Study Identifies Lean Manufacturing Needs

The results of a new survey, conducted by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), reports small job shop owners and their employees need help on learning how to reduce set-up cycle time, knowing more about lean manufacturing principles, workforce development principles and general business analysis. The survey, “A Reporting of the Lean Manufacturing Needs Assessment of Northeast Manufacturers,” was conducted in the fall of 2002 among registrants of the EASTEC Advanced Productivity Exposition (APEX), and identified the specific lean manufacturing needs and production challenges of Northeast manufacturers.

The Toyota Production System, known as “lean manufacturing,” has become a focal point for manufacturers seeking ways to enhance quality, cut costs, reduce waste and improve overall efficiency. The SME survey reported that:

• 34 percent of manufacturers recognized the need for a lean approach or would like to implement lean principles, but are not sure how to proceed.

• 41 percent are either not familiar with lean or have read about it, but have not considered implementing it.

• Respondents from companies with fewer than 50 employees are less likely to be familiar with lean and are less likely to have implemented it.

• Mid-sized companies or OEMs are likely to be more familiar and more likely to have systems in place.

• Job shop owners and corporate executives are less familiar with lean concepts than manufacturing engineers or quality managers.

Said Gary Mikola, SME director of expositions, “During these unsettling economic times, it is critical that manufacturers look at their operations to determine what they can do to increase profitability and efficiency while reducing waste. As part of SME’s continuing commitment to educate and support manufacturers, we conducted the survey to determine what resources Northeast manufacturers need to start implementation of lean practices and principles in their companies.”

As a result of this survey, SME has developed a Lean Manufacturing Pavilion and Conference at EASTEC 2003, May 20-22, at the Eastern States Exposition Grounds in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The pavilion is designed to provide forum for attendees to meet one-on-one with lean consultants and equipment providers.

The conference will offer workshops and present case studies with topics including “Lean Manufacturing for the Small Shop,” and “Building the Lean Organization.”

Conference attendees will receive SME books, videos, access to on-line courses and other educational materials. Attendees may also obtain a lean assessment of their facility by the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership (GBMP), based at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, a non-profit corporation that helps small and medium-sized manufacturing companies become more productive and competitive. The Lean Manufacturing Conference is co-sponsored by SME’s Manufacturing Engineering magazine and GBMP.

For more information on EASTEC 2003, the Lean Manufacturing Pavilion and Conference, visit www.SME.org\\eastec or call SME Customer Service at (800) 733-4763. Copies of the survey may be obtained by calling SME Customer Service.

EASTEC is the East Coast’s largest annual manufacturing event and is sponsored by SME, the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association, and AMT -- The Association for Manufacturing Technology.

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