JMOs Key to Leading Lean Manufacturing Efforts

A timely article appeared in the USA Today on Monday, November 2, the first day of the Cameron-Brooks November, 2009 Career Conference.  The article titled “Lean Manufacturing Helps Companies Survive Recession” pointed out that manufacturing facilities that have adopted Lean Manufacturing initiatives have converted from batch processing to uninterrupted flow, and reduced waste and inventories.  This has allowed them to reduce costs and improve quality and profitability.  The current recession forced many companies to make these changes in order to compete in the tough economy as well as better position themselves against manufacturing operations outside the US.

You can read the article at:  http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/manufacturing/2009-11-01-lean-manufacturing-recession_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip&POE=click-refer

 Here are some key points I took away from the article:

– One purpose of Lean is producing what customers order versus stocking inventory.  This reduces inventory thus reducing costs.  “Inventory is evil.”

–  Lean helps companies compete against low cost producers outside of the US.  This has allowed them to continue to hire and retain employees during the recession.

– Lean contributed to a 4.9% increase in manufacturing productivity in the recent quarter.  This was the highest increase since early 2005.

– 61% of manufacturers are using Lean.

– Lean leads to smoother production operations and more teamwork.

– Lean requires continuous improvement and constant vigilance and monitoring.  This is a key reason why companies like the JMO for Lean initiatives.

We had numerous manufacturing and supply chain opportunities represented at our November 2009 Conference utilizing Lean.  These clients identified Cameron-Brooks JMO leaders as critical to successfully launching, improving and sustaining their Lean programs.  Here are some quotes from their job descriptions about Lean responsibilities and you can easily see why the companies wanted talented JMO leaders.

“As a Manufacturing Supervisor, you will play a critical role in driving Lean transformation.  Key tenets of Lean include continuous process improvement in the areas of customer focus, waste elimination, employee involvement and a disciplined approach to operations.  To be successful, you will have to lead and engage the manufacturing team in Lean initiatives such as Kaizen (continuous process improvement).  You will also have the responsibility of developing the skills of your subordinate leaders so that they effectively engage their team members in continuous improvement activities.  This will require you to use your change leadership skills to communicate the vision and the purpose, identify obstacles and work with individuals who may be resistant to change.”

“You will use data analysis, Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and other analytical tools to conceptualize process improvements to yield savings in material costs while reducing cycle times and improving quality and delivery.”

“You will get involved with Lean projects and act as the Lean Deployment Leader.  You will use an involved leadership style to set goals, plan operations and lead the team to achieve objectives.  You will drive innovation and change by communicating key business unit initiatives and promoting employee engagement.”

To learn more about Lean, I highly recommend the book Lean Thinking by Womack.  The introduction and first 5 chapters are especially informative.  You can also research Lean on Wikipedia.

We had a very successful November 2009 Conference and started the follow-up interview process today.  We will publish some posts on our Facebook page and blog with updates soon.

Joel Junker