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.


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.


A Safe Approach to Buying Used Machinery

11/10/2017 By: Roger Tomlinson Manufacturers couldn’t exist without machinery, and keeping that machinery functioning and up-to-date is essential to productivity and success. While that sounds simple in theory, buying new machinery can be extremely pricey in reality. Fortunately, there is an alternative option that some manufacturers opt for: buying used machinery. Much like buying anything that is used, used machinery is often written off as being too big of a risk. However, used products have proven themselves in the past to be just as good as new products, if you don’t mind the presence of a few dings and scratches.


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.


Process Mapping: Addressing the Elephant in the Room

6/23/2017 By: Chuck Werner When teaching a new group of Continuous Improvement (Lean and/or Six Sigma) students, it’s always critical to emphasize the importance of the first “team” activity of any project or kaizen— the process map. There are many benefits to process mapping. One is its highly visual nature. The ease of comparison between what we THINK happens and what actually does is another. It also helps to focus on what area(s) of the process are contributing to the problem or performance of the process.


QMS True North

11/18/2016 When navigating by map and compass, it is important to be aware of magnetic declination. The magnetic north is not located at the North Pole, so more than likely, your compass is not truly pointing north. You need to adjust your compass reading and account for the difference to find True North. Knowing where true north is can make a big difference in getting to where you want to be. True North in Lean Manufacturing In the world of Lean Manufacturing, True North is also important.  As you start out your lean journey, you will begin with a Value Stream Map of your current state.


Small & Medium Sized Manufacturers: Take Advantage of Process Improvement Programs

10/28/2016 For small businesses in today’s global and technologically advanced market, it is crucial to maintain competitiveness and stay aligned with larger organizations. Generally speaking, small and medium sized manufacturers, those categorized with less than 250 employees, are as much in need of process improvement programs to enhance and develop their business as those of larger firms. In general, smaller organizations lose much more compared to larger firms when practices and operations are not constantly improved on.