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All Lean Articles

Ubisense Survey Finds 40% of Manufacturers Have No Visibility into the Real-Time Status of their Process



Press Release - Ubisense

10/2/2014

Ubisense, a global leader in location intelligence solutions, today revealed the results of its 2014 Smart Manufacturing Technologies Survey which secured responses from 252 manufacturing engineers, product designers and quality management professionals. The survey revealed that lack of visibility into manufacturing processes is the most prevalent issue plaguing manufacturers today. Full Article

How to Run a Factory: Timeless Advice from the Late Jim Harbour



Jim Harbour

10/2/2014

Editor’s note: Early lean advocate Jim Harbour, whose Harbour Report prodded the US automotive industry into improving the way it designed and made cars, passed away on September 6th. In his memory we offer the following excerpt from his book, Factory Man, which SME was proud to publish in 2009. Full Article

Innovative Tools Remove the Jagged Edges



Senior Editor Jim Lorincz

10/1/2014

Precision product finishing has come a long way from the days when the principal options for burr removal were manual deburring or high-volume tumbling. Both of those options play an important role in helping manufacturers meet their finishing requirements, especially with the variety of equipment and media available to meet most any part requirement. Full Article

Six Sigma in the Spotlight



Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe

10/1/2014

Other than lean, two of the most downloaded topics from the expansive SME Technical Paper collection are quality and Six Sigma. Zeroing in specifically on Six Sigma, which is all about “zeroing in”—on defects, that is, we find more than 15 papers directly related to the subject. Full Article

Quality Scan: Using Metrology for a Competitive Advantage



Jeff Freeman

9/1/2014

Manufacturing is one of the most challenging industries in the world of business. Foremost, it is highly competitive and attention to detail is crucial. Secondly, structural costs and regulatory compliance increase costs of doing business, leaving manufacturing companies continually looking for opportunities to reduce costs, improve productivity and increase profitability. Full Article

Frost & Sullivan: Lean Strategies and Decentralized Value Chains Fuel RFID Uptake in Manufacturing



Press Release - Frost & Sullivan

8/28/2014

The business model and structure of the manufacturing industry has grown well beyond the scope of a single enterprise and location, making radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions indispensable to its functioning. With increasing adoption of lean manufacturing strategies prompting most industry players to focus on and outsource niche operations within global supply chains, RFID solutions will help sustain high levels of performance. Full Article

Turning to Technology to Confront Skills-Gap Issues



Edward Talerico, Industry and Strategy Director, Infor

8/27/2014

The skills-gap issue in manufacturing has received considerable attention in the national press, but few sound countermeasures are being suggested, not to mention implemented. The aerospace and defense industry, always on the forefront of problem solving, is one of the few market segments that seem to be finding answers to this serious and complex problem. Full Article

Shop Solutions: Safe, Productive Fume Extraction Technology



Edited by Senior Editor Jim Lorincz

7/1/2014

Vermeer Corp., a family-owned and operated company was founded in Pella, IA, in 1948. Vermeer provides agricultural and industrial equipment to customers in more than 60 nations for industries including biomass, landscaping, pipeline, surface mining, tree care, and utility installation. For Vermeer, building a quality product for customers starts with a foundation of well-trained, skilled employees who are valued as its most important resource. Full Article

Shop Solutions: Multipallet HMC Builds KanBan Performance



Edited by Senior Editor Jim Lorincz

7/1/2014

Kenlee Precision Corp. (Baltimore, MD) knows very well the demands that blanket order contracts for multiple parts and different customers can place on a manufacturing operation. “Every week we release a myriad of parts for customers that require reduced lead times, exacting quantities and specifications, on-time delivery and of course, 100% quality,” said Kenneth Lewis Sr., owner of Kenlee Precision. Full Article

Lean Enterprise Institute Appoints James Morgan, PhD, as Senior Advisor for Product Development



LEI Press Release

6/30/2014

In the new post, Morgan, a former global engineering executive at Ford Motor Company, will spearhead several LEI initiatives to accelerate the adoption of lean product and process development. Full Article

Top Five Metal Spring and Stamping Trends for 2014



Steve Dicke, Vice President of Marketing, Connecticut Spring & Stamping

5/29/2014

While I don’t profess to have seen 2014 trends by gazing into a crystal ball, I do feel confident about naming a few developments that will affect the spring and stamping industry this year – and on into the foreseeable future. Full Article

Reconfigurability Still Figures Big in Manufacturing



Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe

5/2/2014

Reconfigurable manufacturing’s guru for more than 20 years, Professor Yoram Koren, presented the latest progress and challenges related to capacity planning and scalability in his keynote presentation April 29 at the CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems (CMS 2014) held April 28-30 at the University of Windsor (ON). Full Article

How A Vendor Managed Inventory System (VMI) Benefits Business



Matthew D. Malkie, Director, Marketing, Military & Commercial Fasteners Corp.

10/11/2013

When a manufacturer has excess inventory not adding value to the process, the inventory is hurting the company’s balance sheet, and is by definition wasteful. Having excess physical inventory on hand increases the need for expensive warehousing space, not to mention the risk of obsolescence. All of these carrying costs put the enterprise at a financial risk. Full Article

Polishing Up on Matters of Process



Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster

10/1/2013

For more than 35 years, MPC Industrial Products (Irvine, CA) has been precisely grinding and polishing metals for airplaces, medical devices and other high-quality products. An ISO 9001/AS9100 certified organization, MPC specializes in finishing the large aluminum skins (up to 8 × 40' [2.4 × 12.2 m]) that wrap the fuselage of the Boeing 737 and other aircraft. Full Article

SME Speaks: Performance Benchmarking Service



Kevin McCormick, Member and Industry Relations Manager (Canada), SME

9/1/2013

In the last five years, I have been very fortunate to work with many manufacturing, processing and producing organizations in every sector imaginable. During this time, I have watched the majority struggle with where to focus their continuous improvement activities. Full Article

Increasing Shop Productivity with a Portable CNC Machine



R. Leonhard, CEO Southwestern Industries

8/23/2013

Smaller machine shops can become more competitive by embracing new ideas to increase their productivity.  Portable CNC second operation machines, integrated into primary machining and turning center work, can provide that productivity.  Full Article

Lean Machining--Integrating the Supply Chain



Michael G. Beason, CEO, Supplier Excellence Alliance (SEA)

8/1/2013

In the aviation cluster of Wichita, Kansas, Cox Machine has been producing aerospace machined components for almost 60 years. Founded by Ernest “Bud” Cox in his garage, the company has grown to 180 employees and roughly $28M in revenue. Cox’s primary products are structural components and assemblies, and it produces products through machining or sheetmetal fabrication. Full Article

Can Lean Help Grease the Way in Oil & Gas?



Contributing Editor Bruce Morey

7/30/2013

Lean manufacturing is generally seen as being best suited to the automotive and similar industries. Full Article

Making an Old Workhorse New Again



Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster

5/1/2013

Compact Power Services is remanufacturing old Bullard VTLs, turning the hulks into “Elec-trols,” modern, efficient powerhouses Full Article

Getting Compressed Air under Control



J. Ned Dempsey, Pneu-Logic Corp. and Barry Hendrix, HBG Consulting

3/2/2013

Energy savings as part of a lean manufacturing strategy Full Article

Lean in Aerospace Metal Finishing: From Industry Step-Child to Lean Poster Child



Douglas Greene, President, Hixson Metal Finishing

3/1/2013

Metal Finishing has historically been known as a messy, poorly organized and managed profession with little accountability and aggravation in spades for all stakeholders.  But small California supplier Hixson Metal Finishing is working to obliterate that reputation and make it as sterling as their long-time home of Newport Beach is beautiful.  Full Article

Taking Action to Avert a Supply Chain Crisis



Dave Lalain Vice President, Commercial Development Automotive Industry Action Group Southfield, MI

1/3/2013

Industry group brings together competitors in order to prevent a global automotive shutdown. Full Article

Viewpoints: Stable Employment is a Key Lean Element



Phillip S. Waldrop, PhD. Professor of Manufacturing and MER Steering Committee member

11/19/2012

Given the shortage of skilled front line workers and leaders, it is critical to the employer to not only hire qualified people, but to then protect their recruitment, selection, and training investment by keeping them on board into the future.  Full Article

The Toyota Way: Helping Others Help Themselves



Jeffrey K. Liker & James K. Franz, Co-Authors

11/1/2012

As we have struggled over the years to make sense of what we learned from Toyota, and to teach it to others in many business sectors, we have developed a broader and deeper view of this thing called “lean.”  Full Article

Focus on the Workforce: Lean Course Teaches Value of Manufacturing



Mark Doman, Pawley Professor in Lean Studies, Oakland University

11/1/2012

When I start my undergraduate Lean Studies course at Oakland University, I ask the students to raise their hands if they have ever been in a plant. Usually, very few hands reach for the sky. When I ask if they are interested in manufacturing, most say, “Not really.” Yet I teach in a suburb of Detroit, the Motor City.  Full Article

Viewpoints: Throughput in Three Steps



Andrew M. Huckey, Project Engineer

10/1/2012

Throughput must be in the forefront of any manufacturer’s mind. Increasing the quantity of quality products delivered is paramount to creating capacity for more sales. On the shop floor, support teams of liaison, manufacturing, and industrial engineers, along with quality assurance technicians, allow mechanics and operators to continue adding value.  Full Article

Dunnage: Often Ignored, Always Important



Nicky Borcea President Sohner Plastics Ann Arbor, MI

10/1/2012

Dunnage used to ship and process automotive parts on the shop floor is a key component in the overall manufacturing process, yet it is often overlooked when companies are working to make lines lean and green. Today, it is important that manufacturers know that most dunnage used to transport parts from start to finish can be reused for the lifetime of production. Full Article

LEAN Manufacturing Through Compact Machining Cell Advancements



Steve Bond, National Sales Manager, RoboDrill, RoboCut and EDM Products, Methods Machine Tools, Inc.

9/28/2012

Manufacturers, regardless of the products they produce, realize that to be successful in a global market, reducing costs and waste throughout their organization is critical.  Amid recession, employers were faced with downsizing in an effort to maintain the bottom line and many turned to LEAN practices to help them survive. Full Article

Enhanced Decision Making Supports A and D Industry's 'Shrink-to-Grow' Strategies



Arsenin Rodriguez, Director - Business Consulting, Infor

9/1/2012

As aerospace and defense companies turn to internal process improvement to combat current market pressures, enhanced decision making is gaining recognition for its role in strategic planning, forecasting and supporting responsive customer service. Enhanced decision-making is becoming an important weapon in the A&D manufacturer’s arsenal. Full Article

Produce, Sustain--and Keep It Clean



Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson

8/1/2012

As with every other part of the supply chain in 2012, the companies in this pavilion are adapting to ever-higher demands in productivity, reliability, and sustainability in an era of cut-throat competition and a still-uncertain economy.   Full Article

Challenging Process Engineering



Senior Editor Jim Lorincz

6/1/2012

Machine tool builders have adopted advanced designs and used computer-aided modeling to develop machine technology that meets requirements of manufacturers from one-off applications to production runs in the thousands or many times greater. The challenges they face are complicated by customer requirements to meet higher degrees of accuracy, increased throughput, improved reliability, and safety and lower cost. Full Article

Kaikaku: Manufacturing Re-Imagined



Alistair Munro, Business Development Manager, Munro & Associates/Lean Design Canada

5/1/2012

As new global environments squeeze down on local manufacturers, it is important to take every opportunity to improve process and reduce cost to be competitive. But how does the modern manufacturer know if they are truly employing best practices? So many once-great American manufacturing firms are becoming vestiges of a quickly fading past glory. Full Article

Self-Directed Work Teams Seeking Perfection



Gaston Pelletier, Vice President of Continous Improvement, Connecticut Spring and Stamping

3/1/2012

For one Connecticut manufacturer of close tolerance precision metal parts, a nearly 20-year commitment to lean manufacturing has naturally evolved into using self-directed work teams (SDWT) to achieve such ambitious objectives as 100% on-time delivery and 100% quality. With the help of a committed management team, a zealous companywide SDWT champion, dedicated team leaders/cheerleaders, and participation of everyone on the shop floor, Farmington, CT-based Connecticut Spring & Stamping, is well on its way to meeting its ambitious goals, just two years after launching the initiative.  Full Article

UpFront: Lean Manufacturing is Green Manufacturing



Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster

2/1/2012

The next waste under attack in lean manufacturing is energy.  It’s not just because “being green” is in vogue for marketers, either. The very premise of lean manufacturing is about eliminating waste, and unnecessary energy use is the epitome of waste.  Full Article

Lean and Green: Energy Savings in Manufacturing



Contributing Editor Joyce Laird

2/1/2012

Is your company ready for ISO 50001, which gives organizations the requirements for energy management systems, and the new energy era?  Full Article

Viewpoints: Process Optimization Ensures Continuous Growth



Kurt Nordlund, President, Seco Tools Inc.

1/1/2012

According to multiple industry indicators that we focus on, manufacturing in the United States will continue to experience positive growth in 2012. As with 2011, this new year’s growth will largely be driven by the fact that manufacturers are continuing to concentrate on the continuous optimization of complete manufacturing processes. Full Article

Applying Lean to New Product Development



Marc Hafer

11/1/2011

As businesses in every sector make their way through an uncertain economy, launching new products that deliver value to customers and create new revenue streams is a critical but difficult task. The ability to launch products quickly and cost effectively has never been more important but also never more challenging. 
Full Article

Lean in a Changed World



Dave Hogg

9/1/2011

The world economy began to change in late 2007, eventually taking manufacturing with it. Neither has settled down yet. Nor are they likely to any time soon. Even though lean continues to be underutilized in North America, there is little doubt that it is respected as the best production system on earth. It continues to be seen as a focusing and waste-eliminating integrator of people, processes, and technology whose combined purpose is to deliver constantly improving results that enable customers to succeed now and in the future. Full Article

Connect Process Flows to Become Lean



Lorin Jovag, Manufacturing Engineer, Physio-Control Inc.

5/1/2011

For more than 55 years, Physio-Control Inc. (Redmond, WA), a unit of Medtronic Inc. (Fridley, MN), has been a manufacturer of portable external heart defibrillator/cardiac monitors, which are considered Class III medical devices. Its Lifepak brand is known for quality and rugged design, and is one of the most-recognized brands in medical devices. Full Article

Viewpoints: Lean Assembly: Hard to Find in China



Richard J. Schonberger

4/1/2011

We’ve all read the stories: angry employees at Chinese factories protesting and striking over working conditions, pay, and in some cases co-workers’ suicides. And companies responding with wage increases.It’s a bitter palliative: Chinese companies are jacking up pay so employees will stay at their workstations doing intolerable jobs. How intolerable? Full Article

Too Many Problems



Jamie Flinchbaugh, Lean Learning Center

7/1/2010

How many managers have just the right amount of work on their plates? I doubt many, at least from my observations and surveys. Many are overloaded; quite a few are overwhelmed. A large percentage of a manager's time is often spent on problems, both those chosen and those that simply pop up and demand attention. Many managers would simply describe their work as solving problems. Full Article

Lean Techniques: Yokoten



Michael Paris, President, Paris Consultants Inc.

5/1/2010

If you have never heard the term Yokoten, prepare yourself. It has been added to the Lean Operations lexicon as an important activity. Yokoten is being used by lean firms to help them become leaner. Yokoten is a Japanese term that can be roughly translated as "across everywhere." In the Japanese lean system, it is used to mean "best practice sharing." In short, Yokoten is used to talk about the transfer of lean manufacturing knowledge and practices from one operation to another. Full Article

Implementing Lean Manufacturing



Elizabeth Cudney, Assistant Professor, Missouri University of Science and Technology

3/1/2010

 Analyze each step in the original process before making changes. Full Article

Viewpoints: Sustain Lean During the Recession



James P. Womack, Founder and Chairman, The Lean Enterprise Institute

3/1/2010

We've all now learned one more time that stable growth is hard to achieve in modern economies. The lure of financial fiddles to garner short-term windfalls is very strong, and the will of politicians to nip bubbles in the bud is very weak. Then, when the bubble bursts, regulators—like generals preparing for the last war—put controls in place to prevent the disaster that has just occurred, not the next one. Full Article

Sustaining a Lean Culture



Editor Brian J. Hogan

11/1/2009

Earlier this year, at the 21st annual Shingo Prize conference awards ceremony, Autoliv Americas' airbag module facility in Ogden, UT, was awarded The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence. This was the second Shingo Prize won by the Autoliv Ogden Airbag Assembly (AOA) plant. The Shingo Prize is named in honor of the great Japanese manufacturing engineer Shigeo Shingo, co-inventor of the Toyota Production System (in other words, lean manufacturing). It's considered the Nobel Prize of the manufacturing world. Full Article

Lean Decision Making



Chris Harris and Rick Harris, Lean Enterprise Institute

9/1/2009

In this volatile market, manufacturers that produce automotive products (e.g. instrument panels) must react to that volatility correctly and quickly. One way that production plants have to deal with changing customer demands is to create flexibility in their manufacturing systems by using an operator balance chart. The operator balance chart can be a key tool for creating flexibility in a facility supplying products. Full Article

Lean Principles Don't Exclude Automation



John Burg, President, Ellison Technologies Automation

7/1/2009

If you're not yet a cheerleader for lean principles in manufacturing and automation, perhaps you should be. There are a number of important reasons why lean makes sense (and cents), but the most important is that it might just save your job and allow your company to keep manufacturing in the US.     Full Article

Lean Lives on the Floor



Art Smalley and Tom Harada, Lean Enterprise Institute

5/1/2009

The Toyota Production System (aka lean manufacturing) has received lots of positive publicity over the past couple of decades in the US and other countries. The recent economic downturn and subsequent decline in company profits may dent some of that enthusiasm, but I suspect the attraction will resume and continue to grow in the future. Despite many attempts at implementation, few companies have been able to match Toyota's success.     Full Article

10 Questions



Gary Conner, President, Lean Enterprise Training

3/1/2009

In the journey to become a world-class manufacturer, there are many tools to utilize, many techniques to apply, many terminologies to learn. Please take time to answer each of the following ten questions. If you find a term unfamiliar, or if you have difficulty answering a particular question, it's possible that difficulty can lead to an opportunity to educate yourself and your team about these terms, tools, and techniques.   Full Article

Lean Automation



Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak

2/1/2009

Lean manufacturing principles and automation systems can coexist, although many lean purists contend that lean goals conflict with using automation. Smart applications of automation, however, can result in deployment of systems that are both automated and lean, with flexible manufacturing systems that can be easily reconfigured as factory operations change.     Full Article



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