Lean Thinking, Lean Manufacturing – 5 S

In manufacturing and other skilled trades today, in the United States, good help is hard to find. These businesses have restructured themselves over the last 20 years. With more and more manufacturing being taken overseas, less and less young people are getting into manufacturing/skilled trades. It doesn’t seem to be glamorous enough for the new generation, especially if stardom becomes the new ambition. We should be looking at the kids who won’t be superstars and really don’t want to be white collar. Encouraging them to explore these types of careers will help to grow the future workforce. Not much help right now?

You as manager or owner wonder why the quarterly results aren’t what you predicted. Even with a good spin they still suck like a bad dream. So what’s the problem? Motivation? You sent the sales guys to Zig Ziglar last year and that didn’t help. Sales training is not going to help the finance department get with the program. They don’t take any ownership of the results because they merely pulled them from the system.

Nepotism and Fraternization can create as many problems, as waste and some of the other issues. General Motors is an excellent example of the situation with nepotism. If you have several relatives working for you or husband and wife or friends, you are creating an atmosphere of favoritism and are encouraging many different problems. If you have friends who work for you, they may be allowed to go unchecked on bad decisions or errors. You may be tempted to look the other way because they are your friends. Family members working in the same company create a situation for losing two employees vs one, in the case of firing, relocation, and other family related occurrences.

Watch the change in your bottom line, when you change the way you look at your dedicated employees and the way you treat them.You don’t always have to pay top dollar, but you do have to treat people with respect and dignity.

Where is the payback?” The answer lies in the program processes and in the steps taken to sustain all efforts (the fifth S). Management and the 5S team seem to look at 5S as a once and done approach, or something you do on an annual basis when Upper Management visits the plant. The problem in this lies in the level of management’s understanding of soluciones lean, how to properly apply “Total Quality Methods” as well as tools and techniques for assuring quality. Management and the 5S teams take a compartmentalized approach or as I like to call them chimneys (Cylinders filled with hot air and smoke that have no connection to other parts of the organization).

Finding the right software in an ERP comparison is like finding the right spouse. There will be a lot of courting and a lot of flirting, but there are many factors that can affect the relationship. You can think that they are the perfect one for you and yet there is the potential that a few years from now, you will be looking all over again. Carrying the analogy further, if you can find the right one who not only fits your requirements and is committed to not only your short-term happiness, but also is fully committed to making the relationship work, then you will have a successful marriage.

All those skilled employees that you couldn’t find before are out there now. All that equipment that you couldn’t afford is inexpensive right now. All that time you didn’t have for training and implementing those new programs is at hand. The time for making excuses is over. What seems like a death knell to other companies can mean new life for yours. Look at this downturn as a long needed opportunity to improve operations, better your workforce and position yourself for growth. So if you have it, then spend that money and set yourself up for a prosperous future.