A Collection of Lean Success Stories

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    Sometimes these stories come across the wire in batches, there's a flurry of positive Lean news this week:

    Pierce ablaze with orders

    Here' s a story about “lean fire trucks” (and a horrible pun in the newspaper's headline there, don't blame me):

    “We realigned probably 60 percent of our manufacturing processes when we built the new addition,” said James Michal, vice president of manufacturing at the American Drive facility along U.S. 41 in the Town of Menasha.

    “It was in conjunction with ‘lean manufacturing' principles, cost reduction, smoother product flow. We brought most of the assembly over here except for heavy duty rescue assembly and aerial assembly. We brought chassis assembly over to this plant. Most of the welding went back to the other plant (Grand Chute) so we could consume the parts where we manufacture the parts. It saves us a lot of interplant movement.”

    Lakeshore company says lean manufacturing increased profits

    AIM Industries, a metal stamping company, has been in business for over 40 years. Jeanne Duthler had 10 employees when she bought the plant in 1984. Now there are 37, and last year's sales were $5 million. “We are doing the same numbers dollar wise as we did last year, but showing more profit as a result of lean manufacturing,” Duthler says.

    Pasco: Trained to see the big picture

    This is an article about a program in Florida that is training laid off manufacturing employees in advanced manufacturing concepts, including Lean and Six Sigma.

    Adjunct professor Joe Roberts, a former auto industry executive who once worked in China for General Motors, was asking these workers to do something nearly unthinkable half a century ago: think.

    An example of a growing small company that is hiring these workers:

    … Lori Rhoden, controller at Lumedyne Inc. in Port Richey.

    Her company makes state-of-the-art flash equipment for photographers and employs 25 to 30 workers. Employees who start on the assembly line and show initiative are often transferred into supervisory or specialized roles where they can earn $35, 000 to $75, 000, she said.

    “Everyone who works at this company is in charge of quality, ” she said. “You don't just build it through and let it get caught at the quality-control department.”

    And training workers pays off. When Lumedyne implemented the Lean Manufacturing process, its production increased from five units per week to 15 units in three days, Rhoden said.

    That's a lesson Florida companies must come to grips with in a hurry, according to many economic development experts.

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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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