Another Wisconsin Lean Story


Appleton Post-Crescent: Little Chute company sees a sharp future

Here's another story about a small company in Wisconsin — they're using Lean to get more competitive. Valley Grinding & Manufacturing (nicknamed “VG”) makes equipment that's used to sharpen blades and grinders. Wisconsin seems to have a real concentration of Lean stories, both in factories and hospitals like ThedaCare. Or maybe the newspapers just like writing about Lean more up there. From the article:

For the lean venture, the company brought aboard Pete L'Empereur, continuous improvement manager, in late 2006. Van Vreede said they started on the manufacturing side of the operation where they see their biggest return. The lean measures next will be applied to the sharpening side of the firm.

A $425,000 machinery expansion is designed to accommodate a “one piece” flow of product through manufacturing. “The whole flow aspect is huge,” L'Empereur said. “Anytime you have to stop and start and stack and unstack work, it causes a lot of inefficiency.”

There's not much detail in the story, but it's always great to see small companies taking control of their destiny. Hard work, business acumen, and Lean is always nicer to see than excuses and complaining, as we often see from large companies. Good luck with your lean efforts, “VG.”

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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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