We like highlighting and learning from stories about companies getting “lean” because helping manufacturing and distribution companies become more competitive through lean processes supported by good software is exactly where we live.
A recent article in the Mar/Apr issue of APICS Magazine about a lean transformation of an Agilent Technologies spinoff called Keysight Technologies highlights the efforts of that firm to transform its supply chain into a more responsive, flexible and efficient one. The goal was nothing less than to adopt a “holistic approach to develop a comprehensive lean transformation strategy.”
We found a few key takeaways from APICS Magazine’s review of Keysight’s challenges, most notably what they called the three key pillars of their lean transformation. It’s worth noting by the way that Keysight earned the 2016 APICS Corporate Award of Excellence in Innovation as a result of its lean transformation. Those three key pillars:
- Develop Competency: Ensure all employees across all sites are well equipped with the necessary lean competencies.
- Deliver Value: Use lean methodologies to achieve breakthrough results in the areas of cost savings, lead-time reduction and customer satisfaction.
- Sustain a lean culture: To derive long-term value from the lean initiative, foster ongoing improvements through a shift in mind-set and the adoption of lean throughout the organization.
While the full article is too lengthy to detail here, we believe that the points above and the anecdote that follows provide some good “thinking points” as you consider your own lean initiatives. Quoting directly from the APICS article…
“To achieve world-class manufacturing at Keysight, a program was launched that encompasses cycle-time, inventory reduction, greater efficiency and enhanced flexibility. Entire product lines were scanned in order to identify stock keeping units that had high inventories and were not meeting customer-requested lead times. These items were then examined based on revenue and cause-codes, and constraints and bottlenecks were identified. Innovative solutions were implemented one by one to break the constraints. For example, the component-washing process at Keysight had been a cycle time issue because the activity was shared among many different product lines and could only be conducted in batches. However, contract manufacturers did not face such constraints, so component washing was moved to that site.”
We cite the above only to illustrate the style of lean thinking, and the measured steps, that we’ve found over time lead to the virtuous cycle of continuous improvement. Redesigning work centers, optimizing vertical spaces and assembly motion, and implementing other modular concepts are among other efficiency improvements brought about through lean thinking.
Want to hear more? You can learn more about APICS locally here. Want to learn more about how to lean out your operation? At the risk of being commercial here, as we always like to say: We’re here to help! Contact us (reply to this post).