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Interesting Topic Lean Manufacturing Concepts - Is 'Lean' hype?

Is 'Lean' hype?


  • Total voters
    61
  • Poll closed .
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Ernst Kong

#91
I hate those consultant-turned-promoter-of-lean but i'm a supporter of the concept, and benefit from it.

Here's some quick feedback to your points:-

1] Improving capital equipment is a good thing.
2] Unschedule down-time. Let's face it, u only take away the buffer little by little , through Kaizen, noone is suggesting u do it overnight, and St. Loius is a relatively safe place to manufacturer compare with Japan.
3] The directors do it with/without lean, why blame lean?
4] Non-value added inspection, I know u've been hurt badly on this issue, but hey, the transition from full inspection to sampling to elimination of inspection is not a bad thing, it was simply implement incorrectly (as in your case).
5] Exactly. The little red button that stop production does just that - make sure every bit of dust is exposed from under the carpet, isn't that great? Again, implementation is the key.
6] Lean does not increase sales, it merely make sure customer is satisfied, with fewer defects, with better engineering ,which in turn ensure 73% of Toyota owner would buy another Toyota.
 

Bev D

Heretical Statistician
Staff member
Super Moderator
#92
Yep. This is the problem I have with most LEAN programs. (Remember, I am a charter member of the Lean Division of American Society for Quality.)

For too many companies, the opening salvo is: "We will reduce employee count!"

In fact, the ideal is to expand sales and production to gainfully employ all employees, not shrink the workforce.
I am going to ignore the NEAT thing...
however, what we do find is that almost all companies that "implement lean methods" with the intention of reducing headcount as a primary benenfit fail at the implementation. Lean isn't about reducing heads; it really is intended to grow productive headcount as the business grows. BUt we see this kind of failure with any overhyped underimplemented program - be it Deming philosophies, ISO, Six Sigma whatever. it's the fault of the implementation and the motivation - not the methodology that fails.
 

Bev D

Heretical Statistician
Staff member
Super Moderator
#93
A couple of Quick points on Lean.

1) By switching to just in time inventory you do temporarily increase cash flow by reducing inventory however if you are a small company with ineffcient equipment that increase in cash flow goes into improving capital equipment and improving maintenance costs.

2) Should you have unscheduled production down time for equipment failure or even the weather (St Louis loses power everytime it freezes) you have no recovery for customer scheduling.

3) One of the tenants of lean is that people should not lose their jobs do to increased effciency but this is not the case in corporate America. How many people were let go when you realized a 60% improvement. I know I was a vicitm of lean done wrong along with ten others.

4) Reduction of non-value added items such as inspection. While I agree it would be nice if all operators were skilled technicians that had pride in their work but in most shops that's Fantasy Land. In actuality people make mistakes and management hires temps. Without some form of double check system the time saved without inspection is made up on problem solving after the customer recieves defective product.

5) Here is one of my favorites in a lean system when a defect is found you are to stop production and resolve the problem. Since you are in a pull system you can only pull to the defective process creating a gap in deliveries. If this is a major problem such as a design flaw then your screwed. Without a quality system (ISO, QS, TQM or {insert abbreviation here}) forcing design control you are going to spend a lot of time explaining poor on-time delivery.

6) Like Quality Initiatives, Lean does not inrease your sales it only reduces your waste so you are saving money not making it.

Now I do like many of the key concepts of lean such as 5S, Quick change overs, Kiazen, Cellular Manufacturing, Kanaban boards and visual controls. Most of these concepts have been around for 50 years and giving them some fashionable name such as "Lean" does not make them perfect. In 5-10 years we will be investing our implementation and presentation skills on the next fad.
Ernst addressed most points very well, so I will touch on only a couple.

You actually have a common misconception about stopping production for every defect until it is resolved. You don't actually do that - in fact as you point out that would be suicide.
*The point with this is that you should repair every defect as soon as found (unless there is a physics reason to delay)
*The line is to be stopped when there is an "assignable cause" - there is a new defect or there is a statistically significant increase in the defect rate. Feedback and feed up is to be immediate. sometimes it's simple and a quick feedback will correct the cause (if it's an error in a setting or a wrong bolt picked) and turn it off. In these cses it is also desirable to discuss mistake proofing adn other permanent corrective actions - but this can wait until the daily meeting or sent to off line support.
*Tough recurring problems do not stop production but offline support is supposed to be working on these in a prority manner and there shoudl be some containment in place - even if it is only a solid rework/repair method.
The idea is to surface allproblems - keep them visible - and keep the focus on solving them; don't ignore them and don't hide them...what is wrong with that?

Reduction of non value add: you may have been burned on this but that's because of a wrong implementation not a fault of the concept. In fact, Lean (or I really prefer toyota production system - TPS) is again logical in this. OF COURSE you willalways need some type of inspection for some things at various times. in fact the point of 100% 'failsafe' or poke yoke inspection methods are for this very purpose...TPS also drives you to root casue corrective action that prevents recurrence (ISO anyone?); true hard fixes and SPC that allow you to forgo the final release QA type inspection as much as possible. Remember Lean is a goal not a destinition - it is called the ideal state by Toyota becase they know you never actually get there.

No Lean doesn't directly increase sales. but you do get more cash by reducing costs. and who can argue with more cash? in fact it's awfully tough to eke out a few more dollars at 1-20% by increasing revenue, but reduce costs by 1 to 20% - now that's real money.

as for your first point about power outages and stuff - that's why Lean has buffers. they aren't as big as 'batch and queue' adn they are more deliberate adn calculated. They do protect you from the 'unexpected' not a Katrina or a september 11 or a magnitude 8 earthquake, but you need other kinds of protection for those types of events. batch and queue won't protect you then either.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#94
On the issue of does Lean reduce costs or increase sales, I will weigh in that good inventory management and balancing of production line flows (such as Theory of Constraints) can certainly increase production rates. So, yes, I can reduce costs due to idle time and rework, but I can take those resources previously consumed as idle or rework, and apply them to increasing production. Now, yes, someone needs to be willing to buy the increased number of products.
 
W

wmarhel

#95
A couple of Quick points on Lean.
I'll respond point by point:

1) Just-in-Time (JIT) is a by-product or goal, and not a strategy unto itself. It bothers me to no end that even some of the APICS (Association for Operations Management) material still refers to JIT as if it is an entity unto itself. As far as maintenance costs, it is much more expensive over the long haul to run equipment until failure as opposed to working towards preventative maintenance.

2) Bev summed it pretty well. For catastrophic events, there isn't much anyone can do. For shutdowns of a day or so, I would argue that the facility which employs smaller batches and has less waste will recover much faster. Refer back to the story of NUMMI. Here's the summary:

"Within two years of the restart of this plant under Toyota’s management, production system, and labor relations, the same union leaders, largely the same workforce, and with the same relatively old technology had become the most productive and highest quality auto producer in the U.S."

3) Typically, a few things occur: people that "refuse" to buy-in are let go (and these people exist) or the downsizing happens through attrition. I hate to say it, but companies that have excessive headcount, will need to downsize. It is simple economics, and rarely will the sales growth happen fast enough to counter this unfortunate necessity. If it was me, I would reduce headcount before embarking on the transition and then adjust as needed. Future downsizing shouldn't be necessary because the real strategy should be long-term growth.

4) I would argue that not all inspection is non-value added. Unfortunately, there is a tendency whenever a problem pops up for people to want to put in another inspection point/station instead of getting to the root cause.

5) If you aren't going to stop the process for producing defects then why bother with it worrying about it all? One of the problems Toyota faces with new people is that they have a tendency to "NOT" pull the cord and stop the line often enough. The trick is to put solutions into place that will make it less likely that the problem will happen again. It it keeps being a occurring over and over, then it was never fixed in the first place.

6) Lean creates excess capacity which in turn opens up oppportunities to go after new business. It also frees up cash, through the elimination of waste, so that further investments can be made into the business.

Now I do like many of the key concepts of lean such as 5S, Quick change overs, Kiazen, Cellular Manufacturing, Kanaban boards and visual controls. Most of these concepts have been around for 50 years and giving them some fashionable name such as "Lean" does not make them perfect. In 5-10 years we will be investing our implementation and presentation skills on the next fad
My argument is that these aren't concepts that can be applied willy-nilly or thought of as tools in a toolbox. These methods are designed to work together and more often than not, contain elements of one another. Lean which is really some catchy term used to describe the Toyota Production System, and which has taken on a life of it's own, doesn't truly represent the process.

I would argue that both "Lean Manufacturing" and the "Toyota Production System" would be viewed as inaccurate descriptions by Taiichi Ohno. He himself states that it is a way to manage the business and not just out on the shopfloor.

Wayne
 
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duecesevenOS - 2009

#96
I just decided that I was going to read all 10 pages of this thread and it was definately interesting. I think I only noticed one actual disention from the principles of lean.

A lot of people seem quite perturbed by the fact that many people don't understand the origins of "lean." I'm new to all of this and unlike a the majority of the people who have responded to this post, I'm not one of the experts. I came to this forum to specifically learn more about these concepts.

I think that it's interesting to note that I have never been told that my company is currently implementing lean concepts. My company is in fact implementing what it has termed PES. The production enterprise system is a company term (much like gobbleygook) that describes our own forays into the TPS world. It is very much based on Toyota but we were immediately introduced to the fact that Toyota got most of it's ideas from American concepts of quality.

When i wanted to do more background research on the PES principles I'd been introduced to, I immediately started studying the Toyota Production System because there was information on that (not a whole lot of people out there discussing our buzz word of PES). After absorbing all I could on Toyota I realized that more information could be found on the subject in the form of "Lean." It was all related but with the subtle differences that always come up with different sources. My lean investigations led me here, to Elsmar. Here I found out that lean, six sigma, Toyota, and gobleygook all probably originated from the thinking of Demming, Shewert, and some other guys i've never met.

Even if Lean is nothing more than a new package for an old product, the fact is, the new package sells better. People besides degreed professionals comprehend the Toyota concepts and run with them. There just aren't many companies out there doing "Demming Principle Initiatives."

The arguments against "lean" remind me of the arguments I'd have with my high school chemistry teacher when i couldn't ace a test because I didn't know the guy who discovered some reaction. I didn't care where the concept came from I just new that it worked because it worked.

Lean works so it's not hype.
 
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Ernst Kong

#97
Lean works so it's not hype.
Yes and No.

It is not hype IF you are in a stable manufacturing environment AND willing to spend 10 good years on it.

It is hype IF the board of directors want it done in 6 months AND rename the company Toyota2....
 
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duecesevenOS - 2009

#98
I kind of disagree that lean is only for stable manufacturing companies. I work with (not for) a company that makes solid rocket motors for NASA and the defense department. They have been going "lean/TPS" for about 8 years. The differences it has made there are amazing and they are not necessarily a "stable" manufacturing environment. Many of the motors they make for NASA are one of a kind or come in orders of 5-10. I wouldn't call that stable.

Unless by stable you mean that the company will still have to be in business, I disagree. The TPS concepts make changes in schedule much easier to handle.

You are right that lean will not gain true benefits unless it is utilized for multiple years. I think that a tenet of the TPS system is that continuous improvement will continue. So any company expecting to "finish up" their leaning in six months is not actually using the system. That doesn't make lean hype, it makes that companies attempt at lean hype.
 

psyched1

Involved In Discussions
#99
The company in question is operating in a deficit for the third and possibly final year of existance all of which were under the term lean manufacturing.

What I believe has happened is a slow gun fast bullet approach in which the concepts were not applied in the most effective fasion. Things that were not addressed up front were over complication of design, not designing for manufacturability, suppliers chosen on price over quality, lack of SPC in controlling for critical machine dim. and I could go on.

Lean does not address design issues from a preventive stand point thats where the QS fits in.

Yes when you become the critic asking why we are not addressing design/supplier issues prior to implementing lean your job does become risky. Our President waved his ISO flag and thought these issues were covered while the QM hid from them by playing gold with our auditor.

1. Investing in capital equipment is a good thing but more typical we ended up investing in maintance parts rather than purchasing new equipment. (example a six spindel drill station that was used during World War 2 as a critical piece of manufacturing equipment.)

2. While I sighted catostrophic events I did not consider unplanned absentism of key operators (critical when the majority of your operators are temps), Last minute scheduled increases by sales or a variety of other problems. I can see Lean working better in job shops not mass manufacturing.

3. We (me a QE, two design engineers, facilities engineer and the companies Finacial Officer) lost our jobs not due to a lack of work but because of negative cash flow. Funny all of those let go felt we did not have our ducks in a row when we attempted lean.

4. When you use suppliers that manufacture machine parts literally from their barn you need to have incoming inspection in place. When this was forcibly removed by our Lean guru we instantly increased warranty returns and test tank failures but we did have two warm bodies moved to production.

5. Many of the problems were represented in a lack of a robust design process with design for manufacturability paths. If you are to pull the chain on this problem you are back to the drawing board.

6. I still disagree and believe you are not increasing cash flow but redistributing it to maintenance.

While I have never had the oppurtunity to witness lean done right but there must be a logical order to implement lean concepts that was not used by my previous employer.

I am currently working with a build board (Kanban our management freaks when I use Japanese terms maybe i should coin the term "Stealth Lean") in our Quality dept and hope that with some success we can promote this to manufacturing and design. The board is in one of the most public places giving everyone immediate status updates on projects.

We have already applied 5S but that did not catch on since our lab is somewhat remote from the manufacturing floor.
 

psyched1

Involved In Discussions
The company in question is operating in a deficit for the third and possibly final year of existance all of which were under the term lean manufacturing.

What I believe has happened is a slow gun fast bullet approach in which the concepts were not applied in the most effective fasion. Things that were not addressed up front were over complication of design, not designing for manufacturability, suppliers chosen on price over quality, lack of SPC in controlling for critical machine dim. and I could go on.

Lean does not address design issues from a preventive stand point thats where the QS fits in.

Yes when you become the critic asking why we are not addressing design/supplier issues prior to implementing lean your job does become risky. Our President waved his ISO flag and thought these issues were covered while the QM hid from them by playing golf with our auditor.

1. Investing in capital equipment is a good thing but more typical we ended up investing in maintance parts rather than purchasing new equipment. (example a six spindel drill station that was used during World War 2 as a critical piece of manufacturing equipment.)

2. While I sighted catostrophic events I did not consider unplanned absentism of key operators (critical when the majority of your operators are temps), Last minute scheduled increases by sales or a variety of other problems. I can see Lean working better in job shops not mass manufacturing.

3. We (me a QE, two design engineers, facilities engineer and the companies Finacial Officer) lost our jobs not due to a lack of work but because of negative cash flow. Funny all of those let go felt we did not have our ducks in a row when we attempted lean.

4. When you use suppliers that manufacture machine parts literally from their barn you need to have incoming inspection in place. When this was forcibly removed by our Lean guru we instantly increased warranty returns and test tank failures but we did have two warm bodies moved to production.

5. Many of the problems were represented in a lack of a robust design process with design for manufacturability paths. If you are to pull the chain on this problem you are back to the drawing board.

6. I still disagree and believe you are not increasing cash flow but redistributing it to maintenance.

While I have never had the oppurtunity to witness lean done right I believe in many of its core prinicpals but there must be a logical order to implement lean concepts that was not used by my previous employer.

I am currently working with a build board (Kanban our management freaks when I use Japanese terms maybe i should coin the term "Stealth Lean") in our Quality dept and hope that with some success we can promote this to manufacturing and design. The board is in one of the most public places giving everyone immediate status updates on projects.

We have already applied 5S but that did not catch on since our lab is somewhat remote from the manufacturing floor.
 
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