Getting Lean with Koike Aronson

Written by: Chuck Phetteplace

What is Lean Manufacturing? Very simply stated, it is the elimination of waste. Along with most businesses, we have emphasized cutting costs and improving quality. In the past, we created work teams, cross functional teams, quality circles, and other groups with limited success.

Our Lean Journey began in February 2008 with 5S Kaizen events that cleaned the clutter and organized work areas. As you know, constant improvement is a big part of lean. Each year we get a little better: removing non-value added steps, reducing time standards, adding detailed work instructions with pictures, among others. This year we hired a consultant, the same one we had in 2008, to come in and review us. He was impressed with our success. With his help, we decided to take it up a notch: we will train new people through Kaizens series in all of the manufacturing departments. The trainings include SMED (single minute exchange of dyes), DMAIC (define measure, analyze, improve, control), organizing areas for better flow, and fixed locations. Advancements were also made on visual management capability. Through value stream mapping, we were able to improve the process of maintenance requisitions. Most recently, we enacted a program where departments are recognized and rewarded for their lean efforts, called the "KAR LEAN MACHINE." Our Lean Journey continues!

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