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Advent of One-Piece Flow In Machining Operations

Everyone will agree that Henry Ford developed the automobile assembly line. Back in Ford’s day, there were two ways to assembly automobiles. One way was to keep cars stationary while moving the assembly workers around; the other was to keep the assembly workers stationary while shuttling the vehicles around. Realizing how bulky and heavy automobiles were, Ford initially thought it better to...

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Automation With A Human Touch

One of the two pillars of the Toyota Production System is autonomation, meaning automation with a human touch. The concept originated in the early 1900s when Sakichi Toyoda invented a textile loom that stopped automatically when a thread broke. Previously, if a line broke, the loom would make mounds of defective fabric, so each machine needed to be watched by an operator. Toyoda’s...

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What Customers Really Want And How You Can Give It To Them

All customers want the same thing when it comes to purchasing a product or service.  They want one that performs the tasks they need to be done works when it is supposed to, and costs as little as possible.  They want the product or service now and do not wish to wait.  They want their questions answered promptly and correctly.  They don’t really care about guarantees or warranties;...

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Lean Helps Organizations Break Bad Habits

I recently read an article about a company that made a considerable improvement in productivity by simply staggering their lunch breaks. Before the change, everyone went to lunch at the same time. The plant made an item that had a printed dial of some kind. The printing process required two machines. When lunchtime came, the ink had to be removed and cleaned, or it would dry out. When the...

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An Important Lesson Learned

Over the years, I’ve dealt with many organizations that were “interested” in implementing lean. A few were looking for a complete lean transformation. Others wanted to solve particular problems related to reducing change overtimes, improving flow, or eliminating quality issues. Several of these organizations made substantial progress and continue their lean efforts using kaizen...

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