Anyone adapting "lean" techniques to their shop?

Lean is the latest management buzzword of the day. MMSOL has an article on
it. Classes, books, and consultants are everywhere. Yesterday I had a chance
to attend a lean seminar by Jerry Feingold. I really didn't have any
preconcieved notions of what to expect. I thought lean was just common sense
illustrated. It is but if you buy into the whole paradigm shift and Demings
14 points and elimination of waste as a daily thought process, it is much
more than that. It is the reason we got our asses handed to us by the
Japanese in manufacturing. An American who worked for AT&T taught the
Japanese his lean philosophy because his peers wouldn't listen to him.
Anyway, today I went to a customer who just needed some training on one of
his machines. They make a machine as a finished product so they have an
assembly department that is heavily Kaizaned. They tried to Kaizan the
machine shop but got zero cooperation from the machinists. Yup, new task.
I'm going to change their shop from a "push" to a "pull". I have to admit,
I'm looking forward to this as an experiment. If it is successful I just
added a new skill to my to my resume.
Has anyone else used any or all lean techniques?
Reply to
Bill
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Let the Record show that "Bill" on or about Sat, 25 Apr 2009 14:47:27 -0700 did write/type or cause to appear in alt.machines.cnc the following:
Can't say that I have. But as you observed "Lean" is just old fashioned common business sense. The less inventory on hand, the less capital you have tied up sitting idle. And it is a holistic approach, you can't take just one element and apply that willy nilly. Company I used to work for, decided to implement 5S and Lean and all the rest. But from what I'm hearing, they're making a hash of it, too. I suspect that when things pick up, a lot of their good people are going to go find new Jobs where they can make real money without the mickey mouse.
Sigh, and it used to be a good company to work for.
pyotr
[You know something is wrong when you get angry that management is screwing over your former foreman.] - pyotr filipivich We will drink no whiskey before its nine. It's eight fifty eight. Close enough!
Reply to
pyotr filipivich
I have seen used in several plants. The biggest problem is the people that apply the lean and kaizan stuff have no understanding of what they are doing. For instance, one company went through thier gauge dept and threw out all the gauges that had not been used in a long time. A week later the sent the head of the calibration department dumster diving at the scrap metal dealer to get some propriatory gauges that they needed for an umcoming job. The same thing happens with fixtures and special tooling,if it hasn't been used in a while, get rid of it. The Japanese have sold back to us what we used to know ourselves. Look at some pictures of US manufacturing plant going back 50 years.
John
Reply to
John
A place for everything and everything in its place. The most used stuff held the closest at hand. Stuff not used often placed, recorded and stored for easy access.
John
Reply to
John
The concept of Lean as I've seen it works well... IF everyone's on board. One shop I worked at did a test of Kaizan for just a section of the shop (the cell area)to get started. They set metrics of current throughput then post Kaizan. The results were pretty impressive. Still the machinists fought it every step of the way - until management told them it was their way or the highway. You and I both know that relative to most industries, machinists are the most stubborn folks around. I was pretty stubborn too until I got into the ME side of things. Now that I'm in a position to change a process to improve it, I'm not so stubborn. Plus, I like change!
-- Bill
Reply to
Bill
That tells me the event wasn't run or managed correctly.
Company I worked for years ago department heads asked for events and everyone looked forward to Kaizen events in their departments especially the machining departments.
Tom
Reply to
brewertr
Well, Bill did say "If it is successful I just added a new skill to my to my resume." LOL I thought the idea was to add the skill and then sell it, not use a customer for a crash test dummy.
JC
Reply to
John R. Carroll
Not quite that dramatic. It's earning while learning. Kaizan in action. Think of the efficiency.
Reply to
Bill
Yeah I'm wearing out the words paradigm shift. But it is fun and exciting to do new stuff.
Reply to
Bill
I get the pressure all the time to get lean, be more efficient, eliminate waste, etc. All lip service, no specifics on how to achieve all this are offered. I'm shown the lean examples from large manufacturers. How does this apply to a small machine shop?
Willing, but unable Dale
Reply to
DrFrye
---------- This is exactly correct and is the most telling sentence in your entire post. It is also the key to most of America's manufacturing/industrial "problems."
The problem is that "management" wants the employees "fixed" and is not willing to change a single one of their own behaviors/practices.
To make any of the programs work requires total long-term commitment and significant change in all aspects of company operation.
Anything less and they are just playing games.
Another problem is that there is generally a considerable preparation phase, and just about the time a newly introduced program starts to gel and begin generating results, it is dropped and the latest and best is implemented in its place.
If reorganization and "new, innovative programs" were the answer, GM would still be the #1 car company in the world, as this is all they have done for at least the last 30 years.
As a very smart man told me "A mediocre plan that is well executed will generally outperform a good plan that is poorly executed, and will always be better than a perfect plan that is never executed."
As some one that has been there and done that, don't get too committed to implementation of "lean and mean," or what every catchy title the HR people come up with. If you are a new hire with the company, talk to the old-timers and find out how many other "world changing" programs they have been put through and how long these typically lasted.
One typical result of repeated program implementations is an employee attitude of agreement with anything as "this too shall pass away." One poster mentioned the example of the disposal of vital jigs, fixtures, gages and other tooling for scrap. This is far from unusual occurance, and more than likely happened more than once at that company. The hourly employees are not stupid. When the suits say "dump," they "dump."
Get your resume up to date and start looking for another job, because someone is going to be the goat when this program dosen't work any better than the last five or six did.
One technique that can be helpful to gain insight into the company dynamics is to take repeated surveys to agree on the identity and rank the major [top 10] problems within the organization.
Two things to watch for:
(1) There is no general agreement as to the identity and priority of the problems; and
(2) Even with agrement on identity and priority [generally after much work on your part], the items may well have little or nothing to do with what the new program can plausably be expected to correct. For example if one of the identified problems is failure to make promised delivery dates, and sales/marketing keeps accepting orders for delivery in 2 weeks for products requiring 8-10 week lead times for just the materials, "lean and mean" can do nothing.
In the US at least, the huge majority of these "programs" were an attempt to solve non-technical problems by technical means, (i.e. "on the cheap") which always fails.
Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut, and you can learn a great deal.
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ------------------------------------------- He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, essayist, statesman. Essays, "Of Innovations" (1597-1625).
Reply to
F. George McDuffee
There is an article in MMSOL about a shop that has adopted a modified version of lean. There is a short version of how it applies to a small shop. The challenge my customer wants is to set up their machine shop as a pull system instead of a push system. They make their own product so establishing parameters and envelopes is easier. The first project is a box that requires all 6 sides to be machined. A push system would run 6 batches of operations. With a pull system I set up 6 machines with each sequential operation being done simultaneously. After getting 1 part after all 6 operations are complete you now get a complete part at the end of the longest operation. Very cool to watch work. Sorta like the whole shop working as a 6 spindle acme grindley. Each machine will be pre set for each sequential operation. When assembly needs a part they will get it in minutes as opposed to hours. The nice thing is management is already sold on the idea, they just need a machinist to implement it. It's a unique opportunity I'm excited to get into.
Reply to
Bill
"Bill" wrote in news:UbudnVaC9qtsGW7UnZ2dnUVZ snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.com:
Yes. I also teach some basic 5S and set up time reduction. Some people get it and do well. Others cop an attitude and bitch about how it's stupid and a waste of time.
I will say there have been some very bad executions of "lean" by clueless engineers who think it's all about throwing shit away and mopping the floor at regular intervals.
I also know places that can change a six spindle Acme over in an hour. Last piece off to first good part on completely different workpieces where everything is changed out. That's a powerful competitve advantage, but the journey ain't easy.
Reply to
D Murphy
--------- Always nice to see another survivor of the SPC wars.
As I was reading your most informative and accurate post I had to keep checking the sig to verify that I had not written it. This exactly parallels my experience at two companies and several divisions within one of those companies in attempting to implement SPC.
Your record of conversation seems to be standard management response.
Any survivors (with good war stories) from the earlier MRP & MRP-II efforts? Anybody remember Oliver Wight?
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ------------------------------------------- He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, essayist, statesman. Essays, "Of Innovations" (1597-1625).
Reply to
F. George McDuffee
---------- A major problem is that it is difficult to "pencil-whip" the numbers in a small shop.
An other serious problem is that the people demanding "Lean Manufacturing" do not understand what L/M means, and have no idea of what is involved, either with "Lean Manufacturing," or manufacturing in general. They just like the name, sorta like "Lean Cuisine," and have visions of free money falling from the sky without effort on their part.
As indicated in another post in this thread, one of the first things that should happen is the development of a list of "problems" stated as single simple declarative sentences and how these are measured. This list should then be rank ordered, with all "management" signing off on the problem definitions, metrics and priorities. Otherwise you will be sweeping sand against the tide.
Even with this agrement on prioritization, there is still the problem of pilfering the progress, or even sabotage, for example a quick change over of tooling may be developed [called SMED for single minute exchange of dies] but the down time for machine set up is still not decreasing, and therefore machine utilization and production is not increasing.
Frequently it will be determined that as the time required for set-ups is decreased, someone in "management" is reducing the number of tool setters and set-up personnel, thus both negating any benefit of the program on machine utilization and productivity, and alienating some of the most vital and hard to replace/train employees in the direct production process, thereby stopping any input from this critical source. On paper this generates considerable immediate cost savings (as these are generally some of the most senior/highest paid hourly employees), albeit much larger long term losses. This also kills any chance of other hourly employee involvement.
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ------------------------------------------- He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, essayist, statesman. Essays, "Of Innovations" (1597-1625).
Reply to
F. George McDuffee
Let the Record show that "John" on or about Sat, 25 Apr 2009 19:37:31 -0400 did write/type or cause to appear in alt.machines.cnc the following:
I understand there is a move to get rid of "extra" fixtures, the ones which haven't been used in X units time. I laughed, when I heard that. One, some of the orders have long cycles (order a dozen, then another dozen in 18 months); two, some of the jobs were outsource to another company when things got busy. They're now bringing that work back in house.
- pyotr filipivich We will drink no whiskey before its nine. It's eight fifty eight. Close enough!
Reply to
pyotr filipivich
Let the Record show that "John" on or about Sat, 25 Apr 2009 19:40:16 -0400 did write/type or cause to appear in alt.machines.cnc the following:
Yep. What I learned back in the 70's in one of my earliest "real jobs". Everything has a place, and every place - a thing.
I also learned "Might as well do it right the first time, you don't have time to do it over." and the variant "If you haven't time to put it away, what makes you think you're going to have time to look for it?"
tschus pyotr - pyotr filipivich We will drink no whiskey before its nine. It's eight fifty eight. Close enough!
Reply to
pyotr filipivich
Let the Record show that D Murphy on or about Sun, 26 Apr 2009 04:08:04 GMT did write/type or cause to appear in alt.machines.cnc the following:
And you have to have people who have "bought in" and know their shit as well. - pyotr filipivich We will drink no whiskey before its nine. It's eight fifty eight. Close enough!
Reply to
pyotr filipivich
Bill:
You sure threw a hand-grenade in a hornets-nest.
Like most everyone, I've read some articles on Kaizen, Shainin, Kanban, Sig Sigma, JIT, Lean Manufacturing, and whatever trick term of the week is being focused upon. IMO the more levels of management there are between the owner(s) and the end producing employees - the more chance there is for inefficiencies to creep in. Not saying a small shop couldn't benefit from optimization, but some of the Lean techniques can become irrelevant on the lower end of the scale. An example: In JIT (Just In Time) manufacturing parts and procedures are timed so that the cost of inventory is reduced. But in a small job shop, when a machine is setup and already running parts it's often more beneficial to make a some extra parts that repeat regularly, especially if there in nothing pressing in the pipe. That way on the next order all the parts needed might be in stock so a separate setup isn't needed. But small shops don't have the expense of warehouses full of inventory. This is an At The Time judgment where rigid adherence to some Lean procedure may not be financially advantageous. Also, when work is slow parts can be made for stock rather than laying off workers. What I believe is more important in a small shop are employees that have a team member mind-set and help each other to get product out the door in the most cost effective manner. We used to have weekly meetings to go over past jobs and bring up any problems in regards to tooling, machines, material, or anything else that might effect work flow.
Reply to
BottleBob
Ayup....at least half the shops in Californai are using lean techniques.
They laid off at least 25% of the help..and a number of the owners simply locked the front doors and walked away.
Gunner
Reply to
Gunner Asch

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