Window & Door Manufacturer Implements Lean Manufacturing

One of the hardest things when trying to improve anything is finding the courage to take the first step. Dynamic Architectural Windows & Doors, Inc. of Abbotsford, British Columbia did more than take the first step, they decided to embark on a journey to implement lean manufacturing principles into their business processes. This short video is an account of their journey and results. Enjoy!

Window & Door Manufacturer Implements Lean Manufacturing:

Implementing Lean Manufacturing

This company has demonstrated that it is possible to implement a lean manufacturing production system, even though they are facing the toughest competition in their field. No one can move forward by simply maintaining the status quo. It is a testament to the courage and conviction of their management team because they had the insight to stand up and admit that a problem exists. The hardest part of the process is the sudden realization that you don’t know, what you don’t know! So, how do you get to know? You gain insight and this leads to awareness.

 

Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

Lean Mfg Online

Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

How often do you see a  news article with a title like this? I find it exciting to see a news report about a U.S. company investing in its future by upgrading their facility. This is incredibly bold of them, especially in a down economy, when all you usually read in the business section is bad news!

Companies are starting to realize that many of their customer service issues can be traced back to their facility and production systems. The solution and capability to eliminate the root cause of their problem already exists inside their own facility. The solution is to train their employees to “work smarter, not force them to work harder!” They need some basic problem solving tools to allow them to improve their workplace. In doing this, the management team will see the manufacturing systems run efficiently and become more effective at servicing their customer’s needs. This is a win-win scenario for the company and their customers because they will be able to continue to generate revenues to support their employees and business interests.

Here is a great article I found in the Rome Sentinel about Harden Furniture Co. that has invested $3 million to improve their facility and production capabilities. Enjoy the article!

Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles - Lean Mfg Online
Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

The Harden Furniture Co. plans to invest as much as $3 million to install state-of-the-art woodworking equipment and engineering software later this year as it upgrades its facility and introduces additional lean manufacturing practices.

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The upgrade is expected to occur in several phases. The first phase will be operational prior to the end of 2012 and will include a “batch one” manufacturing cell supported by a new Holtzer CNC machining center and replacement of the roughmill with a Weinig optimizing system.

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Harden’s manufacturing facility utilizes a batch process for most woodworking operations and the modernization will convert several product lines to a lean manufacturing/just-in-time process. The anticipated benefits include shorter production lead times, an increased ability to customize existing designs and reduced operating costs. In addition, Harden has begun offering the Cabinetmaker’s Cherry Collection in solid black walnut as the new process will allow consumers to choose alternate hardwoods.

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The introduction of additional hardwoods compliments what has been “a unique and popular Harden quality — the opportunity to select from over 40 distinctive finishes,” the company noted. The conversion of Harden’s cabinetmaking operation to “batch one” expands custom capabilities and aligns all manufacturing processes with a more efficient lean model.

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According to President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Harden, the investment will “establish Harden as one of the few furnishings manufacturers world-wide that has ‘one off’ and true custom capabilities.”

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Harden Furniture manufactures high-end residential and commercial furnishings.

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Read the original article…

I take my hat off to the management team at Harden Furniture Co. because when a furniture company invests in lean principles to improve their production system, this is not an everyday occurrence.  It was inspiring and enjoyable to read about their $3 million investment to upgrade their facility.

They are continuing to follow a strong tradition of innovation amidst a world economy that is fraught with doubt and angst for most business owners and management teams. They are implementing lean principles to help them stay ahead, when so many are falling behind in the belief that they will catch up when the economy improves. This is based on false hope, and successful companies take on the challenges and learn from them.

Please share this article with your friends and work colleagues.

If you enjoyed reading this article: Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

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Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner

Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner

There Europeans have created a new lean manufacturing award to recognize companies that are demonstrating their use of innovation to create growth and jobs. The first lean manufacturing innovation award winner is Brillopak, which is a packaging company in the UK. Yes, that’s right, a packaging company. Lean principles can and are being applied and integrated into all types of business environments. Here is a snippet from the original article:

Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner

Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner
Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner
Brillopak is among the first recipients of a new award for companies which are using innovation to create growth and jobs.

The company was chosen as an inaugural winner of the Medway Innovation Voucher, towards the development of its new lean production control package. This is being developed to support small and medium manufacturers, using Brillopak’s new COMPACT C Series and robot cell packing and palletising solutions.

Brillopak Director David Jahn said: “We are very proud to have received this award, which supports our vision of building systems that have a demonstrable impact on efficiency through effective deployment of lean methodologies.

We are confident that the system will support our clients in eliminating bottlenecks across the end of line at a tactical level…[read more]

Today everyone is talking about jobs and how to create more of them. However, what’s actually happening is lots of talk and not much action. Apparently, with the current political standoff here in the US, ignoring the situation is the best way forward, well until after the election in November, when we all get to see how things will play out.

I am not sure how you feel about it, but I think the folks in Congress might do well to take notice what is happening across the pond to see how the Europeans are dealing with the same issues. They are identifying a lean manufacturing innovation award winner, while the politicians here in the US are doing nothing. 

I would prefer to see more action and less political theater here in the US Congress. Weight and tell us what you think? Leave a comment below and share this article with your friends and colleagues. 

If you enjoyed reading this article: Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner

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Is Your Business Satisfying Customer Needs?

Lean Manufacturing Metrics

The purpose of this article is to get you to ask this question: “Is your business satisfying customer needs?” This seems like a pretty straightforward question. However, it is not always that easy to get a straight-forward answer. Most business owners will tell you that they are “definitely satisfying their customer needs.” How do they know for sure? Are they telling the truth? Or, are they in denial?

The follow-up question will always throw them if you dare to ask it: “Where’s your metrics to prove it.” BAM…WHAM…KAPOW! A this point in the conversation you’re either going to be shown the door, or experience an awkward silence followed by rapid change of subject. It seems perfectly normal to ask an executive management team to share their customer satisfaction feedback or their on-time delivery metrics to demonstrate their ability to fulfill their customer needs. In fact, you would think they would be extremely excited to let you see them! If they are truly satisfying their customer needs, they are consistently delivering their products or services to them on time, every time, right?

Lean Manufacturing Metrics

You see the problem with asking the question is that the answer you receive is not always grounded in reality; it’s often based on perception.  So, does this means they are telling lies or being dishonest? No, of course not, they are simply seeing things from a different perspective, and that is all fine and dandy. What is based on reality? How do we get to see the real picture? Well, that would be simply a matter of listening to what your customers are saying about your products and services. A business owner or management team can fool themselves, and many do but they cannot fool their customers, well not for long anyway! You see, in the 21st century, a customer has many choices and they can and will change their supplier at any time if they are unhappy with them.

So, back to the original question: can your business satisfy customer needs, or not? I have created a simple flow chart that will guide you through an easy  process to discover what and how you are dealing with the current situation in your company when it comes to customer needs. Take a look at the graphic to see the customer needs algorithm. Click here to see a larger size.

Answer the first question and then follow the path to see where it leads you. Now, you get the chance to become a character in your own version of Alice in Wonderland as you follow the white rabbit. However, try to keep a tight grip on reality as you enter and go deeper into the rabbit hole.

Can Your Business Satisfy Your Customer needs?
Can Your Business Satisfy Your Customer needs?

If you answer the first question honestly, it will clearly identify whether your company’s has the ability to satisfy customer needs or not, and it will tell you what action to take. On the other hand, if you’re in denial, or unaware of the reality of your current situation, it will lead you to where you believe your company is today, and it will tell you what action to take.  Enjoy your journey down the rabbit hole!

Make sure you read my next post to get the next installment about the way companies deal with this issue and try to answer the questions: Is your business satisfying customer needs? If you enjoyed this article please share it with your friends and colleagues by email, or the social media buttons below.

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3 Critical Questions about Lean Principles!

lean principles

Answer these 3 critical questions before trying to implement lean principles into any type of business.

If a company can’t answer these three simple questions about how they plan to use lean principles they are doomed to failure!

The most common question I am asked is “What is the best way to implement lean principles into a business?” The answer will depend on how the business owners can define three critical factors about why they want to use lean principles :

  • Are you a willing to embrace a system of thinking that will challenge your current business model?
  • Are you willing to create a business environment that will support the implementation of lean principles?
  • Are you willing to start to see problems as opportunities for improvement rather than a necessary evil of doing business?

If you are thinking of implementing lean principles into your company and you answered “No” to any of the three questions above, stop reading this article because its not for you.

I know. You are probably surprised that I am ready to challenge you to go do something else, instead of asking you to continue to read more of this article. So, why would I be willing to do this, instead of just telling you more about lean principles?

If any business owner can’t answer “Yes” to these three key questions, their company is not ready to implement Lean Principles. The reason I am so sure that this is true is based on many years of experience working in the continuous process improvement field. To many business owners pay lip service to it, instead of doing it. Action always speaks louder than words!

Accepting change is the first step towards implementing lean principles into any business!

Change is lean principlesa condition driven by a need, and it always starts as a thought process. The first part of the process is when someone starts thinking about change and how it will impact their environment. Next, the thinking moves into research, where the person starts to look for tools and techniques. They start to learn about the different applications and may decide to choose to understand more about lean methods. In other words, they become aware of lean principles and start to do deeper research into how they are used.

The call for change usually starts at the tactical or operational level of an organization such as on the shop floor or in an office. The person wanting to implement lean principles will often be a Team Lead, Supervisor or Line Manager, who read a book, went to a seminar or knows someone who works at a company that successfully implemented lean principles. They will start to implement their own changes to help them learn more about how lean techniques are capable of improving their workplace. Some will be successful. However, most will fail and give up. Why is this?

Adults are natural problem solvers. They desire to understand the reasons why and how things actually happen. If left to their own devices they will slowly learn and find ways to improve their environments. History demonstrates this process to be true. However, the one thing that stops this process dead in its tracks is when those in charge refuse to accept change. The same happens in a business.

Executives and managers are often focused on what they consider to be important issues involved in the day to day running of the business. However, the question here is: Are they focused on the “urgent” or the “important”? This is a very simple but significant distinction. Most are entrenched into the re-active cycle of focusing on the “urgent” issues. A few see the light and move towards the more pro-active cycle of looking at what’s “important”. Lean Manufacturing, Lean Healthcare and Lean Administration all focus employees on the lean process of identifying and eliminating waste or muda.

Bringing about change in any organization requires perseverance and discipline. Implementing lean principles needs these and more. If management does not embrace the need for change it will not happen because employees will feel disempowered by the lack of support.

About the Author:

Chris Turner is the CEO and Director of Training and Development for Radical Transformation LLC. He has 27 years of experience in the Continuous Process Improvement field. During this time, he has integrated Lean Principles, Lean Six Sigma and Change Management into his skill’s portfolio. He has worked with major organizations in the UK, USA and Canada such as the US Air Force, Canadian Ministry of Health, Siemens, Medtronic, APW, English China Clay to name a few. He participated in the design and development of Lean Certification Online, where learners have 24/7 access to online lean training materials. To learn more about lean principles click here

What to do before implementing Lean Concepts!

lean concepts

5 things to know prior to making use of Lean Concepts!

Ignore these and your lean concepts will be nothing but dreams!

Changing lean conceptsany enterprise into a Lean Business may be a daunting job if the person participating in the project does not have the knowledge and experience of lean concepts to grasp what needs to be done.    Listed here are 5 factors that each business owner should really know prior to implementing a lean program.

Five factors to consider before turning your lean concepts into reality!

#1. Developing a Lean Culture:

Many organizations employ lean principles on an unplanned basis, they do not think about the consequences of their actions when attempting to develop and establish a Lean Culture. They must change their focus towards using lean concepts. The only way any enterprise will not become another failed lean implementation statistic will be to obtain the appropriate setting to support the identification and elimination of waste to increase value for its customers.

#2. Genchi Gembutsu:

A business owner is unable to know what is happening in their workplace if they are not applying “Genchi Gembutsu.” It is a Japanese phrase that loosely translates into “Go to the place where the work is being done and see it with your own eyes.” It requires employees to understand lean concepts to change their approach to finding solutions. Don’t try to improve company processes while away from the workplace, such as inside a conference room or training office. Go to where the process is currently being performed and watch it in action to get a true understanding about what is occurring.

#3. Kaizen:

The concept of Kaizen is based on two factors contained within the phrase, which are “Kai” and “Zen.” The meaning of these 2 terms is “change for the good.” It is important to understand that this implies never changing something for the sake of change itself. Make it a rule to adopt lean concepts to encourage a different way of thinking.  Only change a process when it increases value for the customer. Doing anything other than this is a waste or muda!

#4. Problem Solving:

Identifying improvements on the job sounds like an easy task, nonetheless, realistically, it is rather difficult, and the reason for this is that people don’t know the place to begin. Most organizations get their workforce to spend their valuable time concentrating on the wrong things. This causes more problems since it increases cost instead of minimizing it. Educate your workers to understand lean concepts and become problem solvers and authorize them to seek and eliminate the waste.

#5. Lean Training:

A technique to get a traditional enterprise to become more profitable would be to train their workforce about Lean Principles and how to utilize them to remove waste and improve their own workspace. This is usually a win-win for any business, its people and its customers. Get the right individual, and that is someone who has a good knowledge of implementing Lean Principles into a company. Ask them for details about previous final results for continuous process improvement (CPI) projects to demonstrate how they applied Lean tools.

Understanding these 5 simple points will get you targeted on doing the right activities and make your Lean implementation successful. Education is important but it is only by individuals following through and also employing their understanding Lean Principles that they will begin to transform their company into a Lean Enterprise. To learn more click here

Chris Turner is the CEO and Director of Training and Development for Radical Transformation LLC. He has 27 years of experience in the Continuous Process Improvement field. During this time, he has integrated Lean Principles, Lean Six Sigma and Change Management into his skill’s portfolio. He has worked with major organizations in the UK, USA and Canada such as the US Air Force, Canadian Ministry of Health, Siemens, Medtronic, APW, English China Clay to name a few. He participated in the design and development of Lean Certification Online, which allows learners to have 24/7 access to online training materials to improve their understanding of lean concepts.

Workplace Organization!

5S

Why is Workplace Organization or 5S so important?

Can 5S help you to find what you need to do your job in 30 seconds or less?

Workplace Organization is a combination of two lean techniques, 5S and Visual Managem5Sent. When implemented as part of a lean program it can help any organization to reduce the amount of time its employees spend searching for parts, materials and equipment. After initiating a Workplace Organization project it is important to communicate so others understand what they need to know about it. Doing this will increase its integrity and effectiveness in achieving its main goal, which is the identification and eliminate of waste. The more people understand the process, the more they will participate in using it and this will help it to continue to improve.

Workplace Organization consists of 5S and Visual Management!

A 5S system can be implemented into any manufacturing, office or healthcare environment. 5S will quickly reveal the many areas of hidden waste. 5S is one of the best tools to identify and eliminate waste in the workplace. Every business can apply 5S principles throughout its work processes.

Visual Management is the process of managing a production system by implementing visual controls. The purpose of doing this is to differentiate between a normal and an abnormal situation. In other words, a defect must be obvious and recognizable as a consequence of using visual controls. Visual controls are techniques that shift an organization from optional to required behavior. This could be something as simple as placing a sign or painting a location square on the floor. A good example of a visual control is lines in a parking lot. If there were no lines , where would people park their cars? Probably anywhere they could find an empty space, right! The lines are there as a guide to show people how to align their vehicles in an orderly manner, which makes it easier for everyone to park.

Workplace Organization (5S and Visual Management) is the one of most difficult techniques to implement when an organization decides to embark on a journey towards becoming a Lean Enterprise. Why is this? Well, its because it requires a high level of internal discipline to implement Workplace Organization using 5S and Visual Management. Most organizations don’t usually have this kind of discipline, this is why so many of the fail when implementing Lean.  If an organization cannot implement a robust 5S system and sustain it, they do not have the required level of discipline to implement Lean principles overall.

To learn more about Workplace Organization (5S and Visual Management) and how to build the necessary internal discipline .

Which is the better system, Lean or Six Sigma?

six sigma

Getting beyond the hype is improtant whe it comes to implementing Lean and/or Six Sigma?

Which one first, Lean or Six Sigma?

The Lean vsix sigmas. Six Sigma discussion continues to roll on. Which is the best system for a business to adopt? Which one will deliver the best results? Which one gives fast results? What are the implementation cost difference’s between a Lean and a Six Sigma program? These are typical questions that get asked in this long running comparison between Lean and Six Sigma.

There are three factors that will influence any management team to decide on Lean or Six Sigma:

  1. Complexity of the business processes.
  2. Dollar amount available in the training budget.
  3. Discipline of management team to execute improvement initiatives.

1. Complexity of the business processes:

Any business with a high level of complexity in its processes will require an improvement program that can meet the demands of the  customer by using a more analytical approach. These types of businesses will use Lean to stabilize their processes and Six Sigma to reduce variation and improve quality. These types of organizations operate in a more academic or scientific level of industry such as chip manufacturers, software developers, etc.

Any business with a lower level of complexity needs an improvement program that can meet the demands of its customers by identifying and eliminating waste using basic Lean principles and problem solving tools. Kaoru Ishikawa stated, ” that 95% of all problems could be solved using seven basic quality tools.” These seven tools are:

  1. Flow Chart ( or Value Stream Map)
  2. Pareto Chart
  3. Scatter Diagram
  4. Cause & Effect Diagram
  5. Check Sheets
  6. Histograms
  7. Control Charts

Organizations that have successfully implemented Lean Principles use most, if not all of these seven quality tools as part of their Problem Solving toolkit.  In conjunction with the “5 Why’s”, the Lean toolkit can become a very effective set of tools to help identify and eliminate waste.

2. Dollar amount available in the training budget.

Traditionally, companies will spend less than 3% of their revenue on training. The Lean vs. Six Sigma discussion raises a legitimate question: “How much does it cost to implement each system?” Well one thing I know for sure is that Lean is a much cheaper system to implement than Six Sigma. Why is this? Six Sigma requires specialist training to develop a core group of green and black belts to run projects. This training is much more complex and expensive than teaching your employees to understand Lean principles and how to apply them. So, why do companies adopt Six Sigmas if it is more expensive to implement than Lean?

It is easy to answer this question by using the comparison I used earlier in this article. “If a business can improve its process using seven basic quality tools and lean principles, why would they want to implement a Six Sigma program?” I think the answer is obvious, they would only do this if they had complex processes or were influenced by the hype that Six Sigma is the ultimate silver bullet to solve all of their problems and improve performance. Lean is easy and relatively much more cost effective to implement compared to the overall cost of a Six Sigma program.

3. Discipline of management team to execute improvement initiatives.

In the end it really does not matter how much a business pays for any system if the management team lacks the discipline to implement any of their improvement initiatives. During the 27 years I have been working in the Continuous Process Improvement field, it is amazing how many companies do not execute their own strategic or tactical initiatives. The best plan in the world is useless unless it is converted into action. The cost of training employees to understand Lean or Six Sigma in one thing. However, the cost of taking several employees away from their daily productive work to participate in an improvement team and their ideas are not used is the worst kind of waste.

To summarize the article, I would recommend that any company start their Continuous Process Improvement journey by first implementing Lean principles and the seven problem solving tools. Employee training can be done on-site or online.  If you’re interested in signing up for a free access to Lean training, click here. When business processes have been stabilized through the application of Standardized Work using Lean princples, then and only then would I personally consider implementing a six sigma or a lean six sigma program.