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John J. Civerolo

Every manufacturing company in the world wants to be:

¨      Lean

¨      Fast and quick

¨      Flexible and agile

¨      Simple versus complex

¨      Cost effective

Great idea? You bet! Can major benefits be achieved through Lean Manufacturing? Absolutely!

But is it:

Easy to do?

Quickly implemented?

Something someone can do for you?

The answer to all three questions is – No!

Lean Manufacturing produces outstanding results, once it is implemented and being executed at a high level of proficiency. But, the big problem is that most companies do not spend the necessary time and allocate the proper resources to implement the operational prerequisites to ensure success.

The following is a simple set of questions to help your company determine if you are ready for Lean Manufacturing:

1.            Has a Gap Analysis been performed to determine how your manufacturing process compares to the Best of the Best?

2.            Has a clear set of Lean Manufacturing objectives been established for:

  • Reduction of WIP inventory?

  •   Reduction of lead time?

  • Reduction of overtime?

  •   Reduction of non-value-adding activities and costs?

  • Reduction of scrap/rework?

  • Reduction of unscheduled downtime?

  • Implementation of visual controls?

  • Improvement of productivity?

  • Reduction to manufacturing costs?

  • Reduction of long setup/changeovers?

  • Reduction to overloaded and under loaded work centers?

  • Implementation of a proactive maintenance program?

3.            Have Executive Management and key Operating personnel been educated in the Lean Manufacturing concepts, principles, and techniques?

4.            Are materials (raw, packaging, components, semi-finished, bulk, blends, intermediates, pre-mix, subassemblies & tooling) and capacity (people & equipment) “worry free”?

5.            Is there a strong focus on improving safety, housekeeping, and ergonomics?

6.            Has a formal crosstraining program been established? Are people flexible? Can they move to an upstream or downstream operationwithout impacting:

¨           Cost?

¨           Quality?

¨           Customer service?

¨           On time delivery?

¨           Productivity?

7.            Are actions in place to reduce lead time by a minimum of 50%?

8.            Is a goal in place to increase work-in-process inventory spins 80 to 100 times a year?

9.            Are actions in place to reduce paperwork and transactions by 75%?

10.       Are actions in place to use visual controls and visual performance measurements to manage production on a daily basis?

11.       Are problem solving tools in place and being used by the process owners?

If you answered “Yes” to all of the above questions, you are not only ready, but have already started to achieve the results of Lean Manufacturing using Visual Factory concepts.

If your answer was “No” to any of the above questions, more effort and actions will be required to achieve all the expected benefits of Lean Manufacturing.

Following are the ratings for “No” answers:

1 – 2 No answers:    

Have made significant progress and achieved good results, but still need work to be the Best of the Best


3 – 4 No answers:    

Lean Manufacturing implemented, but complete success not achieved


5 – 6 No answers:              

Started, but a lot of work is required


7 – 11 No answers:              

Lean Manufacturing is out of control – help is needed

In your company, is there any confusion on Lean Manufacturing about:

¨      What to do?

¨      Where to start?

¨      Who should be involved?

¨      What education and training will be required?

¨      How to ensure the key prerequisites are in place?

Partners for Excellence has the methodology, implementation process, and education tools necessary to help your company get started with Lean Manufacturing. Don’t wait to get started on the Lean Manufacturing path.

If you desire a more detailed list of Lean Manufacturing questions to assess your current status, please contact Don Rice at 615 221-2196.