June, 2007

A publication brought to you by the Manufacturers Alliance

Subscribe | Join MA
Upcoming Events

February 7th 2023 09:00 am
- The Role of the Leader Online

February 8th 2023 08:00 am
- Creating Process Maps

February 9th 2023 08:00 am
- Sustaining Lean Culture Through Leadership Changes

February 14th 2023 09:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems Supervision Fundamentals Certification

February 15th 2023 09:00 am
- The Role of the Leader

February 16th 2023 08:00 am
- Conflict, Communication and Collaboration

February 21st 2023 08:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems 6 Sigma Green Belt Certification

February 21st 2023 09:00 am
- Leadership Style & Versatility Online

February 22nd 2023 08:00 am
- Root Cause Analysis

February 22nd 2023 09:00 am
- Learning to Solve Problems Supervision Fundamentals Certification

Article Index

A Case Study on Overcoming Resistance to a Kanban System
Author Unknown
The most difficult part of Lean is sustainment and Kanban systems are no exception. In order to sustain these systems, there must be a sense of ownership with the individuals who come into contact with the cards everyday.
A Plan for Those Electronic Files
Article by: Robin Gast
You've got those paper files under control - but do you know where anything is on your computer? Did someone ever ask you a question and you know you have a document referencing the answer somewhere, but now you can't remember if you saw it in an article or an e-mail or a memo someone sent you?
Survival of the Smartest
Article by: Lynn Moline & Mike Braun
The writers at Fortune Small Business magazine should have visited Minnesota when they wrote their June 2007 cover story called "Feisty Factories." Any of dozens of Manufacturers Alliance members are doing exactly what the six or so companies profiled in the article are doing.
The 2007 Minnesota Employment-Related Legislative Roundup
Article by: Gregory Peters
While tax and funding bills, and vetoes occupied much of the attention this spring, our state government passed a few employment-related laws that will affect manufacturers. Listed briefly below are some of the new laws:
  1. "Notice of Employee Rights." Under this law, effective on January 1, 2008, all private sector employers with twenty (20) or more employees will be required to provide new hires with written notification concerning employee rights and remedies under the Minnesota Personnel Records Review and Access statutes.

Do You Sell Products to Europe?
Article by: Georjean L. Adams
The European Union's regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) is now in effect for all products imported into or made in the EU. You have until June 2008 to determine if you will need to register your products and file a pre-registration notice if you do.
ADVERTISEMENT
A Case Study on Overcoming Resistance to a Kanban System
The most difficult part of Lean is sustainment and Kanban systems are no exception. In order to sustain these systems, there must be a sense of ownership with the individuals who come into contact with the cards everyday.

Ideally, they should be part of a kaizen to implement the cards, but not everyone can be on the kaizen and sometimes we don't have the resources to host a kaizen. So what do we do then? How do we create ownership? I hope the following stories can help illustrate some examples of how to accomplish this.

At a local custom plastic extrusions manufacturer I implemented Kanban on 80% of our incoming materials for one plant and the system was working wonderfully. The loop was sized correctly and all of the players were on board. The next challenge was to put a dent into the second plant which had some strong personalities to work with.

Purchasing, Receiving, and Material Handlers all had a crucial role to play. Their acceptance of the process would ultimately make or break the sustainment of the Kanban system. Everything was sized properly and the cards were made. In retrospect, waiting to make all of the cards until everyone was on board would have been a good idea. I began to make the rounds to all the key players.

First, I sat down with the purchaser. The key here was to emphasize that even though this meant that she would need to walk the plant floor every morning (getting folks in the office out on the floor is essential), this new system would greatly reduce the number of uncomfortable arguments with production due to lack of materials. This is true with most purchasers and the thought of getting rid of those arguments is a very strong selling point.

Next, I spoke with receiving. I had previously earned trust with shipping by reducing inventories so it was a pretty easy sell. Also, the new Kanban cards replaced the current company labels so it was not extra work for them, just a different identifying tag to attach to incoming product. Now when I got to the Material Handlers, I was met by critical stares and little feedback. I could tell that they were not on board. I pressed for them to tell me what they didn't like about the Kanban system. Eventually they opened up and said that the part numbers on the cards were too small, so that same day I spent hours remaking every card with larger part numbers. They seemed to appreciate the responsiveness to their input. A few days later one of them came up to me and told me that he was color blind and that he would appreciate a white background for the part numbers, so that same day I again re-made every card. He came up to me afterwards and said that he was not expecting someone from the office to respond to his feedback like that. He felt like his voice mattered and that I was there to serve him rather than the other way around. The Kanban system was no longer just mine. After that day he owned it as well because he helped design it.

Later that year I helped a customer implement Kanban at their site and ran into the same issue. A kaizen team had spent hours making a bunch of Kanban cards, but the material handlers could not attend the event. When we presented the cards to them, they asked for a different layout. The team was upset with the notion of remaking every card, but I explained that this was a great opportunity to make the material handlers owners of the system. When we walked out the next morning with all new cards, they lit up. This is how you create long-term ownership that leads to sustainment, the most difficult aspect of Lean Enterprise. Both systems have been in place for over a year that resulted in 50% less inventory and fewer shortages.

This approach not only encourages sustainment, but it develops the culture necessary for Lean Enterprise. As change agents or management, we are not the ones whose wishes should be served by the folks touching product everyday, but rather the other way around. By taking this approach, not only will your Kanban systems succeed, but also so will your Lean Journey.

Around the Corner
Need to learn how to implement a Lean MRS/kanban or improve on a current MRS program? Learn more about the Lean Materials Replenishment workshop on August 14.
Author Unknown

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
A Plan for Those Electronic Files
You've got those paper files under control - but do you know where anything is on your computer? Did someone ever ask you a question and you know you have a document referencing the answer somewhere, but now you can't remember if you saw it in an article or an e-mail or a memo someone sent you?

You may already have half the work done. Look at your paper files. How are they organized? Current projects in a drawer close at hand? (very Lean - good for you!) Older or less active projects stored a little further away? Do you have an area for reference materials?

Why not organize your e-mail and electronic files to match your paper files? Told you that you were already halfway there. You may still not remember if the document you want to reference is a paper copy, an e-mail, or an electronic file, but you will only need to check three folders and they will all be organized the same way.

Organize your electronic files the same way your paper files are organized. For example, create a "Current Projects" folder and then subfolders within that folder of all the different projects upon which you are currently working. File documents from old projects you are not ready to get rid of in an "Old Projects" folder with subfolders as needed. Store materials that have interesting information, but you just can't assign to a project in a "Reference" folder.

Organize your e-mails the same way your paper and electronic files are organized. Create a "Current Projects" folder and then subfolders within that folder. Create an "Old Projects" and "Reference" folder within your e-mail system to match your paper files. Create folders for personnel items and for personal items.

Now you might be thinking, "Wait a minute, I can't file all that stuff as soon as it comes in, I'll lose sight of it and won't remember to follow up. My problem is there are 300 e-mails in my inbox and my desk is covered with the things I need to work on next."

My solution was to create a "Follow Up Today," "Follow Up This Week," and a "Follow Up Later," paper folder and e-mail folder. In addition, I created "Miscellaneous Reading" folders for all those great articles that get sent to me and I really do want to read, but just not now.

Pull out the "Follow Up Today" paper folder every morning and put it away at the end of each day. No more pile of papers scattered around the desk. Keep e-mail open to the "Follow Up Today" file and go into your Inbox only to sort new items out into their appropriate locations.

And just like any 5S project, don't forget that last S - Sustain. Set aside a couple minutes at the end of each day to move items from "Follow Up this Week" to "Follow Up Today" as needed. On occasion, extend this to "Follow Up Later." Once a month, set an appointment to go through your "Current Projects" and discern whether it is time to move anything to the "Old Projects" folder. Use this same process for your paper, electronic, and e-mail files.

If you don't have a project-oriented job, you can still translate the above filing system from your paper files to your e-mails and electronic folders. Or, if you really like the way one system is organized, you can organize the rest of your files according to that one system, the key being to make them match. And most important of all, take that time at the end of the day, the end of the week, and the end of the month to purge anything that is no longer needed. Ten minutes once a week will still add up to an entire day over the course of a year, but it's a lot less painful and tedious to do if you break it up into those small chunks and you will get to feel organized and uncluttered all year, not just on the first of January.
<img src="http://www.mfrall.com/newsletter/authorpics/robingast.jpg" align="left">Robin Gast is the Process Improvement Director at Thymes, a manufacturer of body, home care, and home fragrance products. She may be reached at rgast@thymes.com.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
Survival of the Smartest
The writers at Fortune Small Business magazine should have visited Minnesota when they wrote their June 2007 cover story called "Feisty Factories." Any of dozens of Manufacturers Alliance members are doing exactly what the six or so companies profiled in the article are doing.

The point of the article was that if your company manufactures a commodity that could easily be made in China, you might as well hang it up. But you've got it made if you've cracked the code for flexibility, innovation, and high quality specialty products made at lightning fast speeds. Many of the companies that do this, according to the article, are small.

It's true that manufacturing in general is in a slump in the U.S.; it accounted for just twelve percent of U.S. gross domestic product last year compared to seventeen percent in 1986. Manufacturing employment has taken an even sharper nosedive, dropping from 17 million workers in 1996 to just over 14 million in 2006.

But the article quotes a Kauffman Foundation study that says the number of manufacturing startups spiked 67 percent in the last six years, and all indicators say that those are small companies. It's probably safe to assume that something similar is happening here. Furthermore, the value of Minnesota's manufactured exports grew from $3.2 billion in 2004 to $3.8 billion in 2005 to $4.6 billion in 2006, according to the National Association of Manufacturers and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

So how are Minnesota manufacturers beating the odds in an era when Third World countries are gobbling up the mass production market? The answer may have been news to some readers of FSB, but as we've learned in Minnesota, it's due to the rewards of rigorous dedication to continuous improvement and bold investments in technology. Improved efficiencies, reduced operating costs, slashed cycle times, and well-managed supply chains, coupled with a focus on products that require innovative design and application of advanced technology, give us a fighting chance in today's markets.

Of course, off-shoring is an option many companies pursue. But if you're in the right market and have managed your production time, goods produced locally can compete. At least one local manufacturer offers customers two prices. The first is a lower price for parts made in Asia; the second, higher price for the same part produced here comes with a guaranteed delivery date.

If you're looking for evidence that small manufacturers in Minnesota are on the right track, look up the article. You'll find it affirming.
Lynn Moline, owner of Lynn Moline Associates, Inc., is a consultant and trainer who specializes in executive development, executive team alignment, and planning. Mike Braun is a partner at CLG, a company that provides behavior-based strategy execution and performance improvement services.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
The 2007 Minnesota Employment-Related Legislative Roundup
While tax and funding bills, and vetoes occupied much of the attention this spring, our state government passed a few employment-related laws that will affect manufacturers. Listed briefly below are some of the new laws:
  1. "Notice of Employee Rights." Under this law, effective on January 1, 2008, all private sector employers with twenty (20) or more employees will be required to provide new hires with written notification concerning employee rights and remedies under the Minnesota Personnel Records Review and Access statutes.

  2. Expansion of Protection Against Employer Retaliation for Victims of Violent Crimes. Employers are already required to provide employees who are victims of, or witnesses to, crimes, a reasonable amount of time off from work to attend criminal proceedings for purposes of giving testimony. Leave is also extended to the spouse or "next of kin" of the victim of a "heinous crime" (both of which are not defined by statute). Effective July 1, 2007, the law will continue to provide leave for spouses, but expands leave to a more inclusive group of employees characterized as "immediate family members." Leave will be allowed in instances of "violent crime," which replaces "heinous crime" formerly used. "Violent crime," as defined in the amended statute, includes a much more expansive list of leave-qualifying crimes.

  3. Freedom to Breathe Act of 2007. The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act was amended, effective October 1, 2007, to "protect employees and the general public from the hazards of secondhand smoke." The amended statute aspires to accomplish its goal of eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke in places of employment and public places by:

    • Broadly defining "smoking" to include inhaling or exhaling of smoke, or carrying any lighted tobacco plant or product.


    • Prohibiting "smoking" in virtually all places of business and enclosed public places.


    • Prohibiting "smoking" in vehicles (excluding heavy commercial vehicles) used in whole or in part for work purposes during hours of operation, if two or more people are present.

  4. Obligation to Take Steps to Protect Against Disclosure of Social Security Numbers. This law, effective on July 1, 2007, imposes specific prohibitions on private employer use of employee and customer Social Security numbers, including, without limitation, the following prohibitions:

    • Printing an individual's Social Security number on any card required for the individual to access products or services provided by the company.


    • Using a number as the primary account identifier that is identical to or incorporates an individual's complete Social Security number.

Employers are also obligated to restrict access to individuals' Social Security numbers. Only employees who require the numbers to perform their job duties have access, except where otherwise authorized by federal law.

Among the other laws passed are modifications that will impact the High Pressure Piping industry. Briefly, this concerns a newly created Board of High Pressure Piping System. It impacts how employers in this industry distinguish between apprentices, journeymen, and master pipefitters and the requirement for various categories of pipefitters to register a license with the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry.

Another change has to do with "Best Value" Procurement System for State Government Construction, in which an across-the-board alternative approach to the traditional low-bid system of project procurement has been created. Contractors may be awarded bids not necessarily because they are the lowest bidder, but because of other criteria, including quality, timeliness of project, customer satisfaction on previous jobs, qualification of contractor's employees.
Gregory L. Peters, is an attorney with Seaton, Peters & Revnew, P.A. whose practice is limited to representing employers in labor and employment matters. Mr. Peters has worked with companies in all areas of employment counseling, employment litigation, labor arbitration, union organizing and labor negotiations. Mr. Peters can be reached at (952) 921-4607.

Back to Top

ADVERTISEMENT
Do You Sell Products to Europe?
The European Union's regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) is now in effect for all products imported into or made in the EU. You have until June 2008 to determine if you will need to register your products and file a pre-registration notice if you do.

Why pre-register? It will give you more time and enable you to share costs for the extensive data package that has to be submitted to the authorities. Otherwise, you will be on your own for potentially $100,000's in testing costs and dossier preparation needed before your first shipment after June 1, 2008.

Filing the pre-registration will be trivial. Checking whether you will covered by REACH and how takes time and effort. Do it NOW!

Some of the questions you need to ask about each of your European products (shipped now or in the future) are:
  1. Is the product a chemical or mixture of chemicals?

  2. Does the product contain chemicals that are intended to be dispensed and used? (e.g., ink)

  3. If the product is an article, does it contain one of the "high concern" chemicals designated by the EU at greater than 0.1%? If so, can you prove there is no way exposure can occur?

  4. Do any of the various exemptions apply to the chemical?

Once you are REACHed, you need to figure out when and what kind of registration dossier you need to prepare and with whom you need to coordinate - both in preparing the dossier and in communicating "Chemical Safety Reports?" to downstream customers. Which customers import >1 metric ton? How is the product used (chemicals are registered by use category)? Do you want to set up an "only representative" who can process all your REACH registrations? When will you hit the tonnage thresholds for reporting? How will you keep track? How much data do you already have? Are there consortia of companies to join to share in the cost of testing?

The EU will review the REACH chemical's uses and decide what kinds of restrictions are necessary. Check out the EU's REACH information site: http://ec.europa.eu/

The effort involved with REACH is enormous. Do not delay.

Around the Corner
Lean & Green a monthly Educational Program by the Manufacturers Alliance focusing on "no waste" - including energy, water, chemical and solid wastes. Learn More
EHS Strategies, Inc. offers management consultant in environmental, health and safety, specializing in chemical regulations, www.ehsstrategies.com. Contact Georjean Adams at 651-204-3371 or gla@ehsstrategies.com

Back to Top


Copyright © 2011 Manufacturers Alliance. All rights reserved.
Thank you for reading the Manufacturers Alliance E-Newsletter.