The journey to LEAN manufacturing started back in 2005 for Ehmke Manufacturing Co. Inc., and Ehmke CEO Bob Rosania says it transformed the company more significantly than he ever imagined. LEAN is a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste through continuous improvements in systems and processes. The LEAN model started in Japan with Toyota back in the 1960s, and the basic idea is to minimize or limit non-value-added activities between processes, such as waiting for the next step in a production line while some other part of the project gets ready, something Rosania calls “buckets of wasted time” that a customer doesn’t want to pay for.
“This isn’t lightning bolt stuff,” he says. “It’s reorganizing the tool area, painting the floor and rethinking processes to improve the one-piece flow.”
In his 2018 Expo presentation about LEAN manufacturing, he gave a variety of examples of waste including:
—Redundant quality inspections
—Excess forms and supplies
—Downtime with computer processes
—Top-down management processes that keep line workers waiting for decisions
Rosania says LEAN manufacturing radically improved his company’s bottom line profits, reduced inventory and reduced defective material by 90 percent. He encouraged session participants to consider LEAN for their own companies.