Category: Lean Enterprise

E-Commerce is No Longer an Option

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Are you offering e-commerce options for your customers? If not, you’ll be left in the dust! It is no longer an option for companies if success is an objective. E-commerce eliminates time and distance as barriers – who can afford not to offer customers a way to get “what they want when they want it”? Better yet, it is often at better margins to boot! For example, according to Modern Distribution Management’s 2013 State of E-commerce in Distribution, the number of distributors whose e-commerce revenue comprises 5-10% of total revenue has grown by 50% since last year. Substantial! E-commerce has…
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Motivate Employees as One Critical Way to Retain Top Performers

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A motivated employee can move mountains. A disgruntled employee creates havoc. Which do you have? As results are critical to success, I thought it was worth pursuing how to motivate employees; however, as important as results are, retaining top talent in today’s marketplace will put you on top. 1. Let’s start with a “not” – money. Although the lack of fair compensation is a de-motivator, money itself is rarely a motivator. 2. Instead, explain each person’s value – how does each person contribute to the company vision, goals and priorities? Yes, it takes time to translate each person’s value but it will achieve immeasurable…
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Lean: Uncommon Common Sense

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I have always been a process consultant, typically focusing on those processes which are the most relevant to making rapid improvement with the specific manufacturer or distributor I am partnering with.  Yet, I find that processes alone are useless as they have to be married up with the “right” people, the “right” systems and aligned with the strategy.  However, people rarely come to me to find the “right” process improvement initiatives for company success; instead, they ask about “quick fixes” and sometimes Kaizen or lean events. My answer is always, “Why?”  If the requestor thinks a lean event will deliver…
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How To Improve Productivity

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Seven Skills of a Highly Productive Workforce By Doug Howardell Customers in the global economy are more demanding than ever before. They can be; there is more competition than ever before. Customers take it for granted that you will deliver a low cost and high quality product or service. Now on top of that, they demand it faster and customized to their individual needs. To be a survivor in the marketplace today you must produce world class quality products and services, designed to meet the specific customer’s needs, deliver them quickly anywhere in the world and at a competitive price.…
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Hoshin Kanri

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Most companies that I have worked at lack a centralized company-wide Quality Assurance, metrics and delivery strategy. They simply seem to be going through the motions, sometimes very destructive motions based on one or two individuals “running the show.” This can be a very dangerous long-term proposition. With this in mind then, we introduce the concept of Hoshin Kanri, or Policy Deployment. Hoshin Kanri is a company-wide quality system that creates constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service and adapting a philosophy that does not tolerate lack of quality, defects, antiquated training methods, (or management’s styles). Hoshin helps…
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6-S A System for Quality, Productivity, Housekeeping and Workplace Organization

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Does your place of work have materials and WIP all over the place, are tools constantly missing? Are their stacks of unread magazines or financial statements in boxes on the floor? Does everybody put things wherever they want to? If this sounds like your place of work, then the 6-S system is a way to get in control and stay in control of workplace housekeeping and organization. The 6-S System increases workplace efficiency and employee productivity by involving everyone in the improvement process. At the heart of 6-S is controlling and creating strict standards in order to control and improve…
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Don’t Reduce Excess Inventory, Avoid Creating It

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Many articles have been written over the years on how to reduce excess inventory. I want to tell you how to avoid creating excess inventory in the first place. Excess inventory is to be avoided for several reasons. First, it takes cash to buy or build inventory. Many companies borrow to support their short-term cash needs. When you borrow, you pay interest. Every dollar paid in interest comes right off the bottom line. Second, excess inventory takes up space. You may have to rent space to store the excess materials you are carrying. Third, you typically have to count your…
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“Leaning Out” Hispanic Employees to Improve Productivity and Quality

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I enjoy working with multicultural workforces. I am fully bi-lingual, and bi-cultural, so this skill really comes in handy in relating to today’s very heavily Hispanic workforce in the manufacturing environment. What I often find is that these compadres have so much to offer, but their intellectual capital is very rarely fully utilized by management. Many times management thinks that because a Hispanic employee may have very little formal education or may even be functionally illiterate (cannot read nor write in their mother language) that they cannot get more involved to view themselves and participate as stakeholders in the organization.…
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Getting Lean to Maximize Factory Resources

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Part 2 – Make to Order In this article, Part 2 of 2 parts, we will show you how to use Lean methods to produce more bottom line results with another carefully selected single change. If you missed it, please read part 1 first. Lean manufacturing is all about continuous improvement. In Part 1, we implemented a single change (reduction in transfer batch size) which yielded a $0.5 million reduction in WIP, along with a reduction in plant floor area. Now the astute Plant Manager and CFO are asking: “Are there any other potential savings?” In fact, the big savings…
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Getting Lean to Maximize Factory Resources

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Part 1 – Small Quantities More Often In this article, Part 1 of 2 parts, we will show you how to use Lean methods to produce bottom line results with a carefully selected single change. In manufacturing, batch size affects everything including: manufacturing lead time, cash flow, plant floor space needs, inventory costs, amount of working capital and capital investment. By focusing [see article called: Maximizing Plant Management Success] on reducing batch size and balancing flow (aka Getting Lean), a company can improve productivity, improve cash flow, reduce plant floor space, and free up cash that is tied up in…
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