MRO Magazine

New book offers proven Lean improvement techniques for small companies

Dearborn, MI Companies of all sizes are in a desperate race to remain competitive and profitable in today's 'worl...

Human Resources

November 3, 2008
By MRO Magazine

Dearborn, MI Companies of all sizes are in a desperate race to remain competitive and profitable in today’s ‘world is flat’ economy. One operational tactic that many manufacturers are considering is to implement Lean principles.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers has just released Lean Manufacturing for the Small Shop, Second Edition. Written by noted manufacturing improvement expert, Gary Conner, it continues to serve as the small company’s ‘how-to’ guide to shortening delivery times, eliminating waste, improving quality, and reducing costs.

New case studies, comprehensive, real-world exercises, as well as tips, tools and techniques have been added to the new edition.

Thousands of people at hundreds of small companies used the Shingo-Prize-Award winning first edition of the book, which was published in 2001. Like the first edition, the second is written with the Lean implementer in mind. It not only describes what Lean is, but provides examples of how to customize its many tools so they are useful in the nimble environment of small- to medium-sized organizations that have high-mix, low-volume order files.


In particular, Conner points out that with the first edition, “I was trying to convince managers of the need to adapt the Toyota production system to their manufacturing and administrative processes.” This time around, however, “Lean is no longer a best-kept secret. The need to convince people is over. Companies now realize that they must do something different or deal with the demise of their businesses.”

“Survival in the marketplace is dependent upon adhering as closely as possible to the principles of lean,” Conner adds.

But while many manufacturers may already be aware that Lean equals survival, they may also believe that what works for an OEM or a larger shop will also work for them. However, as Conner explains, “To overlay a template for Toyota or any other like company and expect it to work in a job shop dealing with thousands of part numbers, with little or no forecasting, is not reasonable.”

Chapters focus on topics such as kaizen, value stream mapping, takt time, optimum lot sizes, setup reduction, flow, standard work, problem solving, overall equipment effectiveness, jidoka and poka yoke, pull systems, standard work-in-process, and facility planning. The book also includes a lean self-assessment to help companies benchmark progress.

List price is $45 ($39 for SME Members using order code BK08PUB25). Orders also may be placed by calling 313-425-3000, ext. 4500.