I’m actually going to write something about Lean. There are probably more books and papers written on Lean than any other manufacturing topic. Yet I add another. No, I do not present myself as an expert on the subject. That is the very reason I venture to write this. I’m Not An Expert. Have you read the expert’s books. Bet you didn’t read any of them right before bed. It would take months to do that, You would only get to read a page or two and hello Mr. Sandman. I’ve read several (and deserve a medal for that). The experts really are experts and want to make sure we know it. They do not miss any detail, cover every angle and ramble for chapters.
I guess it would be difficult to get people to pay $24.95 for the following..
Lean manufacturing is the detailed review of every aspect of the production process with the liberal application of COMMON SENSE.
There you go. Lean manufacturing in one sentence. Think about it. Am I wrong? Do we need three chapters to tell us reducing inventory is a good thing? Are we required to read 150 pages before we discover that placing all the tools you need, in one place is a time saver? Do we need to break the super saver account at Amazon.com to realize waste is bad?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of lean. I’m just as big a fan of common sense which we all too often put on hold as we listen, open-mouthed in amazement to the lean consultant. I’m not even saying lean consultants are a bad thing. What I am saying is if we would open our eyes and our ears, listen to our team members and apply a good dose of common sense we would arrive at this Nirvana we call lean.
I look back over the past year at Ebsco. The ideas we implemented were classic lean improvements. Adding doors to shorten the path parts take in the process from one department to another. The boss cutting order sizes to make smaller batches. Color coded tool sets for specific machines, directly by the machine. New machines to leverage technology. The list is endless. The point is none of these were related to, mentioned with or associated in any way with lean. We simply looked at the situation, applied common sense and made decisions. Maybe we didn’t practice Lean, we practiced common sense. Looking back over the past few years, many of the boss’s and the management teams decisions have been classic lean, just no one knew or cared to run around calling them that.
Now, after minimizing Lean, I am proud to announce the formulation of an employee driven Lean Team at Ebsco. We will train team members in the basics of lean manufacturing techniques, take a couple of field trips to other lean manufacturers and then turn them loose to lead our Lean effort. Management will work with the team to capture and implement ideas from the staff. We will use Lean as a way to focus our improvement process and direct it at reducing waste.
I’m excited about this new team. Every time I have asked for input from the staff, they have flooded me with opportunities. I am certain the Lean Team will find the same cooperation. When we combine the Lean Team with Ebsco Common Sense, exciting things are bound to happen.