Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lean Tar Heels

Albemarle will be Lean. I'm sure of it after my trip there yesterday. They've got a new Lean Advocate, Kraig Ault, who is a Lean Six Sigma know-it-all (just ask him about any statistical analysis technique that you can think of). Their Production Manager, Allen Tucker, has been invovled with Lean for over a year now, and will be instrumental in pushing the Basic Workplace Organization (BWO) effort that we're just now initiating. Their GM, Frank Emmerich, is supporting both Kraig and Allen in their endeavours, and I think having Frank's hands-on guidance will make a big difference. Having these three pieces of the triangle (Lean Advocate, Production Manager, & GM) makes their path ahead much more navigable.

Of course, Albemarle is beginning from the same starting point as most of our plants. Some of their work flows resemble spaghetti, some areas can get messy at times, and there isn't much visual control of the workplace. These same traits are evident in about every plant that I've visited so far, so there isn't anything special about Albemarle's situation. The point is that we all have to get started sometime, regardless of where we are currently. Albemarle is moving full-steam-ahead with their Lean initiative, and it's wonderful to see.

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