Manufacture Smarter Blog

LEAN: Learn, Educate And Network

7/20/2018 By: Betsy Williams At Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) in Traverse City, the tradition of sharing and learning from others on a lean journey launched the Northern Michigan Lean Learning Consortium (LLC) 10 years ago. Two years later, the Michigan Lean Consortium (MLC) was founded by a group of nine forward-thinking individuals who firmly believed that if every Michigan organization used lean principles, the state's economy would rebound. Richard Wolin, director of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center’s Northern Lower office, was a part of the group that spearheaded the formation of this organization for lean learners, with members’ skills stretching from novice to advanced.


Is Lean Six Sigma Right for You?

5/18/2018 By: Anna Stefos A few weeks ago, The Center’s Brian Mamo wrote about great food pairings as a way to define the combination of “sales” and “marketing” into “smarketing.” An equally dynamic pairing provides manufacturers with valuable tools for reducing waste and improving quality as well as efficiency: Lean and Six Sigma. What Does “Lean” Mean? Coming from the Toyota Production System in Japan in the 1990s, the Lean methodology aims to eliminate anything that does not add value in a given process by targeting variation and defects.


Automation and the Workforce: Addressing the 800-Pound Gorilla in the Room

5/4/2018 By: Chuck Werner Discussions of the Industry 4.0 technologies among small to medium enterprises usually take one of two paths. The first is a politely positive path where everyone ignores the impact these advancements will have on the human workforce. This is what is known as ignoring the “elephant in the room,” where there is an obvious problem at hand, but no one wants to address it. The other is usually approached more fearfully, as if we were crawling into a cage with a seething Silverback.


Struggling to Embrace Lean Culture? Here’s Why.

4/13/2018 By: Mike Beels People don’t like change. Learning new ways of doing things and adopting new technology can be a scary proposition. I often have clients ask, “Why do we need to change, we are already working hard?” or, “We are already profitable, why change?” The unfortunate answer is that you cannot avoid change; everything changes over time. Instead of avoiding change out of fear or stubbornness, you must embrace it if you want to keep improving. Remember when eight-track players were first created, totally revolutionizing the way we listened to music in our cars? What could be better than listening to your favorite music whenever you wanted, instead of waiting for it to come on the radio.


Seeing is Believing with Value Stream Mapping

3/30/2018 By: Roger Tomlinson With all of the moving parts within a manufacturing business (both literal and figurative), it’s easy to lose sight of strategic objectives. What if your management team had a way to actually see all of the goals and processes of your entire organization in one clear visual? Fortunately, value stream mapping provides just such a solution. This Lean method of management comes from the idea that every process, product and service has a value stream – the chain of activities involved in completing a given task.


Anyone Can Satisfy a Customer. But Can You Delight Them?

2/23/2018 By: John Spillson We’ve been conditioned to desire complete and utter satisfaction in everything we receive.  But why should we be content with being only satisfied? Satisfaction is merely accepting the minimum to meet a desired requirement. It would be even better if we could take it up a notch and truly delight our customers, whether they are buying cars, clothing, food, or anything in between. Before we can accomplish this, however, we first need to make sure we have all the right ingredients in place to create a delightful product.


Path to Plant Layout Optimization

9/22/2017 Reconsidering your facility’s layout will enable your business to reduce material handling costs, minimize space requirements, and reduce energy bills. Whether you’re relocating completely or simply re-arranging your current set-up, there are several goals to keep in mind: Improve work flow by becoming more organized Eliminate waste Maximize effectiveness Save time and money Reduce risks To successfully optimize your plant’s layout, both spatial and process-related concepts must be taken into consideration, as well as those ideas that are tied to a human element.


Low Unemployment Means it’s Time to Get LEAN!

9/8/2017 A low unemployment rate is favorable for the economy and the general public. But, what if you’re an employer struggling to find additional staff and resources to produce and deliver a large influx of new orders? How do you fulfill your obligations with a dwindling candidate pool? You get lean! With a lean transformation, you could easily increase your output by as much as 20%. Do you know that 5S is often considered the foundation of implementing a lean program? That’s right. Creating a clean, safe, organized work environment is essential when crafting a lean strategy.