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Why lean manufacturing is no get-rich-quick program - TheFabricator

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Home \ Shop Management \ Shop Strategies \ Articles \ Why lean manufacturing is noget-rich-quick program


Why lean manufacturing is no get-rich-quick program
Part I: Basic principles to help your company get lean
By: Chris Hoff October 10, 2006

Unlike get-rich-quick schemes that promise to double your money in days or weeks, lean manufacturing is an ongoing improvement program that will be in place for as long as your company is in business. Learn the basics of lean inPart I of this two-part series.
Television commercials that advertise get-rich-quick schemes claim you can double your money in days, quadruple it in weeks, or multiply it a hundred times over in months just by purchasing a "proven system." But when you dig into the success stories on those infomercials, you discover hidden fees that never seem to end. In reality, these get-rich-quick-systemproducers make their money on all of those fees. Some companies sell lean manufacturing principles with the same get-rich-quick scheme, by hiding the costs associated with achieving the financial returns that lean manufacturing can provide. Because of this often-used tactic, manufacturers tend to listen to or read information about lean manufacturing with skepticism. The biggest refuter of leanmanufacturing is that many world-class companies are saving costs hand over fist, even though critics refuse to believe in it. The key here is that world-class companies are making the most of lean manufacturing, not companies trying to get rich quickly without counting the cost. Lean manufacturing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme because the system can't and won't work that way. Lean principles must becombined with strategic planning, dedication, and team involvement to achieve success.
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This article was originally published on the October 2006 edition of THE FABRICATOR

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Large companies have experienced significant improvements by using lean principles: U S West Communications saved $20 million in postage expenses in one year; John Deere reduced production lead-time by more than 50 percent in one to two years; and Harley-Davidson recovered enough market share to regain its status asa leading player in its industry after suffering through the 1980s. But small job shops can realize savings too, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Its survey found that both small and large companies gained these benefits by using lean manufacturing: • • • • • A 78 percent improvement in use of space A 90 percent improvement in quality An 85 percentimprovement in work-in-process inventory A productivity increase of 50 percent A 93 percent reduction in lead-time

Defining Lean
Lean manufacturing can boil down to a simple analogy. Assessing an individual from a health standpoint means you have two options: that person either is overnourished or malnourished. The overnourished person consumes more than he needs for his body to function on a dailybasis, resulting in bad health. On the flipside, the malnourished person isn't consuming what he needs to be healthy on a daily basis. The end result is the same: bad health. While both situations lead to the same general problem, this problem is caused by different conditions. Manufacturing operations can be equated to personal health, because lean means consuming only what is needed, when it's...
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