While Lean was certainly a high-profile topic at the ECOAT 2008 conference held in May in Indianapolis, my takeaway was that many attendees aren’t practicing this manufacturing philosophy.

“Remember when everyone talked about just-in-time manufacturing?” asked the person on the other end of the phone, a manager with a leading finishing equipment manufacturer. “Now it’s Lean that everyone talks about.”

Maybe.

While Lean was certainly a high-profile topic at the ECOAT 2008 conference held in May in Indianapolis, my takeaway was that many attendees aren’t practicing this manufacturing philosophy.

Lean is one of those terms that almost everyone has heard, but few can articulate with certainty. Simply put, it’s about creating a company culture that continuously strives to achieve shorter cycle times and reduce costs by eliminating waste and nonvalue-added work - we have Toyota to thank, as it’s the Toyota Production System (TPS) that started the Lean movement. Today, Lean is embraced as much by the nonmanufacturing world (healthcare, hospitality, government, etc.) as it is by manufacturers.

ECOAT 2008 kudos go to PPG’s Brett Hyndman, Doug McPheron and Gary Orosz for doing an outstanding workshop on the “Lean Aspects of E-Coat,” complete with plastic, prize-filled eggs tossed by McPheron to attendees able to cite Lean characteristics of e-coat paints and Hyndman’s simple pepperoni pizza illustration that showed what goes into producing a finished product - including energy costs and wasted ingredients - and which components customers are willing to pay for. (Hint: It’s not the light bill or the dropped toppings.) One might say that Hyndman found a tastyway todeliveran important message.

A Lean keynote by Matt Kirchner, CEO, American Finishing Resources, opened the dual-track conference program, followed by a Lean panel discussion featuring input from Steve Rapagnani of George Koch Sons, David Myers of Luvata ElectroFin Texas, Robert Byrne of PPG, Jeff Oravitz of MetoKote and Donald LaFlamme of Coral Chemical.

Unfortunately, when it came time for the Lean Q&A, the silence at times was deafening, especially when attendees were encouraged to share their Lean successes.

While Kirchner’s message on the importance ofsustainingLean was huge - after all it is the 5th “S” of Lean’s 5S principles - I was left thinking that for many of the attendeesstart(which doesn’t have 5S status) might’ve been an even more appropriate message.

Quick, what are the other 5S principles*?

A Final Farewell

Sometimes even Lean operations aren't enough to sustain a business during difficult economic times. It is with deep regret that I must inform you that due to market pressures/ conditions, the July issue of Finishing Today will be its last. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you for the past two years. While the magazine is ceasing publication, BNP Media remains committed to providing the information you need to help you succeed in business. Visitwww.bnpmedia.comfor links to related publications, includingPaint & Coatings Industry,Appliance Designand other manufacturing and engineering titles.


*5S’s of Lean – Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain