The most powerful but least-used tool to inspire efficiency

Posted by Rick Winkler on Apr 25, 2018 4:12:18 PM

Throughout my 20+year journey with continuous improvement, I’ve helped individuals experience a wide array of necessary “tools” for executing lean continuous improvement (CI). But none are perhaps more integral for success than standard work.

Standard work is likely the most powerful—but least used—lean tool available for individuals and organizations hoping to make change and inspire efficiency improvements. By documenting the current best practice, standard work creates the baseline for kaizen or continuous improvement events. It is important to understand that the baseline standard created initially is expected to be improved upon (hence continuous improvement); the new standard becomes the baseline for further improvements, and on and on.

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Spotlight on Success: Leveraging lean for an organization-wide efficiency transformation

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Apr 24, 2018 11:34:34 AM

Advantage Components, Inc.  |  60 employees  |  www.aciwires.com

ACi is a contract cable and wire harness manufacturer located in Joliet, Illinois.

SITUATION

In early 2014, Advantage Components, Inc. (ACi) began to see exponential growth in sales and subsequent production. But with space constrained in their current facility, the company knew it was time to make room in the existing facility or expand beyond their four walls. ACi leadership, had previous experience working with the principles of lean manufacturing and were interested in committing to increasing efficiencies in the current space before committing to a new facility. Through a quick online search of experts in the field of lean, ACi discovered IMEC.

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Visionary Leadership: Keys to a Successful Continuous Improvement Transformation

Posted by Roger Shrum on Apr 11, 2018 7:37:00 AM

Written by Roger Shrum, IMEC Regional Manager

In my work with manufacturers, I’ll encounter leaders who are frustrated with the slow pace of implementation of their continuous improvement programs.  They are concerned that they are not seeing the payback they were hoping for.  What I share with them is sometimes unsettling: Many enterprise-wide lean deployment programs become stalled because the top manager in the company has not clearly articulated his/her personal vision and committed to making it successful.

In one example, a company I was advising faced chronic late delivery problems, which jeopardized its reputation with longstanding customers and opened the door for its competitors to take business away.  The company was forced to work significant overtime and expedite production just to stay in the game. This company had a history of waiting for a downturn in business to shore up its delivery performance. Along the way, they “dabbled” in implementing lean methods, but as orders increased, a full lean implementation was shelved.  In retrospect, these well-meaning, busy leaders now realize that they may have missed an opportunity for significant growth by not positioning the company to adequately meet customer needs during the upside of the cycle.  

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Retro Commissioning Proves 'Blessing' to Quincy Hospital

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Mar 21, 2018 10:45:00 AM

The following case study highlights the efforts of one Ameren Illinois customer, showcasing the available implementation incentives for energy efficiency measures with a payback period of one year or less. Ameren Illinois is an energy efficiency partner of IMEC.

By all accounts, the folks at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Illinois, run a tight ship. So, they were understandably skeptical when Sitton Energy Solutions, an independent energy management and consulting firm, proposed a retro commissioning survey of the 307-bed facility.

“We were tentative at first — it seemed like spending dollars in the hopes of saving dollars,” says Jerry Melching, Project Specialist for Blessing Hospital. “And we had already taken care of the low-hanging fruit.”

That skepticism did not deter Erik Merker, Director of Energy Services at Sitton Energy Solutions.

“We hear that all the time — that ‘there are no opportunities here’ — but why not have an expert validate that when the initial survey doesn’t cost the owner anything?” he says. “There are golden opportunities in retro commissioning — and Ameren Illinois incentivizes it very well.”

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The Bottom Line on Plant Layout: Efficient flow of goods can save you money

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Mar 19, 2018 12:45:18 PM

Imagine this scenario: Altimax Manufacturer, founded 20 years ago, operates out of rented warehouse space in a large industrial complex.  The warehouse is a metal building and has had three additions, all of different size, shape and roof height over the past 15 years.  Business is good and Altimax expands, hiring more people, renting additional space, adding new products, and using new technologies.  Rather than reorganizing space to incorporate each new operational segment, however, the plant layout has evolved irrationally as the company has grown.  Top management realizes it's got a problem, but the cost of removing walls, cleaning up old stock and moving equipment inhibits the adoption of a more rational plant layout.  Sound familiar?

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Next time you want to identify waste on your shop floor, visit an art museum

Posted by Mary Hallock on Jan 8, 2018 11:14:57 AM

Written by Mary Hallock, IMEC Technical Specialist

In lean we talk about “seeing the waste” and using visual tools. Many of us that use these terms  have had a lot of training in engineering, manufacturing and other highly technical areas. However, the skills needed to “see” problems may lie more firmly in the study of art.

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Deadline Approaching: OSHA Injury and Illness Reporting

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Nov 20, 2017 9:54:22 AM

Written by Mary Hallock, IMEC Technical Specialist and OSHA Authorized Trainer

UPDATE (12/1/17) – OSHA has extended the deadline to December 15 for electronic reporting of injuries and illnesses.

ATTENTION: The OSHA electronic reporting of injury and illness records has gone into effect!

Certain employers are required to submit information from their completed 2016 Form 300A electronically from July 1, 2017 to December 1, 2017. Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. Most manufacturers fall into those certain industries.

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Avoiding Disruption Through Change

Posted by Marketing Support on Nov 17, 2017 11:00:07 AM

Written by Andrea Olson, MSC and CEO of Prag’madik

We all know change is inevitable. There's also been a lot of talk, especially in the manufacturing sector, about impending disruptions, or creating disruption to transform the industry. No one wants to be disrupted, or caught off guard when something new comes along and upends your business. You can't predict the future, but you can protect your organization from disruption through change.

What do we mean by change? Change doesn't have to be massive. Change can be small. Incremental. Change is the basis for which every successful business operates. Finding new ways to do things simpler, faster, and easier. Identifying and acting upon new customer and market needs. Modernizing the way you do business. Staying open to new ideas.

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It's Not Their Fault - People vs. Processes

Posted by Scott Czysz on Nov 16, 2017 2:48:51 PM

Over the last couple months, I've observed a recurring theme with a few of the companies I am working with: a frustration with "them" (co-workers, factory workers, etc.) not doing what they are supposed to be doing.  As I dig deeper, I have found the problem lies within:

  • Poorly designed (or never designed) processes,
  • Poor or no process documentation,
  • Poor or no training for the people that are doing the process every day, and, not surprisingly,
  • Poor results.
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Project Management Expert joins IMEC Team of Technical Specialists

Posted by Amy Fitzgerald on Oct 23, 2017 10:18:53 AM

Antuanet Sanchez has joined the IMEC team bringing a strong background in project management and customer service skills to Illinois organizations. As a Technical Specialist with more than 15 years of experience working in a Fortune 500 project management office, Antuanet has a passion for continuous improvement and prides herself on leading cross-functional and remote teams.

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