Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meet the People of Century Spring Manufacturing

Ed, Larry, Scott, Doug & Jon
 There are three main components of a good lean strategy. These three things do not get accomplished over night-instead they require a steady, tortoise-like (NOT hare-like), stubborn effort day in and day out. They are:
1. Move steadily toward becoming a learning organization-it isn't all that common for a manufacturing company to invest in people learning together. This can be in the form of dedicated time each week where everyone is together in a classroom-type setting, or on the shop floor doing A3 closings or kaizan "report outs".
2. Develop a mindset in EVERYONE that it is part of our culture to improve our processes and move toward flow by continuously driving out the eight wastes from our processes.
3. Establish the beginning of some hard, fast goals that are made extremely visible and tracked by shift, daily or weekly. This can be thought of as the start of policy deployment (hoshin kanri).

This is all easier said than done. Some people consider doing some kaizan events or implementing some kanban, 5S, or andon lights "doing lean". The heavy lifting, of course is complimenting the existing culture with a stubborn mindset throughout the company to constantly get better (faster, by seeing then removing waste).
June and Brenda
This requires a strong committed leadership, as well as people willing to look at their own processes with an eye for improvement, and a spirit of experimentation to change.

Todd, Craig & Matt
Please meet the people of Century Spring Manufacturing in Bristol, CT. This is a small, family-owned company that manufactures customized springs and products such as: compression springs, extension springs, four-slide products, torsion springs, and wire forms. They have been at it for over 30 years, and in the midst of dozens of other spring manufacturers right in their backyard. Century's President, Bill Waseleski, and Vice President, Larry Carlucci, fully understand that getting faster by seeing and identifying waste is a business strategy that delights customers. Let's take a look at what this company has done over the past 4 months. 99% of the people have read "The Toyota Way" and have completed 22 quizzes. This group of less than 30 people have completed the process of A3 thirteen times, and will close 4 or 5 more over the next couple of weeks. (Compare this to companies with 70-100 people that do a half dozen kaizan "events" in a year).
Brian, Amy & Yung
The entire company has embraced the concept of policy deployment, have established 4 key metrics that have begun to guide their kaizan (A3) activity. 

Dave, Nancy & Lisa
It is very unusual for any company to embrace all 3 components simultaneously, and that quickly.   (If you don't believe me, try doing the reading and quizzes in your company!) I have a ton of admiration for this company because of their willingness to help and teach each other, and for their fearlessness with regard to trying new ways to work. The changes in the work have been led by the people who DO the work. This takes great, not good, leadership. And, these people REALLY like and respect each other. Neat place.

By the way, Ed, you should probably take the banner down now.

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