An Article You Should Read About A Great Company: Talan Products

Yeah, it’s kind of easy to say Talan Products is a great company…after all, they were smart enough to hire me to help them implement their lean initiative several years back, right?

Seriously, I can vouch for the fact that, just as this article says, Steve Peplin and Talan Products practice their values every day.

I teach a course at Kent State in which I hold forth that a strong, positive culture provides a strategic advantage for the organization.  Talan Products is strong evidence for this assertion.

Read and enjoy!

How to Implement Lean Manufacturing: Simplify and Solve – Value Stream Mapping and Team Problem Solving: Part 7

Six months ago (yikes!) we were talking about how to develop and use Value Stream Maps.  We had gotten to the point where we had put together a pretty good “Current State” map that included performance data.  We said we’d look, in more detail, at the map and the data we had put together before we went on to creating a “Future State” map. And here we are…a mere SIX MONTHS LATER!  So, let’s get going.

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Lean Methods Could Have Prevented Historic Mistake at the Oscars

OK, so apparently a big mistake was made at the Oscars last night…a really, really big mistake.  The wrong film was announced as Best Picture.  Not Best Sound Editing, not Best Costumes, not Best Foreign Short Animation.  Best Picture.  That’s a REALLY BIG mistake.

To add insult to injury, the mistake wasn’t caught and corrected until the folks representing the wrong movie (LaLaLand) were on stage and had been thanking everyone in their extended families for their love and support.

So, what’s all this have to do with lean methods?

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New Video from FastCap

One of my favorite lean videos was produced and put on YouTube a couple of years ago by a company in Washington state, FastCap.  The video is about 14 minutes long and it’s a tour of the FastCap plant, conducted by the President. It’s the best portrayal of workplace organization and visual factory that I’ve come across.

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Lean Is Often All About the Smallest Things

I always start any project with a few days of information gathering about the operations so that I’ll know a bit of the culture and local language when I get to the leadership planning steps. The info gathering phase is always enjoyable as I get to know the folks within the client organization and tell them what I have in mind.  During the info gathering I always come across conditions and situations that, on the one hand, are easily addressed but, on the other, I fear that the client will think, “Is that all you’ve got?” when I bring it up.

I had the latter experience a few years ago.  I was strongly encouraging a client to implement workplace organization and visual factory methods in the plant.  The thing was, the plant was reasonably clean and organized but just in the usual “decent housekeeping” way that plants sometimes are.  The managers didn’t refuse to take me up on my suggestions but didn’t seem to have much energy in implementing 5S.  They seemed primarily interested in “cost savings kaizens”.  (They couldn’t tell me what savings had come from past kaizens, or even how “cost savings” were to be measured, but that’s another story.)

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The Lean Farm Follow-Up

A few posts ago, I mentioned I was reading (or was about to read) a book I’d come across, The Lean Farm, authored by Ben Hartman.  Well, I’m about two-thirds the way through and I’d recommend it even for (maybe, especially for) folks who are applying lean concepts and methods in other industries.  (Sometimes, examples and illustrations hit home better when they are just a bit outside our intellectual comfort range.)

The book is very nicely organized.  The author does a good job of breaking lean down into its most important elements.  Further, Hartman provides lots of illustrations and examples of his own application of lean tools and methods on his small farm.  Readers familiar with lean won’t learn much that’s new but will be interested in how an astute practitioner has been able to apply lean tools in an agricultural setting.  “Newbies” will get as good an introduction to lean ideas and methods as there is.

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A Really Crummy Article About Lean

I don’t get to the Interest Groups at LinkedIn as often as I should but I browsed around there yesterday and found a really crummy article.  I don’t want to link to it because I don’t want to give it any traffic but it’s title was “The Dark Side of Lean”.  It was one of those articles, the likes I’ve read a number of versions over the years, that seeks to impugn an approach of which the author makes it apparent that he or she knows nothing.   Continue reading A Really Crummy Article About Lean

A Good 5S Example?

Good 5S?
Is this a good example of 5S?

Take a look at this example of 5S.  What do you think….good example or not?  It sure looks good, doesn’t it?  I found this example on LinkedIn, along with some comments as to whether or not it’s a good example. Some of the commenters felt it was a good example given that…well, how orderly everthing is.  Others felt that it’s not such a good example and it’s not the lack of labeling that they mentioned.  Those others asked if five colors of highlighters are really needed. And two different kinds of Post-Its.  And two blue and red pens.  After all the first S is “Sort”.

I would agree that the Sort is key here but we can’t use circumstantial evidence to assume it wasn’t done.  If the user really does need and regularly uses all those highlighters, then it’s a good example of 5S.  On the other hand, if the user generally just takes out the yellow one and keeps the others “just in case”, it’s just an exercise in tidiness.  Same with the pens and Post-Its.

The moral of the story is, it’s not just the good organization that makes this a good example.  It’s the deliberation that went into the effort along the way