Apr 11, 2009

Lean Manufacturing for electric manufacturing companies

My last business trip to Mexico included meetings with two electric manufacturers. One of them had a fairly good level of manufacturing process in place, with an reasonably clean/ordered plant and a good skill set baseline. The other one had a rather chaotic atmosphere: overcrowded in some areas, extremely hot, and with some workers building several different items at the same time. The commonality they have is the quality of their products is hurting them although, and surprisingly, the first factory more than the second one. Although both companies are profitable they lose money in the faulty products they produce and one of them even lost it's most important customer.

Both companies keep ISO compliance but the time/money consuming compliance activities have done little, if anything, to fix their problems. One first one has made efforts to follow JIT and Six Sigma but to no avail. I noticed during the visit to their plants two common denominators. They both hace a genuine interest on improving their processes; and they have received very limited coaching on how to implement and enforce a good manufacturing process.

I gave them a presentation on Lean Manufacturing and how it may help them produce better products and potentially get their workers to be more productive. Their response was enthusiastic and now it is a matter of them deciding if they want to give Lean a shot.