Here's an article about a company that produces flow ovens for making toasted sandwiches (think Quizno's). As an aside, I've seen Subway is copying Quizno's with toasted subs, but they use a stationary “batch” oven instead of the Quizno's oven which flows along with the customer flow, it's a continuous moving oven. I heard how Quizno's started off by buying old Burger King flow broilers that had been used for hamburgers. That seems “lean” to me in the sense that they were making do with something cheap and found a new purpose for it.
Anyway, details from the company that makes these ovens… they've used flow and lean in the production of the ovens themselves, with good results:
“From became president of the division in August, and since he has come on board, Lincoln Foodservice has sought to involve more employees in the improvement of its lean manufacturing processes.
The division also has put three oven production lines and a heat lamp line through “Kaizen,” a Japanese business term for taking something apart, making it better, and putting it back together.
Switching to a cluster of workstations near necessary tools and parts, from a system where workers brought what they needed for heat lamp assembly to two long production lines and a substation, shortened the lead time to fill orders from three weeks to nearly one day.
Virginia Stewart, who has worked at Lincoln Foodservice 23 years, said the more conventional production system seemed less organized and subject to unforeseen problems.
The new, one-piece flow-through approach, where the product is at each station about 4.5 minutes, seems simpler and “makes the training process easier because they have less to learn at each station,” she said.
From said adopting the new approach has enabled the heat lamp work team to increase its maximum daily production to 75 units from 56 units. And there is room for further improvement, he said, because the team's productivity is affected at times by “issues when suppliers aren't meeting quality expectations.”
In addition to the work to improve its lean manufacturing, the launch of new products by Lincoln Foodservice this year will benefit from more than $1 million the division invested in production equipment in 2005, he said.”
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