Thoughts on Lean

Six Sigma has been with us for about 25 years and while embraced by many is not without controversy.  Lean, however, has few critics.

The essence of Lean is:

Lean manufacturing or lean production, often known simply as “Lean,” is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Working from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service, “value” is defined as any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for. Basically, lean is centered around creating more value with less work.”

I just returned from IPC’s first Lean Sigma Conference.  It was my privilege to be one of the folks who helped IPC’s Dave Torp in organizing this event.  I attended all the workshops and sessions at the conference.  To say that it was inspirational was an understatement.  The presenters mostly were people who have implemented Lean with considerable success.  They were passionate about its success and promise.  Many of the presenters were from companies that have not only weathered the economic strong, but are prospering.  One company has doubled in size in the past 18 months — to 400 or so — at the expense of a competitor that went out of business because they could not compete with a Lean company.

An interesting aspect of Lean is that almost all the companies practicing it, require their suppliers to be lean organizations, too.  The reason: Lean works.

I see Lean as a significant trend, embraced by management and workers alike.  If you are not Lean now, you must be, and soon!


Dr. Ron

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About Dr. Ron

Materials expert Dr. Ron Lasky is a professor of engineering and senior lecturer at Dartmouth, and senior technologist at Indium Corp. He has a Ph.D. in materials science from Cornell University, and is a prolific author and lecturer, having published more than 40 papers. He received the SMTA Founders Award in 2003.

One thought on “Thoughts on Lean

  1. Sounds great Doc. Next time please post this event in the blog as perhaps some of the readers (me) would like to attend.

    I whole heartedly believe in lean also but I’ve all too often seen in poorly implemented and/or only implemented in a limited fashion. For contract manufacturer’s if your pick and place machine isn’t running, right now, you’re not lean. If you have an average changeover time of more than 15 minutes, you’re not lean.

    Don’t just stick your toe in, do a freaking cannon ball!

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