July 13, 2006 at Clean Burn

Our next network meeting will be held Thursday, July 13th between 8:30am and Noon at Clean Burn, 34 Zimmerman Drive, Leola, PA 17540, Phone 717.656.2011.

The focus of this meeting will be “the visual factory”. As many of you know, Clean Burn has done a terrific job implementing and maintaining supermarkets, kanbans and other visual techniques. I will take the opportunity to use Clean Burn as a “training prop” and walk, show and explain (with Clean Burn’s input as well) the successful techniques being applied and the basics of their function.

Three attendees per member company are invited. Please recognize that this will be primarily a training session, so choose your attendees accordingly.

Insinger Machine May 16, 2006

All network members and one guest attended our meeting at Insinger Machine in Philadelphia.

In attendance:
Misco Products
Yoder Brothers
Rose Corporation
Clean Burn
Remcon Plastics
Reading Powder Coatings
Guest: American LaFrance

The network toured Insinger’s facility focusing on key improvement opportunities developed by the Value Stream Mapping process completed in Mid-February 2006.
Congratulations to everyone at Insinger for their commitment to continuous improvement and hard work.

Meetings Agenda
Presentation by Insinger Machine CEO Robert Cantor
Introductions of attendees
Plant tour
Strengths/opportunities assessment by all attendees
Discussion of effective performance measures

Perhaps our best network meeting to date. Thanks to all for your valued input.

I am planning our next meeting to be in Mid/late June. If you are interested in hosting please contact me.

Dwight Bowen

Tuesday May 16th

Our next meeting, is being held, Tuesday May 16th, at Insinger Machine, 6245 State Road, Philadelphia, PA 19136-2905, phone 1-800-344-4802, contact Kris Knight. The meeting will be held from 9am until noon.

Insinger has chosen “effective measures” as their topic.

Two participants from each member company are welcome.

We have plans to inject some lively lean discussion during the morning.

Let’s support our network and it’s newest member by attending this event.

thanks to all

Competing April 2006

Paying Attention

Whatever you pay most attention to, most likely, will improve.

Let’s talk about what you can control, each minute, hour, day, week. I am referring to those outcomes you and your team can effect. Perhaps outcomes such as:

  • shipments
  • billable projects completed or billable milestones
  • on-time delivery/fulfillment rates
  • balanced, paced work flow
  • balanced and controlled inventories (raw material, work-in-process or finished goods)
  • internal lead-time
  • rework/scrap/defects
  • machine uptime

…….I am certain you could add to this list.

My experience tells me that the attention is best leveraged by shared measures. I have also found that a clearly communicated measure that is shared with employees in a timely manner has a positive effect on team work and functions as a competitive scoreboard.

So why do so few companies post effective measures? I get many differing answers but I believe most are based in fear of imperfection. If you are waiting for the perfect measure you will likely have a very long wait because I don’t believe it exists. Continuous improvement or Kaizen does not imply that we start with perfect and improve it, continuous improvement implies we start with a plan developed from the collective thinking of people doing the job, then implement using Dr. Deming’s “plan-do-check-act” cycle. Communication is critical to the success of all continuous improvement programs. Develop the plan, then make a list of those you need to support it (when in doubt expand the list) then careful communicate the plan. Remember, it’s not what you say, it’s what your audience hears. Make sure the message is clear…….what is the objective?, why is it important?, what is the process to measure and how do you do it?, how will you know it is working correctly? how will you know when it is not working correctly? and what will you do when it’s not working correctly?

Why wait? Scoreboards get our attention. Make sure the measures are fair, within your teams control and obtainable (you will make mistakes, consider mistakes as an opportunity to communicate to your team).

Summary, Network Meetting at The Rose Corporation March 16, 2006

Thursday March 16, 2006

The Lean Thinking Network gathered at The Rose Corporation in Reading

Subject: Creating Flow and Pace in a Engineer to Order Environment and Maintaining an Effective Continuous Improvement Environment

Attending companies:
Clean Burn/Mill Creek
Reading Powder Coatings
Yoder Brothers
The Rose Corporation

Absent companies:
Misco Products
Remcon Plastics
Insinger Machine

Thanks to Paul, Tom, Scott and Dave for their time and energy. The entire team at Rose has made substantial progress since the network last visited them. Congratulations! Keep up the good work. Overall, attendees were able to see the possiblity of establishing and flow in a “non-standard” environment. Though the road may be difficult, standardization will prove a very powerful, positive tool at Rose.

Maintaining an Effective Continuous Improvement Environment…our discussion focused on measuring and sharing effective performance indicators, training, a commitment to excellent communication of the lean project status, results, expectations etc. as some means of maintaining Continuous Improvement. In addition we asked “who initiates your kaizens?”…if it’s always leadership/management, you may have some cultural issues. Plant tours, the opportunity to show off your teams improvements was also mentioned.

Attendees decided to take another approach to inter-company participation in kaizens. We will pair up and share individuals for kaizen events. We plan to first do a pilot program, improve the process, then open it up to all members. Start thinking about the logistics. Our intentions are to bring outside, lean savvy, non-management people into a their partner company to help in the “point kaizen” process……………….one day max, with implementation follow-up. Implied is a “fair trade system”……..”you have our person for a day, then you send your person to us for a day.”

Our next meeting will take place at WHO: Insinger Machine in Philadelphia. Insinger is in the process of implementing their first Value Stream Map and will have much to show and say about their progress. The specific subject has yet to be determined, but the event will take place WHEN: Tuesday, May 16th from 9am until 12:30pm WHERE: 6245 State Road, Philadelphia, PA 19135 phone 800-344-4802, contacts Kris Knight (x125) or EJ Dealy (x130)

Thank you all very much, I appreciated all your good thinking this morning………keep it up!

Competing March 2006

The Stages of Lean and the Art of Kaizen

The Stages of Lean (according to Dwight)

  1. Beginner – implemented one Value Stream Map “future state” and are experiencing the “honeymoon effect” Improvement is daily, and progress is fast.
  2. Stalling – dealing with the post-honeymoon condition. Lean isn’t as much fun and is no longer new. It still makes sense, but it’s getting a little stale. You get what you measure. What are you measuring?
  3. Stalled – Lean is part of how we do business, but aren’t we Lean now? “Why do we have to continuously improve? We are better than our competition.” What has been standardized? What are you measuring?
  4. Re-emergence – perhaps stimulated by some competitive failure, followed by deep soul searching, commitment and delivery of a carefully audited plan. Not making it to this step defines failure. All companies will stall sometime, some worse than others, it’s how they emerge that will make the difference. Courage, commitment and integrity are the keys. Oh yeah, don’t forget to measure.
  5. Sustainability – the entrance to the “promised land” is in sight. We constantly audit our standardization, measure and post key results. Continuous improvement is a natural component of our workday and an expectation of all employees. By the way, don’t expect to ever get to the “promised land” but never quit trying.

I suspect if Taiichi Ohno or Shigeo Shingo were alive and paid me the honor of reading this, they might say……….ART!!!??? That being said, I believe the effective use of Kaizen is both art (emotions, opinions, creative, situational, political) and science (balance, flow, rules, standardization, measurable etc). I offer Kaizen as a blend of art and science, with a large helping of common sense on the side.

So what is Kaizen? The Kaizen Institute, ,refers to Kaizen as an effective process when it “accomplishes sustainable implementation through the development of the internal structure for deployment and developing strategies that enable the workforce (at all levels) to maintain Continuous Improvement initiatives.”
Bruce Hamilton, President of the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership (and the star of “Toast Kaizen”, refers to kaizen as “small and continuous improvements”. Kaizen uses direct observation and collective thinking to identify and eliminate waste “Muda”, unevenness interrupting flow “Mura” and strenuous conditions of workers, machines and work in process “Muri”.

How do you select areas to Kaizen?

    When you are just beginning you Lean journey, I have found Value Stream Mapping to be the best place to start. This will clarify opportunity and avoid possible “Kaizen drive-bys” which waste both resources and system credibility.

      Stalling and Stalled
      So you have done several Value Stream Maps, and have implemented toward your Future conditions. How can you effectively use Kaizen? Find the weakest point in your value stream (perhaps administrative) and “Kaizen” out the waste.

      How do you select Kaizen teams? Well, tell me about your lean training… has everyone been trained? What do you mean by “trained”? If all the problems are being defined by leadership who then go out recruiting Kaizen team members, either you have not trained effectively or no one believes you will support him or her when the going gets tough. This is not sustainable.

        You have identified and eliminated your cultural and training weaknesses allowing the continuous improvement to gather momentum….. Congratulations!

          Our objective, when there you are fiercely competitive and getting stronger, people love to work there and we make things simple, have fun and make money. Not bad eh?

          Insinger Machine

          Our newest member, located in Philadelphia, is a 113 year old, family owned business, designing and manufacturing high volume dishwasher for the military, institutions and commercial customers.

          Insinger has focused their lean program to reduce lead-time, improve flow, quality, improve and simplify inventory control and build towards a long and profitable future.

          The Insinger team is very excited about Lean and the opportunities it provides them.

          We hope to hold a network meeting at Insinger before summer.

          Next Network Meeting

          Good morning! Our next meeting:

          Where: The Rose Corporation, 401 N. 8th Street, Reading, PA 19601. phone (610) 376-5004

          When: Thursday, March 16, 2006 from 8:30am until Noon

          Who: All network members, with a maximum of TWO ATTENDEES PER COMPANY, due to space limitations.

          What: Our host has selected two subjects………
          #1- Flow, Balance and the creative application of Takt Time in a Engineer to Order Environment (we will walk and talk the flow……starting at the money (naturally) and walking upstream through the process.
          #2- Maintaining momentum for continuous improvement, I will facilitate a discussion of what does and does not work. From this discussion I expect we will develop a list of effective tools for measuring and maintaining the momentum of our continuous improvement processes.

          Summary…Network meeting 1.26.06 @ REMCON PLASTICS

          Thursday January 26, 2006

          The Lean Thinking Network gathered at Remcon Plastics in Reading

          Subject: Kaizen results for their Kayak assembly and Rotomolding areas

          Attending companies:
          Misco Products
          Clean Burn/Mill Creek
          Reading Powder Coatings
          Yoder Brothers
          The Rose Corporation
          Remcon Plastics

          We discussed the difficulties of cultural change, product flow, line balancing, scheduling/capacity planning, safety, quality, measures and 5S (6S to some).
          Thanks again to Rich and Dave at Remcon especially for their time and patience. It was a morning well spent for all.

          Clean Burn asked for an employee of a member company to attend their “Burner Department Kaizen” the scope: from detailing the current situation, designing the desired condition and moving equipment, material and people to support the improved flow. The kaizen will last one week (full days) from Monday March 6, 2006 to Friday March 10, 2006. The network’s plan is to have reciprical arrangement with host and “lender” companies.

          All interested companies please contact me.

          This is our first attempt at this type interaction. We plan to manage it carefully, notice what does and does not work, make improvements and do it again at another company.

          The Who?, What?, When?, Where? and Why? for the next meeting are yet to be determined. I am planning for a March or early April network meeting. PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR THOUGHTS AND IDEAS REGARDING THE NEXT MEETING. The group is much, much more creative and intelligent than me alone planning events.

          Thank you all very much, I appreciated all your good thinking this morning………keep it up!