Approaching the Ideal of Lean Manufacturing
Observations, Possibilities, Recommendations
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
Lean Philosophy Defined 3
D&E—An Overview 5
History In Brief 5
State of the Business 5
Opportunities & Possibilities 6
Information Technology 7
Raw Material / Supplier Relations 11
Work In Process 13
Finished Goods 16
Manufacturing Philosophy 17
Computer Integrated Manufacturing 20
Quality Control 22
Maintenance Issues 25
Customer Relations 28
Next Step On The Road Toward “Lean”? 30
The Big PROBLEM 30
Performance Measures 33
Specific Recommendations 35
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
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”.