Process Improvement Blog

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

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Eliminating Waste – After the Product Leaves the Factory

February 21, 2013

Some mergers are about synergy and vertical integration, while others are to consolidate dying, wasteful business models and prolong the inevitable demise of the companies doing the merging. The potential merger of Office Depot and Office Max is about the latter. The crumbling of retail brick and mortar continues for the simple reason that it adds cost, but not value.

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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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The Death of Core Competence Thinking

February 07, 2013

C. K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel wrote The Core Competence of the Corporation in the Harvard Business Review back in 1990 and it has been the rationale for outsourcing ever since. The logic behind it is the antithesis of lean thinking, and based 100% on a functional silo mentality. Twenty year old anti-lean thinking doesn’t die easily, but dying is exactly what the theory of core competence is...

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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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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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Long Lead Times: The Root of All Evil

January 17, 2013

I came across this white paper of sorts from an outfit called ARC describing something they call "reverse logistics". The complexity of the logistics process they describe is mind-numbing and I imagine a thing of beauty to the brilliant folks manning corporate bureaucracies. The flow chart outlining what it takes to repair some defective thing or another sold to a customer alone is overwhelming,...

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Silly Lady! Long Lead Times are for Losers

December 14, 2012

Interesting article on the Wall Street Journal's site about the challenges facing Marie Robinson - the Toys R Us head of their supply chain.  In a growing on line selling world the big issue is the role of stores versus the role of distribution centers.  The conundrum- as defined by the retailers - is that the inventory is best kept in the stores in case walk in customers want it, but...

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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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You Don't Set the Rules

August 30, 2012

Kevin's post the other day reminded me of a lesson from a wise mentor a long time ago in my supply chain days (while I started in accounting and ended as an operations exec supply chain is what I did for a living for most of the time in between ... and it was in supply chain that I first learned lean).  That is, payment terms, lead times and quality policies are not up to you - the end customer...

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The Government Gets One Right

June 12, 2012

Twenty four years ago I took on my first kaizen event at a Copeland plant in North Carolina.  We didn't know it was to be called a 'kaizen event' and had no way of knowing that we were using what would be called a 'value stream map'.  We were just making it up as we went along using Shingo's original green book as a guide.  The target of our efforts was a machining and sub-assembly process that...

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