Lean Manufacturing Training

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Lean Manufacturing is being implemented in thousands of corporations today. Although the discipline has been in existence for over two decades, only the largest corporations have any long term use of the tools.

In fact, many corporations have only begun to implement lean manufacturing. These companies are hoping to achieve the same success written about on the internet and reported in the publications their industry publications.

These same executives have no doubt heard the horror stories of failed implementations of lean manufacturing. Their fear is wasting money and time on another “program of the year".

The key to success is the correct training for the right people. The good news is the amount of training programs available from which to choose. The potentially critical mistake is choosing the wrong course which may lead the corporation down a long and expensive path of wasted money and time.

Lean manufacturing is not just a collection of “tools" like the normal tool box in your garage. At the home, some jobs require a hammer while others take a wrench. Most lean tools work together, so they must be mastered to determine how the interaction works to solve the business challenges.

For example, a kaizen event utilized to solve a SMED (single minute exchange of die) issue might require the use of the value stream map to determine bottleneck priorities. Alternatively, an OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) kaizen event often requires knowledge of takt time and TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) to obtain maximum improvement.

In addition to all of the technical necessities, there is the soft side of gaining “buy in" and empowering experienced workers to change their thinking and habits.

This is not easy, especially when these workers have done a good job the same way for many years.

Companies that try and fit tools to their problems are doomed to fail. Employee will develop morale problems and begin to distrust management. The distraction often takes years to overcome, and the worst part is the bad name lean manufacturing gets in the process.

Companies that train a critical mass of individuals, hire several lean manufacturing experts, and commit the resources to change the culture in a positive manner are the ones written about. They know lean manufacturing works. They may go down a short “wrong" path occasionally, but find their way to the destination, which is a corporation operating in a state of lean with ongoing continuous improvement.

There are many good training courses. However, lean is best applied using the PDCA model. The model, by definition (Plan-Do-Check-Act), requires flexibility. This is best taught by an instructor that has years of experience with lean manufacturing implementations. It is best taught by someone that has seen failure as well as success.

Once the individuals have been trained in the basic lean manufacturing principles, it is important to have a collection of materials for continuous reference and training. There are many good books written about lean. Look beyond the top sellers, as many lean experts have written good books that are not marketed well.

It is also important to “see" a successful lean implementation. Visit other facilities to see their success and ask your own questions that may be relevant. Most companies welcome the chance to show off their success, especially to a local company in another industry.

Some companies hire a consultant to help lean their lean journey. You can easily find as many success as failure stories. Hiring a consultant for implementation requires the same investigation as finding a trainer. Again, asking other local companies is a great way of finding good consultants.

When visiting a company, be sure to ask questions of those individuals that weren’t responsible for the lean implementation. You’ll get unbiased opinions from various perceptions. The person responsible for the implementation would find it difficult to admit financial mistakes in training, implementation, and hiring.

The lean journey never ends. However, taking the straightest path to the lean state will minimize expense and avoid distraction. The state of lean often brings huge corporate success in the way of additional business, products, profit, and job security.


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