Posts Tagged ‘Lean Manufacturing’

You Need Lean Maintenance to Make Lean Manufacturing Succeed!

Written by Lawrence Bouvier, CMRP
Vice President – Fuss & O’Neill Manufacturing Solutions

Is equipment downtime holding you back from achieving Lean Manufacturing success?

We all have heard of the seven wastes addressed in Lean Manufacturing, but did you ever consider that if you applied similar principles to equipment health, you’d want a discipline to create Lean Maintenance?

Overproduction, Inventory and Waiting are three of the seven lean wastes that can come as a result of equipment failures.  A good maintenance process will keep these to minimum levels.  So, how can we achieve this?  The only way is to minimize the amount of maintenance and repair that we perform on machines!

IMEC to host Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Series for Manufacturers

Lean Six Sigma Green BeltIntegrate concepts of Lean and Six Sigma to increase productivity, boost quality

The Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) is launching a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training series on June 8th in southern Illinois for small and mid-sized manufacturers to learn how to integrate concepts of Lean and Six Sigma to increase productivity and ultimately, boost quality in their facility. This group training serves as a first step to positioning a company to realize significant savings through the Lean Six Sigma effort, providing short term payback and ongoing savings as processes are continuously improved.


The Lean Six Sigma Green Belt candidates will undergo eight days of intensive training, over an 8-week period. The training will be conducted one day each week at John A. Logan College in Carterville, in partnership with JALC’s engineering department and continuing education. Prior to the series start, candidates will meet with the Black Belt trainer to discuss their specific objectives of the course and establish the potential project for initiation throughout the series. Courses to be led by Jim Pape, IMEC Quality Professional and Six Sigma Black Belt with more than 30 years of manufacturing and quality service experience.


For more information, or to register, visit or contact Amy Fitzgerald, IMEC Marketing Manager, at 309-677-2977 or


About IMEC

IMEC was established in 1996 with the goal of improving the productivity and competitiveness of Illinois’ small and mid-sized manufacturing firms. A non-profit economic development organization, IMEC is funded in part by the National Institute of Standards and Technology/ Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and through fees paid by Illinois manufacturers for IMEC’s services. IMEC has 13 offices statewide and 35 full-time manufacturing improvement specialists.

Cash incentives available for energy efficiency projects

Ameren’s ActOnEnergy® helps manufacturers use less…save more

The Ameren Illinois ActOnEnergy® program offers a variety of cash incentives and resources to help your manufacturing business invest in smart energy solutions.  Manufacturing operations are among the most energy-intensive businesses, so there’s great potential to improve efficiency.  Energy-efficient upgrades can lower your energy bills and maintenance costs by thousands of dollars each year.  No matter the size of your business, we’re focused on helping you save more and boost your bottom line.

Cash incentives are available for a variety of manufacturing and industrial facility projects, including:

  • No-cost/low-cost energy efficiency improvements
  • Compressed air leak survey and repair
  • Steam trap survey and replacement
  • Variable frequency drive (VFD) installs
  • Lighting upgrades
  • HVAC and water heater replacements
  • Custom projects

For more information or to get started, visit or call 1.866.800.0747


Real Customers – Real Results

  • Continental Tire in Mount Vernon received over $235,000 in cash incentives to repair compressed air leaks in their facility – they now save $200,000 annually on their energy bills!
  • With the help of more than $40,000 in cash incentives, a central Illinois manufacturer installed VFDs on three pump motors and lowered their annual energy bills by $65,000!
  • A small manufacturing company in west-central Illinois used over $2,000 in cash incentives to replace three boilers – saving them more than $1,000 per year!

Want more Real Results?  Download case studies at

Maximize the Success of Your Lean Journey

Ideas about how to get the most out of your Lean tools

These days, we are overloaded with information about Lean — what it is and what Lean tools do. Despite that, it’s difficult to find truly practical information on how to execute Lean Transformation and lead real change. Every company’s Lean journey starts under a different situation, so there can be no single prescription. One size does not fit all. But, to sustain improvements and ensure success, there are many factors to consider before launching your Lean journey.

Many people know about Lean but aren’t doing anything with that knowledge. They don’t know where to begin or see too many obstacles preventing them from making the commitment. Even more discouraging, many companies that do implement Lean don’t consider their efforts to be a great success. So, why is it that such a small percentage of firms that know about Lean convert it into a success? The leadership, cultural, organizational and implementation hurdles are much greater than they expected.

Here are some helpful tips for your Lean Journey (in part from lessons learned along the way from those who have been there) to help you on the road ahead:

Job Shops have a Unique Set of Challenges

Long lead times, missed delivery times, demanding or nonpaying customers, too many unsuccessful quotes, too much shop overtime—life isn’t always smooth for job shops.

The term “job shop” refers to custom manufacturing and make-to-order businesses. These firms share some common characteristics that differ from repetitive manufacturing settings, for example using a quoting process to secure work, and producing work on an order-to-order basis to meet customer specifications. While some job shops do purely custom work, many manufacturing firms have a mix of custom and repeat orders.

Value Stream Mapping

One of the most valuable improvement tools for job shops is also a simple one – Value Stream Mapping – this technique involves drawing a visual representation – a map– of every step in the product’s path, or “value stream,” from “quote to cash”– from quote/bid, through engineering, to the shop floor and out the door. Given the significance of front-end processes in securing orders, it is particularly critical for job shops to include them in their value stream map. The resulting map helps companies scrutinize each aspect of their operation and identify areas for improvement.

Training Grants Available For Manufacturers

Funding Support Available for Continuous Improvement!

For manufacturers planning projects to contain costs, increase efficiency, or boost quality, state grant funds can help offset up to 50% of the costs of approved training.

Contact your IMEC account manager to schedule a brief, no-cost review of your operations and develop a training plan. Training can be provided by IMEC’s specialists or IMEC-qualified vendors.

Continuous Quality Improvement: Lean and Six Sigma

IMEC_specialist_conversationOver the years, operating and management strategies have taken on new names, new packaging and even become their own “fads” within industries.  Who can forget Quality Circles in the late 70’s or TQM in the 1980’s?   Today, there’s TPM, TPS, Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, Training Within Industry (TWI), and Value engineering.  There’s ISO, TS, QS, AS 9100.  There’s SPC, PPAP, APQP, fishbones, paretos, scatters, and many hundreds more.

Regardless of what you call them or what buzz words are attached, most companies want to deliver products of impeccable quality, on time, at costs that will generate the highest profit margins.  If the pursuit of these goals is viewed as a short-term strategy, with a defined life span, it doesn’t fit the most appropriate and impactful name of all:  Continuous improvement.

Lean Series Preparing Manufacturers to Meet Expected Increases In Demand

IMEC_Continuous_Improvement_SeriesManufacturing leaders seeking to take advantage of expected increases in demand can get access to proven methods to increase productivity by participating in IMEC’s signature Continuous Improvement Series. This unique program, which trains company leaders on best practices on cost-containment and operating efficiency, starts January 28th at Northern Illinois University’s Rockford Center.

“Rockford manufacturers are under intense pressure to produce smarter as a way to increase margins,” said Roger Shrum, an IMEC project specialist.  “One way they can differentiate in today’s price-competitive environment is to deliver at the lowest cost possible.  The techniques we will be transferring in the CI Series will give manufacturers the tools to be more flexible in meeting the demands of their customers.”