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Lean Manufacturing Implementation

The Lean Manufacturing Handbook

Part 5

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

Intro | Previous

Do we need outside help to get Lean Manufacturing?

Once the decision to go Lean is made, companies often employ a Sensei, which is a Japanese term for teacher. The best way to find a competent Sensei is to get a referral from a company in your area that has successfully implemented Lean.

Some companies do not like to hire outside consultants or trainers, but prefer to train their own staff or hire an experienced Lean Professional to hold the role of Sensei. Continental offers both training and technical staffing to help companies in these endeavors.

After we understand Lean Manufacturing and have lined up some help to go Lean, what is our next step?

To make such a major change in your operation, there must be a motivating factor such as a threat of lost business or cost pressure. This motivating factor is called a crisis. An example of a crisis would be a demand for a 3% price decrease from your customer that would make you unprofitable. Another crisis would be threat of losing the business to a foreign competitor.

A crisis motivates you and your staff to rethink the business and creates a situation that demands change. Without a crisis, things normally run as they always have, and change is looked upon as a bad thing. If there is no immediate crisis then you must "create" a crisis.

How do I "create" a crisis?

There are many ways to do this. Example #1: Benchmark your competition. By doing this you will surely find areas in which they perform better than you. Use Lean to leapfrog your competition. Example #2: Identify a new customer that you would like to acquire, but has higher demands than your current customers. A customer that is currently using Lean Manufacturing principals would be a good target for this. Use this created crisis as the impetus for the implementation of Lean in your plant.

Once we have identified or created a crisis, what is next?

Next, you need to map your Value Stream as defined previously. Some companies start by Value Stream Mapping the entire plant. Others pick one manufacturing line and map that. Whichever one you do, it is vital to not skip this step.

If you have mapped the whole plant you now need to pick what looks to be the most fruitful area for change and get started. For example, if you made 6 different parts in your plant and part #3 has extremely high scrap, then you know you would make a major impact by starting there with Lean. The Value Stream Map will point you to the highest area of MUDA (waste), which is the ideal area to begin Lean implementation.

To summarize the five-step process to becoming Lean, which are fully outlined and detailed in the book Lean Thinking are:

  1. Find a Change Agent
  2. Find a Sensei
  3. Seize (or create) a crisis
  4. Map the entire Value System
  5. Pick something important and get started

Is There "Certification" Associated with Lean Manufacturing?

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has established SAE J4000 in which they will train, test and certify individuals as first and second party assessors.

The purpose of J4000 survey is to establish an objective benchmark of one's current state in pursuit of Lean Operations.

The content strategically isolates areas of business into (6) six categories:

  1. Planning & policy
  2. Training
  3. Supplier
  4. Finances
  5. Management
  6. Quality

It will identify strengths/weaknesses within the value stream of company operations, as well as provide a positive tool for comparison & contrast between supplier and customer. It will also help to open areas of communication, meanwhile establishing action items, target dates and individual responsibilities. The ultimate goal is continuous improvement involving all areas of business.

SAE J4000 is on its way to becoming to Lean Manufacturing what QS-9000 and ISO9000 has become to quality.

To become certified as an assessor, one must attend a four day training session. Two days are spent on management application track and two days on a operation application track. After successfully completing the seminar and passing the required test, the individual will be a certified assessor. Continental Design & Engineering provides certified assessors for their clients.

For more information contact:

Performance Review Institute (an affiliate of SAE)
161 Thornhill Road
Warrendale, PA 15086
Phone 724-772-1616
Fax: 724-772-1699

    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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