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Lean Manufacturing Articles


This leads us to Step Two, where employee growth and involvement are part of a company's culture. Peter Senge defines a learning organization as "an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its fu­ture." In a lean manufacturing environment, continu­ous learning and improvement in the capability of people are promoted in every department and at all lev­els. The company continually reinforces "the idea that personal growth is truly valued in the organization. There is nothing more important to an individual com­mitted to his or her own growth than a supportive envi­ronment." People are trained to master their assigned jobs and are certified in their ability to meet productiv­ity and quality standards. Employee training plans are posted at work cells that indicate progress and flexibil­ity to perform multiple operations. Employees are trained in problem solving methodologies and tech­niques such as Ford's 8d process. A manufacturing

Leader at a contract electronics manufacturer (CEM) in the Midwest faced an unacceptable scrap rate of 1.25 percent of sales. The improvement team determined the Pareto of causes for scrap and used the problem solving process to determine the root cause and preventive actions for the top item. They have continued to elimi­nate problems on the list, and have reduced their scrap rate 0.26 percent of sales.


A manufacturing company in Wales has a training department that maintains the training matrix for salaried and hourly employees. They ensure that the train­ing plans match job requirements and employee desires, and monitor progress against scheduled completion dates. When the trainers are not training employees, they verify that employee skill levels meet quality and out­put requirements. As the result of their training, the employees understand the concept of waste and how to identify activities that absorb resources but create no value. Forms of waste include the following:

•   Lost capacity

-      Equipment breakdown

-      Material availability

-      Material shortages

-      Yield loss, rework, and scrap

-      Preventive maintenance

-      Material quality

-      Non-optimal performance

-      Changeover.

•   Other forms of waste

-      Material transport

-      Material storage

-      Inspection

-      Delays

-      Walking

-      Overproducing

-      Idle time or waiting

-      Excess inventory.

Employees at the Wales site are able to convey the company's vision and mission related to customer and quality performance. The result is that trained and moti­vated employees want to know if they are making progress. A formalized measurement system is in place that defines customer expectations, and improvement targets and progress. Two companies are using a single-page quality chart that includes a trend line against im­provement target, Pareto listing of the top causes for rejects, and a Paynter chart that tracks the impact of corrective actions over time. This chart and the problem-solving report for the top Pareto quality problem are posted at the manufacturing cell so that all employees are aware of progress and the actions taken to improve.

To Be Continued

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

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 14

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