those considering lean to visit other lean
operations. “Visit a plant that is already
well down the line. I had the benefit of
that. I persuaded Fleetwood to let me
visit Lantech Engineering. You could see
how well everything worked,” he says.
“Many of the consultants I’ve dealt
with start and end with 5S,” he says.
“It’s easy to get discouraged. But if you
see the entire comprehensive thing
that brings in several years of continu-
ous improvement, then you know what
you want it to look like at the end.”
Naturally, Spencer says the biggest
stumbling block to avoid is not getting
enough support from top management.
“If top management doesn’t get it and
they aren’t deeply involved, you might as
well forget it,” he says. “Top management
has to be on the floor. They have to basically live on the gemba (shop floor). Top
management is usually more interested
in sales dollars and rarely grasp the strategic importance. Think of a company
that can fabricate and ship in one or two
days in an industry where everyone else
takes one to two weeks.” ❮
+ Want more?
Two experts mentioned in this
article are available to consult on
lean transformations. Columns
by them are available at www.
CabinetMakerFDM.com or contact
Jim Lewis: 616-295-8077;
Gero Sassenberg: 704-907-9891;
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Now more than ever, it is critical to know your costs,
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The Gold Mine, by Freddy and
Michael Balle. A novelized depiction of a lean turnaround. Lean
Thinking, by James Womack and
Daniel Jones. The book that really
popularized the term “lean manufacturing.” Many consider this the
fundamental text on the subject.
Story of a Lean Jour-
ney, by Jim Lewis.
This book chron-
icles the journey
of one company
through the lean
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