Revolutionizing Manufacturing with Software: A Discussion on Lean Principles with Dave Gleditsch – LeanBlog Podcast #14


LeanBlog Podcast #14 is a discussion with Dave Gleditsch, the Chief Technology Officer for Pelion Systems, a leading provider of software for lean manufacturing applications.

I first met Dave after I read his Industry Week columns and traded some emails with him. He has a great background in manufacturing and lean, so I think he has an interesting perspective to share on lean and technology.

Don't worry, this podcast isn't a sales pitch for Pelion's software. I think you'll enjoy the discussion.

Show Notes and Approximate Time, Episode #14

  • 2:00 What prompted you to write your first column?
  • 2:30 The real issue was a poor definition of what lean really is, lean has some very concrete things for improving and innovating.
  • 3:30 It's not just cost cutting, it's about maximizing customer value with the minimum required resources.
  • 4:20 At American Standard, lean helped save the company, but it also became a platform for growth
  • 5:00 Do traditionally cost driven people automatically focus on lean as only a cost cutting tool?
  • 6:00 In the boardrooms, the real cost is gross margin expansion — impacting the top line AND the bottom line (lean and six sigma are great tools for that). You can't just cut costs on the path to growth.
  • 7:00 How first introduced to lean concepts?
  • 9:20 Had a lot of lean experience at HP in the 1980's, worked with Shingo, Hall, Schonberger, etc. Had to try to interpret the original Shingo “Green Book.” (A Study of the Toyota Production System from an Industrial Engineering Viewpoint)
  • 10:40 Hall's book Zero Inventories
  • 11:00 Dave working with Shigeo Shingo
  • 12:00 More about Dave's experiences with lean at American Standard
  • 15:20 What is Pelion Systems? What services and technology do they offer?
  • 18:40 Pelion had the first web kanban portal
  • 19:10 What business problem is Pelion helping to solve?
  • 20:45 Can technology help speed up or further a culture change?
  • 24:00 You have to look at more than manufacturing, but also at how different parts of the companies work together.
  • 25:20 What about The Toyota Way principle about technology? “Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes.” What about the anti-technology bias that tends to exist in the lean world?
  • 30:15 What about companies who have been burned by ERP or technology promises in the past? Does that make it challenging for a software company today? What about technology vendors who seem to promise a “silver bullet” solution for manufacturers?
  • 35:00 Is the software industry learning from past rollout mistakes? Are companies using the technology evolving?
  • 35:25 How Pelion operates with a clear customer charter, business case, etc.

If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 993-0630 or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast.

Visit the main LeanBlog Podcast page with all previous episodes.

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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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