Business Basics
Home Page

Who is Bill Gaw?
And why should we
listen to him?


lean manufacturing principles and techniques training

How to implement, optimize and sustain
a lean manufacturing program
The Lean Manufacturing Toolbox

Add pizzazz to your lean training
program with participative exercises.

Manufacturing Simulation Game-Plus

ERP Implementation
Part 3 of 4

privacy policy

To review our training
packages, simply click
on any of the links below:

Training Materials and Options

Lean Manufacturing Solutions

Lean Manufacturing Toolbox

Performance Measurement Training

Poka-Yoke and
Process Improvement Training

Lean Manufacturing -
Small and Medium
Sized Businesses

Supply Chain
Inventory Management

Lean Six Sigma

Strategic Planning Training

World Class Manufacturing

Continuous Process Improvement

Kaizen Training

Kaizen Blitz Event


Best-In-Class Manufacturers

Best of Gaw Lean Management Articles

Golf Training Program


A simplified manufacturing environment provides a company with a clear picture of available material and capacity. This type of visibility is the foundation of the Just-in-Time (JIT) and lean manufacturing movements and is critical for ERP implementation success. Simplifi­cation allows for the elimination of process steps designed to add buff­ers of capacity, labor, and/or material. The idea is to eliminate pro­cesses that are not needed and then only automate what remains. It has been demonstrated over and over again that something as intuitive as simplifying a storeroom layout prior to automation can cut search and retrieval time in half. The "understanding" step of the USA Principle reveals processes that can be profitably simplified. Areas to focus on for simplification include the following:

Product design—Often manufacturing organizations have many products with similar components or subcomponents. An excellent area for simplification is the modularization of bills of material. If an orga­nization can take its complex array of end items and reduce the num­ber of components and common parts, it can achieve simplification of product. A paint gun manufacturing company was producing guns in a make-to-order fashion. Lead times were long, manufacturing costs were high, and capacity was running short.

After careful analysis, the manufacturer determined that much of the gun assembly could be modularized and standardized to be used in multiple gun configurations and the components could built and stored prior to actual customer orders. When a customer order arrives, the component parts can be assembled to meet the requirements for virtu­ally any gun. This reduced lead times and manufacturing costs while increasing capacity.

Outsourcing—Accounting departments have been outsourcing pay­roll for years. Why? Because keeping current with tax laws, tracking the garnishment of wages, and reconciling overtime claims are not value-added services. It is time for other departments to outsource te­dious, non-value-added tasks.


It can be done. A New York manufacturer of cement mixers had a motor subassembly with over 60 parts from different vendors. The kitting of the parts and the paperwork associated with all the vendors swamped the small manufacturer. They simplified this process by ar­ranging to have a preferred vendor perform the kitting. By doing so, they eliminated over 59 purchase orders, 59 invoices, and 59 receiptsa substantial reduction of unnecessary work.


Consider internal processing and paper shuffling to determine what processes to outsource. Look at every process within your company. Analyze each process to see if it adds value. If it does not—outsource it.


Housekeeping—Develop the discipline within the manufacturing organization to have a neat, clean shop floor. A sloppy, crowded, disor­ganized area is a warning that there are training problems, procedures, facilities, or equipment that are not up to the job. In addition, time and effort are spent on finding inventory and tools when it could be better spent on producing product. Consolidate material, improve marking and labeling, have a proper place for everything, work on alleviating congestion. Try checklists and an emphasis on orderliness.


One company had trouble finding finished goods during a pick-and-pack operation so they ended up having more finished goods than necessary. However, after changing the storeroom layout, they found that they didn't need as much inventory since it was now all visible and could be found more quickly.

Workflow and work cell layout—Many manufacturers are famil­iar with the concept of arranging presses, punches, and assembly benches into work cells to increase plant floor throughput. However, few organizations consider office work cells. The idea is not as unrea­sonable as you may think.

For example, if order entry personnel are constantly asking account­ing for a credit check, place a credit manager with order entry person­nel. If customer service has to constantly seek out engineering for revi­sion information, place an engineer side by side with the customer ser­vice representatives. If AP is constantly checking with purchasing on pricing, consider placing an AP clerk back with the purchasing agent and so on. There is no reason why the accounting function cannot be spread throughout the office.


The office area of a manufacturing or even a service organization is fertile ground for functional layout improvements. With a little creativ­ity, areas within the office can be organized into highly productive work cells. A reorganization of the office area can duplicate the gains manu­facturing organizations achieve through plant floor reorganizations.


Eliminate duplicate effort—In many organizations data is typed into one system, and then another, and even another. It is not unusual for a manufacturing company to have the sales department write up a customer order by hand and then have the information retyped onto shipping papers, acknowledgments, and invoices. This amount of re­typing is not only a waste of time but practically guarantees mistakes. A simplified process should capture all of the necessary information once and then retrieve the information only when needed through the use of the ERP system.

Increase the number of processes—This seems contradictory to the simplification step of the USA Principle, but in reality it is not. An increase in the number of processes performed by an organization ac­tually streamlines daily activities. Traditional processes are usually overly complex because incorporate special procedures, checks, and steps to handle all possible exceptions. This slows the processing of items without exceptions—the majority of processing.

The first step in any process should be a classification step. By classifying the type of response required by the situation, an order can then travel down the path tailor-made for its unique situation. It is a kind of "triage" which provides a quick resolution for common situa­tions and rapid identification of all exceptions. If a situation arises that doesn't fit any current processes, it can be easily identified and ad­dressed as a onetime exception, or a process can be developed to handle any recurrences of the situation.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 11

A Gift for You

Need help in bringing this training to your company, may I suggest that you forward this Web page to your leader. If you do, we'll send you our Power-Point presentation, "7-Rules for Surviving in an Entirely New Economy."

To open the
"Forward to" form:



To stay current on Lean Management Basics and Best Practices, subscribe to our weekly MBBP Bulletin... and we'll send you our PowerPoint presentation, "Introduction to Kaizen Based Lean Manufacturing™." All at no cost of course. 


First Name:
Your E-Mail:

 Your personal information will never 
be disclosed to any third party.

privacy policy

Here's what one of our 13,000 plus subscribers
wrote about the MBBP Newsletter:

"Great manufacturing articles. Thanks for the insights. I often share portions of your articles with my staff and they too enjoy them and fine aspects where they can integrate points into their individual areas of responsibilities. Thanks again."

               Kerry B. Stephenson. President. KALCO Lighting, LLC

"Back to Basics" Training for anyone ... anywhere ... anytime

Business Basics, LLC
6003 Dassia Way, Oceanside, CA 92056
West Coast: 760-945-5596 

© 2001-2009 Business Basics, LLC