D & E Industries, Incorporated Approaching the Ideal of Lean Manufacturing Observations, Possibilities, Recommendations

Approaching the Ideal of Lean Manufacturing

Observations, Possibilities, Recommendations









Presented To:

Dr. Bernard Gillespie







Brady J. Robinette









December 4, 2000






The leaders of industry over the next five to ten years will be those who most successfully apply Lean principles across their entire organization.


It is my sincere hope that D&E Industries, Inc. is a member of that august community.


A Few Notes Regarding Style:

As this report is neither strictly scientific in nature nor experiment-based, I chose to avoid use of the third-person perspective. Writings in third person seem dry and, for me at least, are onerous reads.


I much prefer works written in a more genial style… dialog or prose-based. As such, I won’t subject my readers to that which I would avoid.


The reader may notice the sparing use of direct quotations and specific citations. This is due to the nature of this project.  This report and presentation serve as the Capstone for my Masters of Science program. My intent is to synthesize both my own experiential and academic backgrounds. To that end, I have included specific citations only where I feel that the reader may wish additional information. I have included in the References section most of the texts that have shaped my perspective and opinions regarding Lean Manufacturing and associated disciplines. Of course, when specific references are made, I have given the author due credit. In Appendix B, a short list” of texts that I have found to be “standouts” are included with brief comments pertaining to each.





Brady Joaquin Robinette
















Table of Contents

Table Of Contents                                                                          i

Introduction                                                                      1
Lean Philosophy Defined                                                                3

D&E—An Overview                                                                                                  5
History In Brief                                                                                                      5
State of the Business                                                                                              5

Opportunities & Possibilities                                                                                      6
Information Technology                                                                                        7
Planning                                                                                                                 9
Inventory                                                                                                              10
Raw Material / Supplier Relations                                                                11
Work In Process                                                                                            13
Finished Goods                                                                                             16
Production                                                                                                                 17
Manufacturing Philosophy                                                                                   17
Computer Integrated Manufacturing                                                                    20
Quality Control                                                                                                     22
Maintenance Issues                                                                                                    25
Training                                                                                                                      28
Customer Relations                                                                                                    28


Next Step On The Road Toward “Lean”?                                                                 30
The Big PROBLEM                                                                                              30
Performance Measures                                                                                          33
Specific Recommendations                                                                                   35
Conclusion                                                                                                             39
Affecting The Change                                                                                      40


The “Lean Ideal” at D&E                                                                                           43
***Note To The Reader***                                                                                  43
Through The Crystal Ball                                                                                     44
How will these new automated systems change organizations?                           46


Tangential Thoughts                                                                                                  48
Partnering in Education                                                                                        50

Appendix A – Description of Observation                                                                 52
Appendix B — Suggested Readings                                                                          54
References                                                                                                             56




The subject I have chosen for my Capstone project is D&E Industries, Incorporated (hereafter, simply D&E) in Huntington, WV. D&E is a small forge shop that employs approximately 60 people. However, the breadth and depth of technology exhibited at the facility belies their small size. As such, I feel that exploring Lean Manufacturing at D&E Industries offers a mutually beneficial opportunity. As the project title implies, I intend to focus upon Lean Manufacturing principles. My intent is to provide many examples, alternatives, and suggestions.

My primary goal in this Capstone project is to produce a final product that has two characteristics. First, it must be insightful. It should demonstrate a depth of knowledge appropriate for theTechnology Management M.S. program. Second (perhaps MOST importantly), I want the product to be useful to the management of D&E Industries. The knowledge gleaned from my research and reading throughout the course of my program is current and relevant. It is my hope that D&E put to use some of this knowledge. At the very least, perhaps some elements of this project will serve as a catalyst for thoughtful evolution of D&E’s manufacturing process.

I do not expect that D&E will be able to implement all—or even most—of the ideas set forth in this report. Some of the suggestions will be made under idealized assumptions regarding cost, implementation time, scheduling, etc. However, in exploring various options, I intend to demonstrate the process of ‘Lean” thinking. If members of D&E come away with only the ability to approach problemsfrom the Lean perspective, I will consider my time and effort well spent.


True “Lean” thinking can often be a difficult goal… particularly when one is observing from the typical American manufacturing perspective. In a small organization such as D&E, it is especially easy to be caught up in the day-to-day demands of meeting production orders. After all, the number of widgets (or in the case of D & E, S-cams) shipped is what pays the employees, keeps the lights burning and the water running. Finished Goods delivered reliably and on time is what keeps D&E in the business of making S-cams. However, if they are able to make changes, large or small, that enhance their ability to deliver their product, the result would be well worth the effort.

Fewer defects… less scrap… a greater overall margin of profit. These are true possibilities for D&E. The physical changes can be incremental and evolutionary.., but the change in attitude and mindset must be nearly revolutionary in nature. This is a large step, to be sure, but it is one that is becoming increasingly necessary for companies to remain ahead of their competition.


D&E has many of the necessary ingredients to be a model of Lean Manufacturing. It is my hope that this Capstone project helps them along toward that ‘ideal”.