Ebsco is launching an exciting new endeavor. We are forming a team to critically evaluate every aspect of our production method, how it fits within our culture, and then determine better safer ways to move forward. This is NOT another instance of a company hiring a consultant to guide them into the promise land of Lean, only to look back a year later and wonder why nothing changed.
Toyota corporation is given credit for the lean production method. Most companies attempt to model their lean methods after Toyota. Companies have been lining up for years, drinking the Lean KoolAid, launching a wave of enthusiasm only to see how little things actually changed in hind site. Toyota has steadfastly claimed that Lean alone is not an answer. Lean was a necessary byproduct of the entire Toyota Production Method and worked because of the Toyota culture. Lean is not an answer in itself, it is a tool to help shape the ultimate answer. Companies that successfully implement lean understand this.
Ebsco is a job shop, nopt an assemply line. We manufacture several parts, most repeating over time. Some of the basic principles of Lean do not fit what we do. Although I see many similarities, Ebsco and Toyota do not share identical cultures including the facts that we are not Japaneese, do not make cars and are not a Fortune 100 Corporation. It is because of this that the customary approach of implementing Lean will fail at Ebsco as it does so many other places.
Does this mean that none of lean will work at Ebsco. Absolutely not. As I began looking at lean the past few months and considered the changes that have been implemented at Ebsco over the past few years, you would think they had a major Lean program in place. Most of Ebsco’s biggest decisions could have come directly from the Lean text-book, yet Lean was never consider when Ebsco put these decisions in place. What was considered?, COMMON SENSE. These weren’t lean decisions they were simply common sense decisions. This forced me to take a closer look at Lean itself and there it was, common sense. Lean is simply a framework for the utilization of common sense.
So should Ebsco tackle lean or not. Some of it doesn’t apply and we know we don’t share identical cultures with Toyota. The answer is yes and no. Ebsco needs to develop and improve its production method, that uniquely fits the Ebsco culture and Ebsco business. As Toyota has the TPM, Ebsco should have the EPM.
We are currently creating a team to tackle this project at Ebsco. As our logo states, our manufacturing method will utilize “common sense” to guide us through the project. Common sense acquired from years of doing what we do best, MAKE SPRINGS. The squared part is Lean. All team members will be trained in basic lean 101. They can utilize this to guide them through the process. They can shape lean to be a part of the Ebsco Production Method.
It sounds daunting asking Ebsco to create a manufacturing process like the giant Toyota did. The thing to remember is that Toyota began looking at production methods and culture when they were a small company building automated yarn spinning machines. As they brought in Lean, they were a small auto producer in a devastated post WWII Japan. When you look at it that way it doesn’t look quit so daunting. Obviously I have a positive attitude. This team has shown so much potential that I believe they can accomplish anything. I will always bet on them. If you have doubts, here is the place to follow-up on our efforts. I’m sure you will be able to see our triumphs and I’m sure a few pitfalls here in my Blog.