'Lean' diet ensures success for manufacturers

By Mississippi State University
For nearly 17 years, John Moore of the Mississippi State University Industrial Outreach Service has immersed himself in developing and training operations managers, engineers and their support staff with the skills needed to reduce waste and improve the “flow” of their products through their businesses.
The “lean” process is a management philosophy derived from the study of the highly successful Toyota Production System.
Norman Schacht of Pontotoc-based Genesis Furniture Industries is a recent graduate of lean training.
“The training helped me understand and know the lean process,” he said. ” I received good ideas from John’s examples through his work experience and not just through teaching the theory. I received hands-on training that I could not have received from books.”
Marty Harrelson of Fibre Craft plans to improve workflow processes by using visual aids – diagrams and pictures – to communicate to plant workers. To get a leg up on the competition he also wants to reduce inventory and reduce waste material and labor waste.
Both graduates say the lean training has been a good investment for survival in the global marketplace.
“You will eventually have to change anyway or go out of business,” Schacht said. “Not only do you have to compete in the U.S. but also China and other countries in the future.”
In addition to the training, Moore requires that each participant complete a project that improves a process in their own company to demonstrate that they can apply the skills they have learned in the classroom.
“I assist each participant in their project development, and follow up with a review on site at completion,” Moore said. “I follow up again, in six to 12 months, to determine the overall economic success of the business. The results to date are very good. The businesses involved are reporting significant improvements in cost, quality and customer service. Lean is a great management philosophy. Our business environment is highly competitive and always has been. Only the strongest businesses survive.”
The MSU Industrial Outreach Service is a partner with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a national network of service providers created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Dennis Seid