Lean encompasses the various just-in-time approaches. (Bryan, 2002) These two methodologies are the best practice because they fit this framework:
For many managers, lean manufacturing is something that looks great on paper and sounds wonderful in theory, but they want proof that it really works in their ever-changing manufacturing environment. ( Lau, 1996). Now two years into its lean journey, the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Cascade Engineering (www.cascadeng.com), is trying to avoid the common mistake of just implementing lean on the shop floor. The 1,200-employee plastic components provider in the automotive, home and office, and container industries is implementing lean throughout its enterprise. One thing that becomes clear after you tour Cascade's facilities is that the company is striving to adopt lean as a way of life for the whole company, rather than just in the manufacturing plants. The company's leaders recognize that to reduce waste and create customer value, everyone has to actively take part in the process. Cascade's founder, chairman and CEO Fred P. Keller, sent a message about how important lean was for the company as a whole when he hired G.L. Brown as the company's director of lean manufacturing. Keller is making sure all of the necessary resources are available to make the gains of lean stick. "If this company wants to remain an active leader in the upcoming century, it is crucial that we eliminate waste and dedicate ourselves to becoming a lean enterprise," says Keller. (Klier, 1994, 18).
To further demonstrate his dedication to the employees, Keller stressed that some job responsibilities may change but no employees will be laid off as a result of the company's lean initiatives. Their dedication to employees and their superior performance have not gone unnoticed. Cascade has been recognized nationwide for their commitment to people, most notably by recently winning a Ron Brown award and the Michigan Manufacturers Company of the year award. G. L. Brown knew that one of the hardest parts of lean was going to be creating the right environment for Cascade employees. (Lin, 1999) To ease the transition, Brown started a series of training and support sessions. With many years in operations management during his 34-year tenure at General Motors, Brown understood that the employees must have a firm grip on three crucial aspects before initiating the conversion to a lean enterprise:
- everyone must understand why the company is dedicated to the lean philosophy and what's in it for them;
- the employees must understand the system;
- they must understand that there are a number of techniques in the toolbox to implement the system.
Cascade's training consists of lean manufacturing orientation, eyes for waste and eyes for flow, takt time, standard worksheets, the 5-S processes, natural work groups, and value stream mapping as well as other aspects of the "lean enterprise system." Cascade also invites customers and suppliers to training events and kaizen events as they relate to their products. This