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In an overview of lean, Fox News notes that General Electric estimates it has saved up to four direct labor hours, worth about $60, off every refrigerator the company manufactures. The story - with video - also cited Herman Miller, a furniture company based in Zeeland, MI, for reportedly quadrupling productivity by tailoring the Toyota method to its own system.
To dig deeper, read the LEI lean case study about how Herman Miller weathered the recession with its lean business system: http://www.lean.org/common/display/?o=1126
On his first day as Vermont Castings new general manager, Fred Howe said an employee walked up to him and announced, "I have this idea to shorten the time it takes for this job.” An eight-hour process became a 25-minute one. Such employee involvement is a big reason why Castings' lean effort is winning work back from China.
Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, Columbus, IN, has focused on involving more associates in maintenance. “Right now we have 19 maintenance associates and nearly 4,000 pieces of equipment to maintain. The only way you can maintain that high a number of equipment is to have maintenance part of everyone’s responsibility,” a company official told Plant Engineering, which named the facility its 2010 Top Plant.
As policymakers and business leaders work to rebuild and reimagine a struggling U.S. economy, GE is not only at the center of the conversation about new manufacturing, it is helping to drive it. In 2011, having recently brought 3,000 manufacturing jobs back home to Louisville, KY, GE partnered with the Lean Enterprise Institute to satisfy a clear business need: Could LEI help GE build a radically new management system at Appliance Park, one that would support new production and product development systems?
Jamie Swan, production manager at Duraweld Ltd. in Scarborough, England, explains how the plant launched a lean effort in 2006 and reports on the results. The company makes specialty plastic stationery-protection products. (The Binding Edge)
Having problems implementing pull systems, continuous flow, or more advanced lean tools? It's probably time to get back to basics -- the basic stability of your equipment.
Higher overseas costs and domestic demand for custom products delivered quickly have led manufacturers to apply lean principles to keep production in the U.S. In fact, producers of complicated industrial goods may shift out-sourced production back to the U.S. However, the production of simple, high-volume consumer products probably won't return. One example of this trend is the Epson plant in Hillsboro, OR. After losing the printer business to China and Indonesia, plant management applied lean principles to offset the lower labor costs in Asia. The plant's defect rate plunged to 300 per million and cartridges produced per employee increased about 40%. Production is up 200% percent from 2001 levels. Another example is Hayward Pool products of Elizabeth, NJ, which adopted lean and six sigma methods to keep most of its production in the U.S. even though a competitor from China entered its market. The story cites six factors causing a reversal in off-shoring manufacturing. (Published online by Manufacturing.net.)
In a clip from April 2012, CBS News reports on Buck Knives bringing jobs back to the U.S.
Read a lean management case study of the company’s lean transformation, Knife Company Hones Competitiveness by Bucking the Status Quo: http://www.lean.org/common/display/?o=811
Read an lean leadership series interview with company CEO C.J. Buck on the challenges that a transformation brings to senior managers. http://www.lean.org/common/display/?o=480