Manufacturing Breakthrough Blog
Monday December 8, 2014
Hi everyone, my name is Bob Sproull and I’ve been contracted by ECi M1 to provide what I believe is a very valuable service to their customers. I’ve been asked to provide, among other things, one blog posting a week that introduces new tools and techniques aimed at demonstrating how companies can become more profitable.
If you saw one of my videos (another medium I’m using), you know that my expertise is in the area of process improvement. As I explained on one of my videos, in all of my years working in this field as a consultant, I have never been approached by a company to teach its customers how to improve their profit margins. I was stunned when M1 asked me to provide this service to you, their customers. This tells me how high on M1’s list that they believe Customer Service is. So let me tell you a little bit about myself and what I can do for you.
A Little about Me
I am a former VP and GM of three different manufacturing companies that were all struggling to survive when I was hired by each company. In each of these companies, in a matter of a few months, I was able to facilitate dramatic bottom line turn-arounds. I am a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and a Theory of Constraints Jonah and have been consulting, off and on, for about 20 years. I am an author of three books, all of them focused on continuous improvement. The book titles are: Epiphanized: Integrating Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (North River Press, 2012); The Ultimate Improvement Cycle—Maximizing Profits Through the Integration of Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints (Productivity Press, 2012); and Process Problem Solving—A Guide for Maintenance and Operations Teams (Productivity Press, 2001). In my last two books, I describe an improvement methodology that combines the Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma and it is this methodology that I will be sharing with you on this blog.
A Little about You
Most companies in today’s manufacturing world are using some form of Lean, Six Sigma or a combination of the two. Unfortunately for many of these companies, they are not seeing the bottom line improvements they had hoped for. In fact, based upon surveys by organizations like the Lean Enterprise Institute and other organizations, roughly fifty percent of companies using these methods are discouraged with their results and are either abandoning them or significantly reducing their efforts. There have been many reasons given for these lackluster results, but the fact is there is a problem. And in my opinion this problem comes down to a lack of focus. I’ll come back to this point shortly.
It is my belief that you don’t need an army of belts populating your company in order to achieve breakthrough performance. What you do need is a structured approach that combines your existing process knowledge to identify where best to focus your improvements. That being said, the method I am using is one that uses key elements of waste and variation reduction to improve the flow of products through your manufacturing process. I have seen too many companies attempting what I refer to as “solving world hunger.” These companies have been taught that waste and variation exists everywhere and that the only way to improve is to remove it from your entire process. Earlier I mentioned a lack of focus as the primary reason why so many improvement initiatives are failing. What I will teach you is how to identify this improvement focal point.
What We've Got Cookin'
Over the coming months, over a series of postings (and articles and whitepapers), I want to introduce you to the method I have been successfully using for over a decade. This method still uses both Lean and Six Sigma, but it adds a new dimension which provides the focus that has been missing in many improvement efforts. This new dimension is realized by combining the waste reduction tools of Lean and the variation reduction methods of Six Sigma with something called the Theory of Constraints (TOC). In my opinion, TOC is the proverbial missing link in these failed improvement initiatives.
Earlier I said that you don’t need an army of Lean Six Sigma Belts to make improvement become a reality. All you really need is the desire to get better, some of the basic methods of waste and variation reduction, and a road map of how to get it done. You don’t need to be a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt or a Lean Sensei to be very successful. It doesn’t matter whether you are a large or a small company, the concepts I will teach you will work for you. You need to know what to change, what to change to, and how to make the change happen and I will teach you these things.
In closing this first blog posting, M1 clearly cares about the success of their customers as is evidenced by them hiring me for the next year. In fact, in the near future I will be hosting what I refer to as a Manufacturing Breakthrough Boot Camp. This event will be a two-day intensive training session on many of the things I’ll be writing about here. There won’t be any prerequisites for this session. More details on this event will be released in the next few weeks, so stay tuned. I look forward to working with all of M1’s current and future customers.