Get lean, eliminate waste

Throw technology at old manufacturing processes and procedures, and you still can get a train wreck; it just happens faster. Infuse lean manufacturing techniques into the hearts and minds of those involved with plant processes, and your technological dollars will go a lot farther. The difference is like comparing the clunky "Warning Will Robinson" Lost in Space robot to the deftness imagined ...


Throw technology at old manufacturing processes and procedures, and you still can get a train wreck; it just happens faster. Infuse lean manufacturing techniques into the hearts and minds of those involved with plant processes, and your technological dollars will go a lot farther. The difference is like comparing the clunky 'Warning Will Robinson' Lost in Space robot to the deftness imagined in I, Robot .

'The biggest obstacle is what's in peoples' heads,' maintains Pascal Dennis, co-owner of Lean Productivity Systems, an educational firm teaching rapid business improvement. Dennis, along with his partner Erik Hager, conducted sessions at Quality Expo in Novi, MI, in June. Their 'Lean Production: Less is More' presentation also appealed to respecting the humanity of those involved. 'People are not going to 'lean' themselves out of their jobs,' warns Hager, noting that Toyota and Honda have commitments not to lay off people, except in dire straights.

Dennis and Hager suggest the need to constantly refine processes, question how things are done, and appeal to motivated employees to set and follow standards. Look at value versus waste, subscribe to 'pull,' (customers buy, you make), and strive for perfection. Waste must be eliminated. Value-adding process activities usually account for just 5% of total time, perhaps 30% for exceptional companies, say Dennis and Hager. That leaves a lot of room to improve. Where?

  1. Wasted motion.

  2. Waiting for product or information required for the process.

  3. Conveyance—Many material flow diagrams look like a pinball game.

  4. Corrections. If you have 'hospitals' to heal products at the end of the line, the process requires emergency surgery.

  5. Over processing. Make customers happy, but don't get ridiculous.

  6. Over production. Don't make more than what's required any sooner than it's needed to avoid many hidden costs of overproduction, including, as Henry Ford said, wasting human time.

  7. Inventory excess. Excesses are often built in to compensate for unstable equipment or processes.

  8. Missed opportunities. Ask: 'What should we do to sustain goals we've set?'

Hager says that in asking people to point out examples of waste during a plant walk-through, excuses and explanations fly. Just identify wasteful processes and why they exist, 'then eliminate them.'

Perhaps as a corollary to Isaac Asimov's First Law of Robotics (in I, Robot ), we should say technology shouldn't be allowed to do harm through process inaction. For related links, read this online at .

Related reading…

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Pipe fabrication and IIoT; 2017 Product of the Year finalists
The future of electrical safety; Four keys to RPM success; Picking the right weld fume option
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
VFDs improving motion control applications; Powering automation and IIoT wirelessly; Connecting the dots
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me