Go Lean: Lean Manufacturing

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Go Lean: Lean Manufacturing

by Keith Loria, Reporter | March 04, 2009

The company has seen first-pass yield improvement increases of 10-30%. They have also seen inventory reductions of 25-40%, lead time reductions of 50% and on time delivery improvements to 100%.

"We've been able to redeploy eight employees because of the reduction of work content and elimination of waste," O'Brien says. "We've been able to move them to other departments or on other product lines where there has been an increase in demand or we needed the help."

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Fluke Biomedical, which provides test and measurement equipment and services for the health care industry, has employed lean manufacturing principles since its inception in 2002.

"We've enjoyed continued success as a result of an ongoing journey of continuous improvement that provides tangible results for our customers in the form of quality, service and innovation," says Roderick Jones, President of Fluke Biomedical. "In the end, driving customer satisfaction is the fundamental reason we employ lean practices at Fluke Biomedical."

Lean principles have enabled Fluke Biomedical to continuously improve in several areas including: quality, on-time delivery, lead-time reduction, inventory, floor space utilization, and labor productivity

"On the shop floor, through standard work and single piece flow, we have found success in reduced inventory and production lead-times, improved product quality, improved manufacturing flexibility as well as a safer work environment," Jones says. "Although lean techniques are commonly associated with manufacturing, we have also found success utilizing these principles to eliminate waste in back-office processes and customer facing activities. However, arguably the most compelling success has been the culture change to embrace continuous improvement as a way of life. We believe this provides the ability to sustain results and provide continued benefits for our customers."

Downside to Lean

In most manufacturing environments, there's an aspect of trying to protect your position and some people just don't want to change their ways, so the key hurdle in lean manufacturing implementation involves the cultural acceptance.

"The biggest con is how you roll it out and how it's perceived by the organization if people think it's going to negatively impact their jobs," O'Brien says. "It's natural to keep things close to the vest and we needed to make people understand that this was going to make us stronger as an organization and that they would have to relinquish a little bit of control and maybe do things a little bit differently."