island. This is the same discussion as the audio LeanBlog Podcast episode #84. For more info about Karl and VIBCO, visit that post.
Podcast #83 is an in-depth conversation with Jim D’Addario, the CEO of D’Addario, Inc., a manufacturer of guitar strings, drum heads, and other musical accessories. Jim and his family company were featured on CNN late last year, highlighting how lean manufacturing has helped save and create jobs as part of their business strategy. Jim agreed to speak with me to delve into more detail about their use of lean management principles.
Click to play:
Jim is a hands-on CEO who gets out on the shop floor, which
Yesterday, I recorded a podcast with Jim D’Addario, CEO of the namesake multi-generational family company that was featured recently on CNN. I’ll release that podcast in a few weeks. We had a great conversation that went into more detail about how his company uses Lean as a strategy for competing against cheap labor (and slow supply chains) that are part of the Chinese outsourcing model.
Lean thinkers know that cheap labor isn’t everything, especially when you have to be responsive to customer needs. The linked article from Reuters highlights other companies using Lean as a competitive strategy.
Hat tip to blog reader Steven H. for sending this video my way.
It’s always nice to see Lean featured in the mainstream media, including CNN. Click here for the video at cnn.com.
The story says that the company, a guitar string maker called D’Addario in Long Island, has:
Eve Yen, founder and CEO of Diamond Wipes, is our guest for episode #79 of the podcast. In this podcast, Eve discusses her company and how manufacturing in the United States provides a strong competitive advantage. While not explicitly “Lean,” Eve articulates a value proposition that any Lean Thinker would recognize: manufacturing close to the customer allows for shorter lead times and, for these products, better quality and freshness. Her strategy also allows for just-in-time delivery and ready customization for customers.
I hate to criticize anyone who’s being really successful with Lean. The worst thing I can say about United Southern is to ask, “What made you think Lean was such a gamble and such a risk?”