I recently came across an article that irritated me. The gist of its message is that once all the “easy stuff” with Lean is taken care of… you know like respecting people, improving quality, and pulling material through the value stream… it’s time to buy some fancy carousels to move all that inventory around! This, they claim, is the next step to being Lean. I almost puked.
The article went wrong from the beginning when they claimed, “Lean manufacturing is the management philosophy of reducing waste in manufactured products or any type of business.”
What about Jidoka? I guess Lean doesn’t care about quality after all. Silly me.
Then we read this mumbo jumbo.
“Lean manufacturing is all about managing your processes with the goal being a measurable return-on-investment for your efforts at implementing change, however simple or sophisticated that change may be,” says Dick Ward, executive vice president, MHIA.
Err, um, OK, whatever you say Dick.
Then the big close, “You can achieve the first steps of lean relatively easily, and then you reach a point where you have to look for the next opportunity. Many times, carousels and VLMs can help you make the most of that opportunity.”
I guess I would like to know what these first easy steps of Lean are. I mean, how will I know when I am ready to buy some horizontal and vertical carousels, and don’t forget about those totally awesome vertical lift modules? I guess I could call Dick and ask him how far down the Lean journey my company is.
Funny thing is I bet I know his response before asking. I reckon I would hear, “This is an amazing Lean system you have here Ron. A true benchmark. I would love to work with you while you take it to the next level of excellence. So, um, can I show you our latest carousel?”