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Lean Manufacturing Implementation

The Lean Manufacturing Handbook

Part 4

The Lean Manufacturing Handbook
by Tom Epply
Assisted by Judy Nagengast
Second Edition

Intro | Previous

Once I have a plan for Lean Manufacturing, how do I implement it?

Once you have completed the future state of your VSM on paper, you need to see your plan in the physical universe. Just as manufacturers make full size mock-ups of their newly designed product before it is put into production, you need to make a mock-up of your newly designed Lean Cell. This is commonly done with inexpensive materials such as Styrofoam sheets, PVC pipe and chicken wire. It's not pretty, but it gets the job done.

Building a life-size, 3-D model of your Lean cell allows you to see improvements you would never see on paper. You can easily make changes before you build or buy expensive equipment.

An additional benefit of your 3-D Styrofoam mock-up is that the actual operators can have input in the design of the cell. They will make many suggestions that will improve the operation and the implementation of the cell always goes better if the operators have input and ownership of its creation. For many reasons, it is well worth the time to build 3-D mock-ups of your Lean cell.

Who should build the 3-D mock-ups?

Some companies have their staff engineers build the mock-ups. Other companies have their design houses build them. At Continental, we often build the mock-ups for our customers using experienced Lean designers and engineers working side by side with our customer's engineering staff and plant operators.

How do I get started in Lean Manufacturing?

First you need to educate yourself in Lean Manufacturing. You have started by reading this booklet. Now you need to read Lean Thinking by James Womack and Dan Jones. Some companies make this required reading for all of their technical and management staff.

Once you start implementing Lean in your company there are two books that you will need as textbooks:

Learning to See
By Mike Rother & John Shook
Lean Enterprise Institute 1999

5S For Operators
Adapted from Hiroyuki Hirano
Productivity Press 1996

Lean Manufacturing Workshop

Continental Design & Engineering offers a 21/2 day hands-on workshop in your facility where we provide basic training on Lean while at the same time applying these principles to one of your operations. This includes Value Stream Mapping of the operation. The result is that you and your staff will understand the basics of Lean and have a well worked out plan to apply these principles to one of your manufacturing lines.

You may also want to attend Lean conferences or training held by the Lean Enterprise Institute or the Society of Automotive Engineers (see You can also start an organization of manufacturers in your area to share ideas and information. In Indiana, we have started the Midwest Lean Alliance for this purpose. This Alliance meets three or four times a year at a member's facility. For more information see the address in the addendum.

We also highly recommend that you visit Toyota in Georgetown, KY for their one day tour and seminar.

Once I understand Lean Manufacturing, how do I get the ball rolling?

In some companies the thrust to go Lean comes from the top of the organization. This is usually the most successful. However, we have worked with several companies that have implemented Lean from the production floor. This works well in companies that give a great deal of authority and autonomy to their production supervisors.

The person who decides to implement Lean and is the major force in its execution is called the Change Agent. The Change Agent is key to getting Lean implemented since the normal course of action is to continue what has always been done in the past. The Change Agent must go beyond the normal and usual to effect the dramatic shift in operations that Lean requires. However, once others see the equally dramatic results of Lean, they get on the bandwagon and the whole Lean conversion becomes much easier.

Will you be the Change Agent?

    Lean Manufacturing Handbook Menu
  1. The Lean Manufacturing Handbook
  2. What does "Just-In-Time" mean?
  3. How was Lean Manufacturing Developed?
  4. How do I implement Lean Manufacturing?
  5. Do we need outside help to get Lean Manufacturing?
  6. Tell me more about the Lean Implementation Workshop you offer
  7. About the Author - Tom Epply

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