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manufacturing on the Lean Post
The Magnificent 7 of Lean Manufacturing
How do you establish stability on a shop floor that’s chaotic? Andrew Quibell recommends “7 manufacturing basics,” his personal selection of lean improvement tools, methodologies, and techniques. And they also boost people’s confidence, helping them sustain improvements.… More »
Tesla vs. TPS: Seeking the Soul in the New Machine
While Tesla has excited customers and drawn praise for innovative design and bold thinking, author Jeff Liker believes that it faces tough challenges in its approach to ramping up production that challenge its mechanistic vision of manufacturing.… More »
Is there a crack in the model of continuous improvement?
Is this a case of déjà vu all over again? The Wall Street Journal says the sterling reputation of “Japanese manufacturing” or kaizen, is tarnished in the wake of several quality inspection scandals. But is this a kaizen crisis or a kaizen kerfuffle that we’ve experienced before? Editor Tom Ehrenfeld sorts it out.… More »
ASK ART: Can poetry be used as a tool for implementing lean?
“Inventory is evil,” said King Arthur of kaizen. So he came to Dame Barbie with his plan. “You must make these horrid racks go away Or February 25 is your banishment day.”… More »
7 Elements of Quality on the Shop Floor
"How do you lean out a quality approach that can work on the shop floor (maybe even compatible in a healthcare environment as well)?" people often ask Andrew Quibell. "How does it look? What should you include?" Read more.… More »
Follow-up Q&A for Jim Lancaster's Work of Management Webinar
“The Real Work of Management” webinar drew very engaged attendees who submitted hundreds of questions. We now present some of the most-frequently asked questions (plus Jim Lancaster's answers) today on the Lean Post.… More »
Advice from the Gemba: Making Repetitive Tasks More Exciting
Repetitive tasks can create a drag on workers' morale and motivation as boredom sets in, and a disillusioned workforce will seriously hamper your lean efforts. So how do you keep repetitive tasks from becoming a source of discontent for your people? Three lean practitioners share their thoughts.… More »
5S - The Way to Start Your Lean Journey…or Is It?
Many people think that a 5S implementation is the perfect way to kickstart a full lean transformation. It can be - IF you do it right. Years ago Dale Savage witnessed a lean disaster at his company that all started with a new 5S program. Find out what happened and how you can keep it from happening to your company.… More »
The Art of Silent Observation
Silent observation is not as intuitive as it may sound. Andrew Quibell often meets people who think it's as simple as standing and watching the work in silence. But there's much more to it than that - learn more in his new sketch and animation.… More »
Managing to Win: The Remarkable Lean Transformation of Phase 2
Revisit the enlightening case study of Phase 2's lean transformation in the face of losing its biggest customer, plus insider info from an interview with CEO Adam Prime.… More »
Job 1?
Ford CEO Mark Fields just decided he needed to cut costs. Then he suddenly realized he had 1400 people he didn't need so decided to eliminate their jobs. Did he need those people two weeks ago? Will he need them two weeks from now?… More »
How Team Leaders Should Divide Their Time
"Through my career, I’ve seen one group of individuals on the shop floor who need the most support and training – yet instead receive weak training and inconsistent support. They are 'team leaders,'" writes Andrew Quibell. In his new sketch and animation, Quibell lays out a time-tested, Toyota-inspired plan to help these essential team leaders hold their own in times of minimal support.… More »
How Lean Changed My Work: Lean Without Knowing It
Last month LEI sent out an email asking the lean community how lean changed their work. For Jeremy Venable of Shell Chemical, lean not only helped him redefine his work, but helped him get recognition and a new job too. Read more.… More »
Do You Own Your Lean Learning?
LEI COO and Toyota veteran Mark Reich is back with a new series on the role of consultants and OpEx groups in a lean transformation. Today he shares a story of coaching a young coffee-plant manager facing a major challenge -- and what it taught him about lean leadership and problem-solving.… More »
Ask Art: Is “We are customer-driven” a good lean strategy?
Art Byrne is often asked if "customer-driven" is a good lean strategy. The answer is yes - as long as it's done right. Read more.… More »
From Chaos to Kaizen: The Visual Way
In another of his visual depictions of the fundamentals of lean, Andrew Quibell illustrates the process of transforming a chaos-plagued organization into one of continuous improvement.… More »
An Overview of Visual Management at Toyota
"Implementing visual management (VM) is a cornerstone of any lean transformation," writes Andrew Quibell. "And few companies know that better than Toyota." In this first of two sketches on visual management at Toyota, Andrew illustrates the fundamentals of the process as Toyota practices itself and teaches its suppliers.… More »
Making Things Better - Engineering Isn't Always Right
"Have you noticed a tendency at your company to automatically take Engineering's advice?" writes Gary Stewart of Fiat-Chrysler. "If you have, it’s time to do something about it." Read about how one of Gary's former teams challenged an opinion of the Engineering department...and found the better solution.… More »
The Crucible of Innovation
Innovation is key to a successful successful development project, we always read. But innovation is a fickle term that gets tossed around like a coin. Jim Morgan prefers putting his faith in design reviews to serve as his projects' heartbeat - read more to learn about design reviews and what you can do to get the most value out of them.… More »
Waste in Process: Squeeze Before You Lean
"It seems intuitive to start applying lean to our processes, right?" writes Andrew Quibell. "Maybe so, but all that says to me is that we're short-sighted when applying lean." How so, you ask? Read more.… More »
Succeeding by Failing
People often wonder what exactly constitutes "success" in a lean journey - it's a longstanding question. Cam Ford has a different thought entirely. Inspired by two recent articles and a takeaway from visiting a manufacturing plant, Cam shares his take on the true measure of lean success.… More »
The Hidden Waste in Inspection
When looking for areas of muda, your inspection department probably isn't the first place that comes to mind. But you may be surprised to find out that inspection is waste by its very nature. In his third installment of his series on areas of waste in manufacturing, Andrew Quibell breaks down this problem and illustrates the true solution to eliminating defects.… More »
Take Your Product Testing to the Extreme
Many of the principles of lean product and process development can seem counterproductive at first glance. For example, what if someone told you that the best way to see if a product will truly work...is to break it? That's exactly what Professor Larry Navarre of Kettering University tells his students, as part of his unlikely yet invaluable "Extreme Testing" concept. Read more.… More »
The Tesla Way vs. The Toyota Way
Does Tesla offer a Way of working that can challenge TPS? Perhaps a bit more time, and the development of a complete Tesla Business System, will get us closer to an answer.… More »
Conveyance: The Perfect Place for Waste
In the latest installment of his series of sketches and animations covering areas of waste in manufacturing, Andrew Quibell gives us a look at conveyance. "We all know that moving materials provides zero value to the customer or ourselves," he writes. "It's the perfect place for waste to hide." Read more.… More »
Just-in-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads from Across the Web (Vol. 16)
Our latest compilation of the best lean reads from around the web, this time featuring content from Forbes, Manufacturing.net, and The Association for Talent Development.… More »
Inventory Waste: The "Hidden Killer" in Manufacturing
Andrew Quibell is back with the next sketch in his series on the four main areas of waste in manufacturing. Today's area: Inventory, the "hidden killer." Check out the sketch plus a fun animated video Andrew made to help illustrate the concept.… More »
The Manufacturing Waste Series: Introduction
In the first installment of his new series on waste, Andrew Quibell's latest sketch introduces his take on why kaizen efforts often fail to achieve anything long-term. Read more to find out what he pegs as the culprit, and get a preview of the series to come!… More »
Small Chart, Big Impact: How a Simple Spaghetti Chart Led to Huge Wins at Thrustmaster of Texas
Sometimes the simplest lean concepts can make all the difference in ensuring a successful transformation. Marine-propulsion manufacturer Thrustmaster of Texas found this out after creating a spaghetti diagram to reveal possible waste in an assembly plant. Their findings were staggering - read more.… More »
The Importance of Team Leaders on the Shop Floor
Why does upper management often fail to invest in team leaders on the shop floor? Andrew Quibell has his money on a lack of perspective. Check out his newest sketch on the critical importance of this key lean role and why there's no underestimating its function in a lean system.… More »
No Shortcuts: Creating a Lean Environment the Right Way
As much as we may wish there was a way to pull off a lean transformation with only a basic knowledge of its ideals, there isn't one. Michael Ballé explains why investing the time it takes to fully learn lean is worth every second you put into it. It may take a while, but the benefits will speak for themselves.… More »
Ask Art: How One-Piece-Flow Supports Quality
"One-piece-flow is the key to quality improvements," writes Art Byrne. "In my experience it is pretty common to get a 10x or better gain in quality once you are in a one-piece-flow. This will occur naturally and is something that you get for free." Find out how this works in Art's latest piece.… More »
Let's Stop Being Hypocrites: Work is Work
"We often talk about knowledge workers as though they need to be treated differently from shop floor workers," writes Dan Markovitz, "...but the truth is that they’re still production workers. And that means that we can approach their work, and solve their problems, in the same way that we approach the work and the problems on the shop floor." Read more.… More »
Goodyear's Great Year: An LPPD Success Story
Lean product and process development (LPPD) successes can be found at companies of every size and industry - such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Watch this video to hear new author Norbert Majerus describe the situation at Goodyear that prompted this transformation, plus the results that stemmed from it.… More »
Apples & Oranges: Value Stream Mapping in a Low-Volume/High-Mix Environment
"Making improvements using lean principles in a low volume/high mix (LVHM) manufacturing environment can be difficult, especially when trying to determine where to start," writes Aaron Hunt in his first Lean Post article. But it's not impossible. Here's how Aaron mapped the complex value streams at his LVHM organization and opened the doors to next-level productivity.… More »
Why Lean Fails in Job Shops... and What to Do to Succeed
Like many job shop owners, LEI faculty member Greg Lane struggled with implementing lean principles early on. The experiences and books he had been exposed to were based on repetitive manufacturing. Job shops with their high-mix, low-volume product lineup present a challenge to lean thinkers -- but not an insurmountable one. Read why.… More »
Putting Financial Value on Lean Transformation
What is the ROI on a kaizen event? How does Lean stack up against other revenue generation or cost-saving initiatives? While Jean Cunningham says questions like these reflect an incomplete and superficial grasp of Lean, she's using them as the impetus for helping people understand the financial benefits of their lean efforts.… More »
Heijunka: Mastering the Peaks and Valleys
Struggling to run different types of products down one line? Lean coach Jeff Smith explains the lean manufacturing concept of Heijunka (or production leveling) by way of a story.… More »
Getting a Jump on Unplanned Changes
Andrew Quibbell, veteran of the auto industry, uses graphic recording to share lean concepts. Here's a visual of how Quibbell teaches change point management on the shop floor.… More »
From Victim to Partner: The Evolution of a Manufacturing Development System
"Excellence in product development is not 'an engineering thing'; it is an enterprise thing," writes Jim Morgan. And it's helpful to think about manufacturing’s role in PD as something that evolves over time through four general stages until manufacturing becomes a fully participating partner. "Few companies evolve through all stages on their own... " Read more.… More »
Just-in-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads From Across the Web (Vol. 5)
Check out our editors' picks for 5 high value lean reads you may have missed, this time from Industry Week, the blog at ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, MIT Sloan Management Review, 99u, and Planet Lean.… More »
Keep It Simple: Value Stream Map at the Gemba
Sometimes we build value stream mapping up to be a much bigger process than it needs to be, forgetting to include key people in the mapping process. Dave LaHote shares a story of how powerful value stream mapping can be when it's used well.… More »
Frontloading Product Development
Anyone in product development is familiar with the agony of late-stage changes, sometimes called loopbacks. The common advice to head off this problem is to “frontload” the product development process. But what does frontload mean? Durward Sobek explains.… More »
Remembering Jim Harbour
"We in the Lean Community stand on a lot of shoulders. One broad pair belonged to Jim Harbour, who passed away last Saturday at age 86." Read Jim Womack's tribute to the former Ford and Chrysler executive and auto industry analyst.… More »
Gemba Walks: Are You Going To See or To Be Seen?
"Supervisors talked about the significant improvements they were making as a result of kaizen events," writes Dave LaHote, "But all I noticed was workers trying to keep up with a production process that looked out of sync, plagued by problems that got in the way of them being able to perform their jobs well." Read more.… More »
Testing the Lean Transformation Model in India
Dhirendra Kumar Dubey of Lean Management Institute of India (LMII) shares what he's learned about the effectiveness of the Lean Transformation Model through institute projects.… More »
Coaching Effectively Within Takt Time
When time is of the essence and work just needs to be done, how do you help someone improve their work or solve a problem quickly? Jeff Smith shares an example from the shopfloor.… More »
TWI Job Instruction As a Way of Sharing High Value Knowledge
"Before we try to create value, we first need to study the jobs — looking for those parts of the job that require time and experience to learn," writes Patrick Graupp, master trainer at the TWI Institute. "How do we do this? We talk with the experienced people who have taken the time to know these jobs well."… More »
Levelled Production: Why Do It?
Ian Glenday explains how levelled production and "economies of repetition" make way not just for stability, but improved business performance.… More »
The Real Lean Challenge: Levelling Production
Most lean practitioners focus primarily on the waste elimination aspect of Lean and ignore levelled production. In his second piece for the Post, Ian Glenday explains why levelled production is so important to overall system improvement.… More »
Which Will Prevail: Batch Thinking or Worker Leadership?
For most of two centuries, batch and queue production was the golden key that opened the factory doors of mass production and led many nations to untold wealth. In his first piece for the Post, Fred Stahl tells us why we must discard batch thinking and understand "worker leadership" in order to innovate for the 21st century.… More »
The Problem with Batch Logic
Enterprise Resource Planning processes use economic order quantities (=EOQ), also known as batch logic, to calculate what is required. This is not compatible with Lean. In his first piece for the Post, lean author and coach Ian Glenday gives us three reasons why.… More »
manufacturing on Lean.org
The Value Stream Manager
Read about and discuss the role of this cross-functional manager.… More »
Leadership Q&A: Dr. Jack Billi, associate dean and associate vice president for medical affairs
From the LEI senior executive series on lean leadership: Jack Billi, M.D., associate dean for clinical affairs, University of Michigan Medical School, professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Educa… More »
The Beginner’s Guide To Lean
Dan Jones, chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy and coauthor of Lean Thinking, explains that the challenge of lean is to advance beyond eliminating waste in broken processes to creating brilliant p… More »
Leadership Q&A: Dan Ariens, CEO of Ariens Co.
From the LEI senior executive series on lean leadership: In the late 1990s, Ariens Co.faced a blizzard of problems. The iconic maker of snow blowers, mowers, and string trimmers faced a cash-flow cri… More »
What is the Theory of Constraints, and How Does it Compare to Lean Thinking?
Read about and discuss this topic.… More »
Lean Transformational Leadership Webinar - Follow-up Q & A and Reading List
During the Transformational Leadership webinar, many of you asked for the list of related books and articles that presenter Jim Luckman cited. He has provided the list as a chart at the end of his ans… More »
Forward to Fundamentals Webinar with John Shook and Jim Womack, Written Transcript
In recent years, most discussions around lean transformation have understandably evolved toward more managerial and strategic matters. Yet there remains an alarming lack of solid implementation of the… More »
Go and See the Lean Supply Chain: Gemba-Based Workshop
This two-day workshop is part of our new series of special programs which combine classroom learning with practical experience at the gemba. The workshop is conducted at the LeanCor Supply Chain Grou… More »
Lean Fundamentals for Sales Organizations
This workshop is an expansion of lean concepts and tools for Sales practitioners, as well as the organizational leadership responsible for creating and implementing strategies. By discussing real pro… More »
Breaking Through to Flow
This is a pathway that helps people make a fundamental change in their thinking and working that is at the heart of lean - moving from batch to flow logic. The Sieve helps to identify the right value … More »
LEI Workbook Set
A complete set of the LEI workbooks.… More »
The Machine That Changed the World
When The Machine That Changed the World was first published in 1990, Toyota was half the size of General Motors. Today Toyota is passing GM as the world's largest auto maker and is the most consistent… More »
Let's Stop Being Hypocrites: Work is Work
"We often talk about knowledge workers as though they need to be treated differently from shop floor workers," writes Dan Markovitz, "...but the truth is that they’re still production workers. And that means that we can approach their work, and solve their problems, in the same way that we approach the work and the problems on the shop floor." Read more.… More »
Goodyear's Great Year: An LPPD Success Story
Lean product and process development (LPPD) successes can be found at companies of every size and industry - such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Watch this video to hear new author Norbert Majerus describe the situation at Goodyear that prompted this transformation, plus the results that stemmed from it.… More »
Apples & Oranges: Value Stream Mapping in a Low-Volume/High-Mix Environment
"Making improvements using lean principles in a low volume/high mix (LVHM) manufacturing environment can be difficult, especially when trying to determine where to start," writes Aaron Hunt in his first Lean Post article. But it's not impossible. Here's how Aaron mapped the complex value streams at his LVHM organization and opened the doors to next-level productivity.… More »
Why Lean Fails in Job Shops... and What to Do to Succeed
Like many job shop owners, LEI faculty member Greg Lane struggled with implementing lean principles early on. The experiences and books he had been exposed to were based on repetitive manufacturing. Job shops with their high-mix, low-volume product lineup present a challenge to lean thinkers -- but not an insurmountable one. Read why.… More »
Putting Financial Value on Lean Transformation
What is the ROI on a kaizen event? How does Lean stack up against other revenue generation or cost-saving initiatives? While Jean Cunningham says questions like these reflect an incomplete and superficial grasp of Lean, she's using them as the impetus for helping people understand the financial benefits of their lean efforts.… More »
Heijunka: Mastering the Peaks and Valleys
Struggling to run different types of products down one line? Lean coach Jeff Smith explains the lean manufacturing concept of Heijunka (or production leveling) by way of a story.… More »
Getting a Jump on Unplanned Changes
Andrew Quibbell, veteran of the auto industry, uses graphic recording to share lean concepts. Here's a visual of how Quibbell teaches change point management on the shop floor.… More »
From Victim to Partner: The Evolution of a Manufacturing Development System
"Excellence in product development is not 'an engineering thing'; it is an enterprise thing," writes Jim Morgan. And it's helpful to think about manufacturing’s role in PD as something that evolves over time through four general stages until manufacturing becomes a fully participating partner. "Few companies evolve through all stages on their own... " Read more.… More »
Just-in-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads From Across the Web (Vol. 5)
Check out our editors' picks for 5 high value lean reads you may have missed, this time from Industry Week, the blog at ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, MIT Sloan Management Review, 99u, and Planet Lean.… More »
Keep It Simple: Value Stream Map at the Gemba
Sometimes we build value stream mapping up to be a much bigger process than it needs to be, forgetting to include key people in the mapping process. Dave LaHote shares a story of how powerful value stream mapping can be when it's used well.… More »
Frontloading Product Development
Anyone in product development is familiar with the agony of late-stage changes, sometimes called loopbacks. The common advice to head off this problem is to “frontload” the product development process. But what does frontload mean? Durward Sobek explains.… More »
Remembering Jim Harbour
"We in the Lean Community stand on a lot of shoulders. One broad pair belonged to Jim Harbour, who passed away last Saturday at age 86." Read Jim Womack's tribute to the former Ford and Chrysler executive and auto industry analyst.… More »
Gemba Walks: Are You Going To See or To Be Seen?
"Supervisors talked about the significant improvements they were making as a result of kaizen events," writes Dave LaHote, "But all I noticed was workers trying to keep up with a production process that looked out of sync, plagued by problems that got in the way of them being able to perform their jobs well." Read more.… More »
Testing the Lean Transformation Model in India
Dhirendra Kumar Dubey of Lean Management Institute of India (LMII) shares what he's learned about the effectiveness of the Lean Transformation Model through institute projects.… More »
Coaching Effectively Within Takt Time
When time is of the essence and work just needs to be done, how do you help someone improve their work or solve a problem quickly? Jeff Smith shares an example from the shopfloor.… More »
TWI Job Instruction As a Way of Sharing High Value Knowledge
"Before we try to create value, we first need to study the jobs — looking for those parts of the job that require time and experience to learn," writes Patrick Graupp, master trainer at the TWI Institute. "How do we do this? We talk with the experienced people who have taken the time to know these jobs well."… More »
Levelled Production: Why Do It?
Ian Glenday explains how levelled production and "economies of repetition" make way not just for stability, but improved business performance.… More »
The Real Lean Challenge: Levelling Production
Most lean practitioners focus primarily on the waste elimination aspect of Lean and ignore levelled production. In his second piece for the Post, Ian Glenday explains why levelled production is so important to overall system improvement.… More »
Which Will Prevail: Batch Thinking or Worker Leadership?
For most of two centuries, batch and queue production was the golden key that opened the factory doors of mass production and led many nations to untold wealth. In his first piece for the Post, Fred Stahl tells us why we must discard batch thinking and understand "worker leadership" in order to innovate for the 21st century.… More »
The Problem with Batch Logic
Enterprise Resource Planning processes use economic order quantities (=EOQ), also known as batch logic, to calculate what is required. This is not compatible with Lean. In his first piece for the Post, lean author and coach Ian Glenday gives us three reasons why.… More »