Process Improvement Blog


Looking for ways for your organization to increase productivity and trim budgets? You’ve come to the right place.

DocuPhase’s “Business Process Automation” blog will provide valuable insight into how your company can benefit from implementing document management and workflow automation into existing processes.

Good Explanation of 3D Printing

February 23, 2013

It's worth suffering the rough the beginning slides to get to The Motley Fool's video explaining 3D printing and the impact it will have on some aspects of manufacturing. Their 'End of Made-In-China' is a bit of an overstatement, but the near term potential for anything made in one-off fashion - tooling and mold making especially come to mind, as well as expensive, precision low volume parts - is...

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Give Consultants and Senseis The Heave Ho

February 20, 2013

Patrick Anderson, a devoted lean guy and all around mover and shaker in Alaska – particularly in health care and areas of interest to the native folks – wrote an interesting piece in the Lean in Alaska blog a few days ago. It is simply called “Six Sigma”.

Anderson contrasts belted Six Sigma experts and their project culture with lean leadership. The big insight I took from it is his point, “A...

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Over-Reliance on Technology

February 19, 2013

One of the major news sites reported yesterday on the cause of the fire that crippled the cruise ship off the coast of Mexico, speculating that a fuel leak came in contact with a “pile-on” light. I’m sure they meant a pilot light. Perhaps it was the result of a reporter who mis-heard an expert, and was too dumb to know that there is no such thing as a ‘pile-on’ light, but I suspect it was caused...

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A Tale of Two Workforces

February 11, 2013

This article from The Utica Observer Dispatch rehashes the often heard mantra about the lack of trained folks to fill manufacturing jobs.

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You Can't Ignore Tooling

January 31, 2013

Strikingly absent in manufacturing management advice and literature is an acknowledgement of the huge importance of tooling. I suspect that is because the economics of tooling don’t fit the theories; r maybe it is because most of the experts aren’t engineers and they simply don’t want to address the complicated realities of tooling. The fact is, however, that molding tools and stamping dies are...

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The Foghorn Leghorn Principle of Design

January 29, 2013

There are lots of statistical principles that apply to manufacturing but I can think of none more powerful and directly on point than the words of that font of wisdom, Foghorn Leghorn, when he said, “Two half nuthins are a whole nuthin. That’s mathematics, son. You can argue with me but you can’t argue with figures.”

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It Doesn’t Have to Be That Difficult

January 25, 2013

An article in The Manufacturer – a rather pedestrian article for that matter - describes the traditional thinking management choices in a tough economy. Titled “Cost Cutting is Top of Company Agendas in 2013” it asserts that “82% of manufacturing CEOs will implement cost cutting this year”. Said the ‘expert’ they quoted, “We know that implementing or continuing cost-cutting initiatives...

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The Essential Manufacturing Leadership Reading List

January 23, 2013

If you bounce onto the pages on Accounting & Finance, Culture & Leadership, Execution Tools, Strategy and Supply Chain you will find a couple of books listed on each page that collectively make up the essential manufacturing management reading list. These are the books that, in my not nearly humble enough opinion, make up the basics everyone should have read if they are serious about their...

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Question of the Week: How stable do processes have to be to use lean tools?

January 20, 2013
Dear Bill,

In the Toyota Way Fieldbook, getting to Basic Stability is described as one of the first steps in a Lean initiative. Given that you will begin with a process that is likely unstable, the first order of business is to get that process to reach a consistent level of capability (low variation, high quality, etc…). Attempting to implement Flow and Pull elements into an unstable process...

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Losing Before the Game Even Begins

January 10, 2013

All over the country - all over the world, for that matter - managers are confronting year end surprises from annual inventory counts.; Strenuous efforts to reach profit goals have been undone by inventory write-offs they never saw coming. Too late to do anything about it at this point, they resolve to take steps to assure it doesn't happen again. How the problem is defined is the key to the...

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So Many Lessons, So Little Time

December 06, 2012

The New York Times has run a series of stories written by a guy who runs a woodworking company in the Philadelphia area in which the author/ business owner shares his insights and lessons learned.  The latest post is here, in which we learn about the high cost of training.  Go ahead and click on a the links to some of his other pieces and get a feel for this guy's business. I actually read...

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Executives to the Rescue

November 29, 2012

Once there was a manufacturing executive who was concerned about the inaccurate financial information he was getting, so he moved his desk up to the accounting department so he could figure out what was going on.  Soon he found out that about 80% of the way through month end close the accountants calculators' batteries were dying so any numbers bigger than they could count on their fingers and...

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Random Notes

November 27, 2012

An interesting article over at Industry Week:

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Lean and Technology

October 25, 2012

I was interviewed yesterday by Industry Week on the ever lively topic of lean thinking versus technology. ... it seems this subject keeps churning so I thought I'd try to clear it up a bit.

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Mathematical Fiction

October 17, 2012

Normally I would agree with someone who observes that criticizing without offering an alternative is just cynicism and not very helpful. Such an observation was implied to my recent post on the absurdity of the unemployment figures:  "What alternate means of determining the actual employment figure would someone  suggest?"  In fact, there are cases in which that which the mistake being criticized...

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Ford Gets It - Do You?

August 07, 2012

Just to put things in perspective - after all it is easy to get tangled up in all of the short term ups and downs and spin regarding the auto business - I thought it might be helpful to look at where the auto companies are compared to 2007 - the last year before the recession hit.

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The Big Picture

May 14, 2012

Here's the way I see lean:

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'Lean' and 'Good' Are Not Synonyms

March 29, 2012

Lean is a subset of profit improvement.  Everything about lean will enhance profits, but there are a lot of profit enhancing ideas and strategies that have nothing to do with lean.  I just thought I would point that out for the benefit of all of the folks out there who want to put every good idea under the lean umbrella.

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Book Stuff

March 26, 2012

A couple of comments and thoughts on a couple of books ...

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My Secret Weapon

March 08, 2012

Despite the stacks of books in my office, living room and bedroom, I am not a hoarder.  I get books from every direction - some I buy, many are gifts, dozens are review requests, and I give the good ones away all the time.  There are some I have bought half a dozen times - and given away as many times.  One I have kept for almost 30 years, though, and will never part with is my copy of...

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Why Idiots Should Not Have Access to Printing Presses

February 16, 2012

You can't really blame Baltimore Sun writer Julie Bykowicz for writing nonsense - after all she's a journalist and, by definition an expert at nothing except the high art of avoiding ending sentences with prepositions and the like.  And you can't blame the San Francisco Chronicle for publishing her story - after all it was critical of Newt Gingrich and the knee-jerk lefties at the Chronicle are...

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