A Lean Manufacturing Case Study/Article
by: Blane P. Jarchow
During the past several years, Lean Manufacturing has received a great deal of attention in its application to manufacturing companies. The results can be dramatic. The savings achieved in WIP reduction, MCT reduction and other manufacturing related metrics have been unprecedented and far outweigh those achieved by "traditional" improvement methods. The Lean Manufacturing methodology is a life-changing way of doing business that creates significant sustainable results. These new ways of thinking have typically been so different they prevented the firm from fully implementing Lean in the organization.
Gone are the days of building the perfect balance between all of the various points in your manufacturing operation and building product in huge batches. Gone are the days of not noticing product problems until there is a huge amount already built. Gone are the days of low yield. Product quality as measured was good, but the process has led to the build up of analysis mills for the sake of output. Lean Manufacturing implemented as described in this article will dramatically improve all of these areas and leave your workers as happier and more productive people. It enhances management’s understanding and control of operations, and improves the decision making process.
This summary describes the partnership that formed between the Client and the Consultant. Together, they developed Lean Manufacturing methodologies that have in one area reduced WIP by over $400,000,000 over a six-month period in 2001. Use of these methodologies caused a $20,000,000 drop in WIP in one product area in 2000. The background history of its development and a brief overview of the process are contained in this article. Although, the actual creation and implementation of this process took approximately one year, once developed it was fully implemented with over 1,000 Associates and in another part of the facility in only six months. Each subsequent implementation was on a larger scale. This dramatic change in manufacturing methodology is helping Client meet the difficult challenges faced by hi-tech.
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