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By Drive, Inc. on Thursday 15 March 2012.

I had an interesting discussion with a department manager at a client today. For the purpose of this newsletter (and to protect his identity), I’ll call him Zeke. Zeke’s company is part of a multinational conglomerate and he found himself continually frustrated by the company’s many functional silos. He was frustrated by an IT department that refuses to make simple improvements that would have an incredible impact on productivity. Why? Reason given, “Because we don’t have the resources.” I would submit to you that any organization that only looks at the resources needed to do an activity and does not consider the benefit (cost savings, margin contribution, cost avoidance, cash flow) is doomed to eventual failure. It might take a while, but that kind of thinking will kill the entrepreneurial spirit and will eventually kill a company.


By Drive, Inc. on Tuesday 14 February 2012.

We work with numerous companies that functionally separate design and manufacturing. Typically, they are separated geographically and through the reporting structure; not meeting up again until we reach the senior VP level or above. We also observe that the cost savings focus for both groups is kept separate. However, sometimes we have the opportunity to work with the design and manufacturing group cross-functionally to enhance design and improve cost. This process, known as Value Analysis – Value Engineering (VAVE) allows us to realize cost savings that we simply do not get working alone in the functional silos.


By Drive, Inc. on Saturday 14 January 2012.

I am often asked, “What is the most important principle of Lean manufacturing?” By far, the most important principle is stopping to fix problems. It is perhaps also one of the most misunderstood principles, and not an easy one to implement, because it involves changing Management behavior. The big misconception is that “stopping to fix problems” means “stopping production to fix problems.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Toyota knows better than anyone that you had better satisfy the customer… and the customer doesn’t want a delay in receiving their goods or services from us while we are fixing our problems. Rather, the first step of robust problem response is the restoration of flow. Any manufacturer that can’t figure that out will not be in business very long. Instead, “stopping to fix problems” means “stopping Management to fix problems.” Management usually thinks they are too busy to fix problems. Why Management? Management sets direction, Management controls resources, Management can remove barriers, and Management has the responsibility to grow competent problem-solvers.ding of the problems.


By Drive, Inc. on Thursday 15 December 2011.

I’m in St. Louis today, and there is a reason why I can’t see the Statue of Liberty from the top of the Gateway Arch. As it turns out, the earth is spherical in shape and due to the curvature of the earth our line of sight is limited to only a few miles – at best. Even from an airplane we can see very little of the earth. When I fly home tomorrow and the jet is approaching Greenville, SC, I will not even be able to see Asheville, NC, only about 60 miles away. Of course, this is a surprise to no one reading this article. When we discuss this concept in manufacturing many find True North statements to be surprising and daunting. “True North” is a position from which it is impossible to improve. Some example True North statements are: •100% Value-added time •Zero opportunities for defects (100% of potential failure modes error-proofed) •Zero risks for injury


By Drive, Inc. on Tuesday 15 November 2011.

In previous publications on TPM, we focused on enlisting the operators of the equipment to be more involved in the process of maintaining it. We also discussed implementing systems to monitor and continuously improve the equipment’s Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). TPM allows us to address the low hanging fruit that keeps the equipment from producing as it is intended. Assuming you have instituted TPM, you are now ready to address the other, more difficult aspects of maintenance, which can be addressed with a Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) program.


By Drive, Inc. on Saturday 15 October 2011.

A call from a client stating their machine would not run to the stated capacity. They had tried everything to increase the output. The machine was currently running less than 150ft/sec, which was a far cry from the needed 300ft/s. This client didn’t have the luxury of excess capacity in other presses, so they were hiding this problem with overtime. The amount of overtime was putting a strain on both the hourly associates and management.


By Drive, Inc. on Thursday 15 September 2011.

Once upon a time there was a man (we’ll call him Bill) who decided that he wanted to become a craftsman of fine furniture. Not only did he desire to make it his trade, he wanted to become known as the finest furniture craftsman in the world. To this end, he set out to benchmark the best craftsman in the world. After doing extensive research, he determined exactly who the best furniture craftsman in the world was. This man (we’ll call him Tom) made furniture of incredible quality and durability at a competitive price. What was especially outstanding was that Tom made huge profits, to the point that not only were his products considered the best, but he was also by far the most wealthy furniture craftsman in the world.


By Drive, Inc. on Tuesday 16 August 2011.

Our customers require us to send the product they need in a specific sequence and quantity. Our equipment doesn’t always agree with this need due to complex changeovers, so we build large batches of parts to cover the customer’s demand. This inventory is “tied up cash flow” that could be used to generate income, but instead it burdens us with excess carrying cost. However, our best course of action is to attack the root cause, which is the actual changeover time. This allows us to reduce inventory, increase production capacity, provide greater flexibility, reduce lead-time, and level production. Ultimately, it allows us to be more profitable.


By Drive, Inc. on Friday 15 July 2011.

On any given day, Carol would end her day by throwing away $1,200. As a team leader, she was responsible for tagging and documenting scrap that had been generated by her team that day. She followed a standardized process given to her by the Quality Assurance Department, so that all the material cost could be captured, and so that the scrapped product would not accidentally be used to make product.


By Drive, Inc. on Wednesday 15 June 2011.

As companies begin their Lean journey, they learn early in the process from books, training or consultants that a key component of “Lean” is to build an engaged workforce. We hear about how many improvement ideas are generated by team members at Toyota and the savings that result and we want that kind of “engagement” in our plants. Many countermeasures are tried: Quality Circles, Kaizen Events (which, by the way, is an oxymoron...more on that in a future newsletter), Suggestion Boxes, Self-Directed Work Teams, Surveys (to assess the level of operator engagement) and others, all making the attempt to “engage” the workforce. Typically, the results fall pitifully short of expectations.

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