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Lean and Growth


The Connecticut Post Online – Bridgeport plant powers up for military

Here's an article that talks about a company using lean to support growth. This is an important lesson and concept because growth is what allows us to take efficiency gains without feeling the pressure to get rid of employees.

In December, the U.S. Army asked DRS Technologies' Bridgeport unit to increase production by 30 percent in the next six months. Thursday, DRS Fermont said the Army has increased its orders for Tactical Quiet Generators by about $37 million.

Takt time is going down, the production rate has to go up. The article doesn't talk about it, but think about your current production cells/lines. How flexible are you for a sudden 30% increase in demand? Can you reach that by adding staffing to the area and re-balancing the work? Do you have to add new equipment because of a bottleneck? What is your process for doing all of this?

The company, DRS Technologies, was purchased in January 2006 and has been working on lean since then. So, they are relatively early in their journey, but hopefully lean is really helping them.

Bringing lean manufacturing to a production floor would normally mean a company needs fewer employees, he said, but the Army's request for a ramp-up resulted in the hiring of more assemblers and other workers. By June, he said, Fermont should have more than 275 workers.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. 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 book is the anthology 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. He is currently writing his next book, tentatively titled Measures of Success.

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