Using Lean to Ship TO CHINA


Neosho Daily News

For a while there, Wisconsin was the hotbed of lean articles. This week, it's Missouri, and both articles are in a small town newspaper, the Neosho Daily News. First, it was La-Z-Boy, now it's K&S Wire.

Who is K&S Wire, you might ask? They're a proud lean company that just shipped their first container TO China. Let me repeat that, they are shipping product TO China. That's much better than shipping empty ocean containers back.

From the article:

That major announcement by company president Gene Schwartz Sr. this morning prompted a standing ovation by those who earlier saw Schwartz receive the Missouri impact! Award by Missouri Enterprise.

The award was given for K&S Wire's continuous improvement in manufacturing excellence and its implementation of “lean” enterprise principles into its everyday operations.

It is because of these principles that Schwartz was able to make the announcement about the shipment to China.

“We took the order to construct 111,000 wire frames that will hold flip-flops,” said Schwartz. “Because of our ‘lean' principles, our price was better than could be found in China. This is a first for us and I hope we will have many more in the future.”

That's very powerful, that the wire products are being shipped to China, they'll be made into final products, and probably mostly shipped back here to the U.S. What if there was a lean flip-flop maker there in Missouri? The supply chain / value stream would that much leaner without two trips back and forth across the ocean.

It sounds like they are on the right track with lean:

‘Lean enterprise is a systematic means of identifying waste in a company's operations and reducing or eliminating those activities that do not add value to the company's products,” said Schwartz. “It is not a way to reduce the work force. For K&S, it's the opposite. As we have embraced a lean culture, we have been able to grow and add employees.”

Why can't the automakers understand this principle??

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.



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