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In the contract manufacturing industry, OEM clients are becoming more demanding, markets are now more customized, and product life cycles are getting shorter. In response, a lot of contract manufacturers are turning to lean principles to remain competitive. Lean thinking is about removing waste in the organization to generate real, tangible benefits for the customer. No longer an optional methodology, lean manufacturing is now an essential component to keeping up with the changes in the contract manufacturing industry.
While the benefits are many, they will not be realized unless lean methodology is woven into the culture. Fusion OEM adopted this holistic approach through a series of trainings and team development initiatives with the help of the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC). Lean 101 training is a program available from IMEC that teaches the effectiveness of Lean concepts. During the session, IMEC brings in materials and demonstrates how to evaluate processes and make them more efficient through the application of Lean principles such as one-piece flow, visual pull systems, line balancing and more. We periodically run this program for our entire workforce to introduce Lean thinking to new employees, refresh the principles for veterans, and to reinforce our emphasis on having a company culture of Lean thinking. This applies to every function and department in the company – from the production floor to the front office.
We intentionally took this approach over having a dedicated person (a “Lean Cop”) or team for our Lean initiatives for the following reasons: