Tuesday - Friday | August 25-28, 2020

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA | USA

Check the latest article for IWF atlanta users


31. July 2018 09:16

BY: Bill Boxer, Modern Finishing Products, Inc.

Over the past few months we’ve explored HVLP from a few different perspectives. We started with an overview of HVLP technology, explored HVLP turbine/turbospray systems and then HVLP spray guns with compressed air.

Today I’d like to touch upon the growth of HVLP technology through its history. You may ask “why is this important?” As with any technology times change and product grows. We tend to remember early times and early product entries but often neglect to see what’s new and how technology rapidly changes offering more options and possibilities to spray finishing technicians.

So, what’s changed with HVLP? First we had the discover period. This takes us back to the 1960’s and earlier when it was discovered that it was possible to atomize a low viscosity fluid with a high velocity or volume of air as produced by the exhaust outlet on a common household vacuum. In fact, early use of the technology had nothing to do with spray finishing at all but rather some household applications requiring misted fluids.

This atomizing concept led a few companies in Europe to further explore the possibilities of using a high volume of air to atomize actual products used to finish wood and metal. Early product entries were looked at skeptically even with good results using low viscosity coatings. As with anything new, acceptance was not easily forthcoming. There was yet to be concerns about environmental pollution, greater efficiency in the workplace along with product and cost savings given the visible reduced overspray and higher retention of product on the workpiece.

Historically there has always been a fear of change and learning new products and concepts. Turbospray technology, as it was known through the 60’s and 70’s continued to limp along finding its way to the USA in the early 1970’s and finally a serious attempt in the late 1970’s to establish the technology as a serious and viable product as an option or alternative to conventional compressed air spray finishing.

As with any product, a person of vision, belief in the product and the ability to communicate with the consumer finally brought turbospray technology to the forefront. It is generally recognized in the industry that this was a company known as Apollo Sprayers International, Inc, and its founder John B. Darroch. It was John B. Darroch who persevered and brought the technology to South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) as a product that had the ability to reduce VOC emissions into the environment through a dramatically more efficient way to atomize a range of finishes and coatings. In fact Darroch had laboratory testing completed proving the high transfer efficiency of turbospray technology as opposed to conventional compressed air spray finishing. This is what led to Turbospray becoming HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) as named by SCAQMD along with developing a series of codes requiring various workplace applications to be compliant with the new rules.

Now into the 1980’s HVLP becomes a buzz word in the finishing world. While certainly not replacing conventional methods and other finishing technologies, HVLP begins its serious entry into the workplace. Of course given this early publicity you now start to have a few additional manufacturers enter the marketplace along with established spray gun manufacturers like Binks and DeVilbiss looking at ways to create spray guns that would comply with the new HVLP codes as opposed to the alternative independent turbospray systems that did not utilize compressed air but rather the blower type motor to produce the high air volume/low pressure as originally discovered back in the 1960’s.

The actual growth through the 80’s and 90’s brought to the market better designed and performing spray guns for both the HVLP turbine/turbospray systems as well as HVLP spray guns for compressed air. At the same time, new blower motor technology improved with the demand for HVLP with more powerful motors that increased nozzle pressure allowing higher viscosities to be applied.

Growth continued into and through the new century with more innovation further closing the gap between other technologies while offering the many benefits offered by the HVLP technologies discussed in previous articles.

If your personal history goes back to the 1980’s and memories of some performance limitations and you dismissed HVLP as not relevant for an application you may have desired, let me encourage you to look again and see the performance growth along with precision spray guns that have much to offer not only the wood and woodworking industries but other high performance finishing applications as well.

 Learn more about this subject during Bill's session "HVLP Turbospray Technology, Past-Present-Future" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.




Finishing expert speaking at IWF trains industry regularly

31. July 2018 09:12

ATLANTA – Phil Stevenson of AWFI, a leading finishing consultant, will talk about knowledge power versus tribal knowledge in creating a finishing system at the IWF Finishing Symposium, August 21, 2018 in the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, the day before IWF exhibits open.

AWFI regularly holds Industrial Wood Finishing and Advanced Industrial Wood Finishing training courses.

Industrial Wood Finishing is a two-day workshop AWFI holds that is designed to provide the essentials of fine wood finishing and give valuable hands-on experience in solving challenging wood finishing problems.

Advanced Industrial Wood Finishing applies to finishing foreman. AWFI can provide training for a foreman in this comprehensive learning experience. This seminar covers all the elements of wood finishing to position an employee to oversee a finishing department with confidence.

At the IWF Finishing Symposium, Phil Stevenson will discuss establishing a finishing system in your company, setting up finishing standards, performance measurements and developing training.
The full-day event will look at new technologies and best methods that finishers could use in their business. Newer finishes such as polyester, polyurethane and UV finishes will be discussed, along with water-borne and low-emission products.

This symposium includes a number of presentations and an opportunity to talk to suppliers and finishing experts face-to-face with your questions.


The IWF Finishing Symposium is sponsored by Fuji Spray, Gemini Industries and Milesi Wood Coatings.


Technology and the Human Hand: Are We Losing Touch? - Part 3

31. July 2018 09:05

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Designer: ScottGrove.com

My question is, if I cut a perfect dovetail by hand, then is using a machine instead okay? Am I still a fine craftsman? Possibly more important questions are: Is machine-quality better than handmade quality? Do our patrons care? Does the public appreciate handmade work? Are they losing touch with real craftsmanship? What is more valuable (and/or satisfying)? A perfectly hand cut mortise joint or a perfectly machined one? A symmetrically hand-carved texture or a similar one created by a machine?

More than ever it seems to me that true craftsmen are responsible for educating our clients on how pieces are made. But how much hands-on is handmade anyhow? I can have a machine spit out all my parts and I simply glue them together with some hand sanding and a little futzing, say 10% handwork. Is it still handmade? 

Obviously there are more questions than clear answers here. But one thing is for sure: Technology is here to stay and will keep advancing, helping us to become faster and more accurate, work more quickly and more cost effectively. The technological craftsman is a reality and our trade is splintering in two.

The dilemma is: How to use technology without losing touch with our craftsmanship? Or is that just cheating?  Be a part of the conversation at the IWF Conference on Wednesday, August 22nd from 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM.

For a 9 minute TedX talk overview of this discussion, please visit https://imaginegrove.com/

Scott Grove, ScottGrove.com ImagineGrove.com


Take it Outside!

30. July 2018 08:43

By: Ralph Bagnall, Woodworking Consultant, Author and TV Host: Consulting Woodworker.com

You want to shoot quality, compelling video to help market your products or business, but let’s face it, your shop is not a studio. It can be tough in a working facility to stage shots that frame the subject well and provide proper lighting. Taking it outside can be an option!

Nothing is better for shooting video than natural light, it is what all the expensive lights and filters are trying to replicate. And cloudy days are actually better than strong sunlight because the light is diffused and shadows are greatly reduced. The outdoors can often provide a pleasant background too. Flowers or trees in bloom, hedges and even just a lawn can help frame your subject and make your video shine. Note the complete lack of shadows in this photo. Keeping the dripping water from the steam box out of the shop is just a bonus added to a great photo that required no electric lights at all.

I have a small shop and have dedicated it to filming as much as woodworking. But there have been many times when my “studio” set up simply does not have the room needed to shoot a large piece. Take it outside and suddenly your studio is literally as big as all outdoors. Chances are pretty good that your production facility does not easily lend itself to stunning video shoots. A walk outdoors and a bit of imagination may make all the difference.

Learn more during Ralph's session "Video that Works" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.


#Shelfie: Floating Shelves for Modern Style & Open Organization

30. July 2018 08:29

With the popularity of airy, open spaces, floating shelves have proven themselves as a go-to option for open storage & display. Floating shelves are the perfect component for keeping office supplies within arm’s reach, for displaying your favorite wine glasses in a wet bar, or for making walk-in closet wall art out of your favorite heels. Floating gracefully (pun intended!) between storage and style, floating shelves add modern flair to any space.

Floating shelves can come in a variety of materials with many different mounting options. Northern Contours floating shelves have a miter folded construction for strong, modern lines and an internal bracket that’s hidden when mounted. Available in our 3D Laminate, Wood Veneer and High Gloss Wired materials, there are dozens of colors and finish options to choose from. Floating shelf accessories may match or contrast adjacent cabinetry, and both design options are popular choices for Home Organization spaces.

When choosing floating shelves for display or utility, it’s important to keep manufacturer specifications in mind when it comes to weight and installation of the shelves. For safety and the integrity of the shelves, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation in wall studs with the proper anchors, and take note of the recommended load per lineal foot.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of decorative or display shelves! In a wet bar, use floating shelves to display your favorite glasses and utilize the countertop for ice bucket and heavier bottles of spirits. In a walk-in closet, display your favorite handbags, heels, and hats, and save the ski gear for the closet. By finding the right balance of style and organization, you’ll get the most out of your floating shelves.

Join Michele Weitzel for her presentation “What’s Trending in Colors and Textures” at the IWF 2018 Closets Symposium to learn more about Floating Shelves from Northern Contours.

About Northern Contours

Northern Contours is a cabinet door and components manufacturer with over 25 years of industry experience. We serve a variety of customers on a custom and volume basis in Kitchen & Bath, Home Organization, Commercial Furniture, and Refacing markets. Manufacturing expertise in membrane pressing, miter folding, laminating & edgebanding, machining & routing, and 5-piece door assembly. We operate six facilities throughout the US and Canada for full coverage of North America.



Free Urban Wood Seminar Set for IWF 2018

30. July 2018 08:26

The urban wood movement is preparing to charge into Atlanta for an encore performance at the International Woodworking Fair.

The newly formed Urban Wood Network is organizing a free 90-minute seminar, “The Urban Wood Movement Is Now! Come Join the Movement,” 1:00 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24 at the Georgia World Congress Center. Wood-Mizer, a leading manufacturer of portable sawmills and other wood processing equipment, is the major sponsor of this unique program.

More than 130 people registered for the first urban wood utilization seminar held during IWF 2016. This year’s session will highlight the national momentum of the urban wood movement by bringing together representatives of newly formed groups in the Southeast, Midwest and West Coast.

Each of the presenters will discuss his or her personal passions and experiences of creating products and profits by utilizing landscape and other urban forest trees felled by disease, storm damage, old age and other causes. Each of the presentations will shed light on opportunities to repurpose urban wood otherwise destined for the chipper or landfill to make high-quality lumber, slabs, furniture, flooring and other wood products.

Attendees of this free session will learn:

• The unique source local/buy local marketing appeal of urban wood products and the interesting stories they tell.
• The environmental advantages of
utilizing urban wood.
• How to find local sources of urban wood.
• How to join or start a local urban wood network.
• An opportunity to get answers to your questions from our expert panel.

Panelists include:
Jennifer Alger is CEO of Far West Forest Products of Sheridan, CA, a family-owned business that actively works to promote the use of local native species and underutilized logs including reclaimed urban wood. For almost two decades she has been a regional representative for Wood-Mizer portable sawmills. She has presented at several urban log and lumber utilization workshops and seminars focused on marketing, growing and operating a small sawmill business. Most recently Jennifer has formed and is the president of Urban Salvaged and Reclaimed Woods Inc., the West Coast’s first urban lumber trade network


Engagement Starts Before They Walk Through the Door

26. July 2018 08:44

By: John Broer, In2Great

Think about all those future employees whom you haven’t even met.  It’s hard to do but it is absolutely necessary to think about the impression you make to prospective employees as a potential employer.  That’s where we begin to look at Employer Branding as a best practice within our companies. It’s the strategy you use to position and promote your company to a desired target audience.  In order to do that, a company has to have a pretty good idea of what kind of culture it wants to cultivate and offer up to its future associates. The challenge sets in when companies promote one type of culture and a new hire finds something entirely different.  For example, a company may present itself as being very forward-thinking and progressive when it comes to employee development and cultural diversity - a progressive climate that encourages creativity and innovation. Who wouldn’t want to work there? All to often, though, companies present this attractive image that really isn’t representative of their work environment and when new hires realize this, they make for the door and look for a place that is more to their liking.  It is because of this that companies need to be realistic about what they offer as a place of employment. If it isn’t desirable, then improvements are in order and once those are made, then the company needs to brand itself by highlighting and promoting those qualities. Employer Branding begins with clearly understanding “why” the organization exists, what it does, and how it offers up its unique services and/or products. That messaging and “brand” is promoted to the marketplace in order to differentiate it from the competition and attract the right type of talent.  
Interview process
Companies can make their efforts during the hiring and recruiting steps much more effective by making sure that the words and language they use within their job descriptions are reflective of the kinds of drives, qualities, and traits they need in a person who occupies that role.  For example, if the position requires a high level of client interaction and for someone to be very relational and able to connect with customers naturally and quickly, you are likely to attract candidates that really enjoy that. Another example may involve a position that requires a person to work at a predictable and steady pace and the ability to work within a given structure with very little deviation.  While this does not guarantee that people who are not a good match will apply for the position, we can at least employ analytics to understand their natural drives and help us know if they are not a good fit and perhaps find a role for which they are better suited. Much time is wasted in the interview process on candidates that are not a good fit for the position. Using the right language in the job description along with understanding the analytics of their natural drives will save our recruiters time, frustration, and the chance for a bad hire.
So you’ve found a great candidate and they have accepted your offer.  Now we just wait for them to show up for their first day, right? Wrong.  Depending on the nature of the job and your particular situation, there are a number of things you can do before the actual onboarding process.  Bear in mind that their time may be limited because they are wrapping up with their soon-to-be former employer. Still, here are some things to consider sharing with them prior to “Day 1”:

  • Any history or background about the company.  You can start to build their awareness of the vision, culture, and core values of your company.  Written materials are fine but very effective messaging can be made in a short professional video from senior executives.
  • A welcome message from the hiring manager can initiate a positive connection and establish some early expectations.  Similar messages from team members can create an early sense of camaraderie.
  • Providing their onboarding schedule.  Depending on the position, mapping out the first one or two weeks lets a new hire know that their new employer is thinking ahead and preparing them for success.

Your “brand” as an employer speaks volumes to prospective employees either positively or negatively.  When you invest the time, resources, and analytics to create a place where the right people will find the right fit, you can expect better results in retention and performance. 

Learn more about this topic during John's presentation at the "Countertops & Architectural Surfaces Symposium" at the IWF 2018 Educaiton Conference.



“Building a Successful Team” Part III

26. July 2018 08:40

By: Gary F. Vitale: GFV Business Advisory
Building a successful team takes time.  It also takes persistence and a commitment on the part of leadership to ensure the process is ongoing and not a one and done philosophy.  The only way to make this happen is to set aside time for feedback and reflection and have a persistent and consistent approach to building a team culture in the organization.

Feedback and Reflection

Successful teams set aside time for regular feedback and reflection.  Why, because it works and enables the team to continue to improve and perform at a high level.  Sports teams have mastered the art of feedback and reflection.  They have been generating performance improvement statistics for years.  They keep charts on everything and review them after every game, during practice, and again before every game.  Most businesses however use feedback and reflection on a sporadic basis.  Feedback more than reflection, but even then, many companies don’t take full advantage of the information they receive.  To understand why setting aside time for feedback and reflection is important, let’s do a quick analysis of each.

The term “feedback” describes helpful information about a prior action that is used to adjust or improve future actions.  Feedback occurs when an environment reacts to an action or behavior.  We are all familiar with customer feedback and employee performance feedback.  These types of feedback are used to measure performance expected verses performance exhibited.  So then, who would dispute that feedback is a good thing?

Common sense and research make clear that feedback and opportunities to use that feedback helps to improve and enhance performance.  Feedback, both positive and negative, is valuable information that should be used to make important decisions.  Top performing teams and companies are top performing teams and companies because they consistently search for ways to make their best even better.  They are not only good at accepting feedback; they deliberately seek feedback that highlights the good and the bad.  This has two benefits, first it provides a foundation for decision making and second, it provides a platform to build and maintain communications with others.

Reflection is a simple but powerful task.  It involves taking some time to calm down and reflect on your actions.  When building teams, reflection is done by each team member individually and then shared with the team.  In the working paper Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance, Professors Francesca Gino and Gary Pisano of Harvard Business School show how reflecting on what we have done teaches us to do it more effectively the next time around.

The researchers hypothesized that learning by doing would be more effective if deliberately coupled with learning by thinking.  They also hypothesized that sharing information with others would improve the learning process.  The experiment involved three groups.  Each group was given the same problem to solve.  One group just learned by doing, one group learned by doing and then reflected and took notes on their strategies used to solve the problem, and one group learned by doing, reflected on their strategies and then shared their notes with future participants.  Each group was then given a second round of problems to solve.

The results showed that the reflection and the reflection and sharing groups performed almost 20% better on the second round of problems than the first group that just learned by doing and then just took on the second group of problems without reflecting on their strategies for solving the first problem.  The two reflection groups also were given less time to spend on solving the problems.  They were told to stop 15 minutes prior to the learning by doing group to allow for reflection.  Think about this, they worked less and performed better.

There are not a lot of companies that encourage their employees to reflect, or give them time to do it.  But in terms of working smarter, research suggests taking time for reflection can improve team and company performance.

Given the information available on the benefits of feedback and reflection, and the positive impact they have on individual, team and company performance, it is imperative that we try and develop a company culture where feedback and reflection are the norm.  Make it part of your regular routine and watch your teams and company flourish.


Lean Manufacturing Requires Top Management Commitment - Top Management’s Role in a Lean Manufacturing Transformation

26. July 2018 08:37

The failure of companies to successfully implement ‘lean manufacturing’ is widely known, with some estimating that 50% to 90% of all efforts fail.

Much has been written and reviewed regarding the root cause of these failures. I will instead focus on one company’s successful implementation.

My employer was a wholly owned subsidiary of a much larger corporation.  The product does not contain complicated technology; the complexity is in the breadth of the product offering.  This is a build to order business, where the main product line had several hundred thousand possible configurations (now over 1 million), lead times from order to ship of ten days with no minimum/maximum order quantity. 

The year before we began our lean implementation, the company generated $5.6 million in net profit after tax on sales of $83 million.  Three years later the average revenue per unit had decreased 25% (volume increased from 7,000 to 10,000 per week), labor cost per hour increased 11%, sales increased to $90 million and net profit after tax increased to $12.6 million.  That’s not a typo, sales up 8%, price per unit down 25%, labor cost up 8% and net profit after tax as a percent of sales up 100%. Profit continued to increase each year as the TPS journey continued.

None of the more common business solutions were implemented, manufacturing did not relocate off shore, only one process was automated, there were no layoffs or outsourcing.

Twenty years later the entire corporation still embraces lean manufacturing while their competitors are moving manufacturing offshore and/or pursuing the traditional approaches to cost cutting. The competitive advantage is significant. The top manufacturing executive at a major competitor once told me “we’ve done lean” but several years later began moving operations to Mexico. A sales executive at another competitor complained of losing business to my former employer due to a price difference of 30%.

This effort to begin the lean journey began in April 1994, when the executives responsible for the subsidiary first learned of the Toyota Production System as a result of touring TMMK in Georgetown, KY. They were impressed with what they observed and began reaching out to Toyota in an attempt to gain some type of support in implementing lean manufacturing.  After many attempts, about a year later Toyota suggested our company send two managers to a local Toyota supplier for six months to learn TPS at that location.  I was a manufacturing manager responsible for about one third of the operation at the time and was one of the people who accepted the assignment.  The other was the manager of our manufacturing engineering group. 

We learned early in the assignment this was our full time role for six months.  Our positions were temporarily backfilled and we were not to return to our positions (or the plant) until the assignment was complete. During that time we were fully immersed in transforming one manufacturing cell, working with the local kaizen team.  Upon returning to our company, I become responsible for organizing and leading our own kaizen team.

Three additional people from inside our organization were assigned to the team and we were given all necessary tools and resources. These three individuals were highly valued in the company, a manufacturing engineer, another manufacturing manager and a manager of engineering responsible for technical services.

 During our time at the Toyota supplier we were fortunate enough to meet several people from the Toyota Supplier Support Center and attend one of their workshops.  After beginning our own transformation we had many questions and contacted them for advice. It was suggested our executives write another request for assistance. 

An excerpt from the letter;

“As we consider our path for growth, we see many similarities with where we are today and where GHSP was three years ago.  We are quickly outgrowing our plant space and machine capacity and manage to meet decreasing customer lead times only by increasing inventory.  We have, however, made an intentional decision not to add equipment or building.  Through implementing the disciplines within TPS, we believe equipment capacity will increase, the need for plant expansion will be eliminated, and service to our customers will improve.  Our goal is to reduce our lead time from one week to twenty-four hours.”
Fortunately, we were soon visited by TSSC and were given three ‘homework assignments’ to test the company’s resolve.

  • Eliminate the work in process (WIP) between frame welding and cabinet welding, about 1200 pieces (one day supply)
  • Put all metal components from our stamping lines in small containers that could be lifted by one person (parts were in large tubs at the time, sometimes over 1000 pieces per tub, requiring forklifts to move).  For some parts there would be only twenty in a small container, which would take 20 seconds to produce.
  • Combine the two assembly lines and four low volume assembly cells into one line, three meters long, with four people.  There were over 100 people across three shifts in that products assembly area at the time!

We were to keep TSSC informed of our progress and were also permitted to ask questions as necessary to assist us in this work. 
Great progress was made on eliminating the WIP and moving to small containers, but we had no idea how to begin work on the third assignment.  In July of that year TSSC agreed to support us in this effort.

Two years of effort was required to secure support from Toyota for our lean effort.  This required determination from the executive team to continue pursuing assistance for that entire period of time, dedicating two full time resources for six months in an effort to develop our own in house ability, dedicating other full time resources to begin the journey, and following up on the ‘homework’ to prove their commitment to TSSC.

The level of commitment required to gain the assistance of Toyota in the lean journey;

  • Two years of effort to gain support
  • Two department managers on full time temporary assignment offsite to learn TPS for six months
  • Four people dedicated to implementing TPS prior to gaining outside support

The work with TSSC began with focusing on the assembly department. The typical lean tools were used to balance the line to takt time. However, will all the effort to balance and kaizen the line it did not meet the production objectives without overtime.  We implemented many lean tools and were in a constant state of motion kaizen. Team members were trained, line leaders   were trained, supervisors were trained, and the union committee was trained. 

We learned training will not solve the problem. TSSC did not provide solutions to our problems but instead worked to develop our ability to find solutions on our own. Learning by doing enabled us to find solutions to each problem. This is when we began the long journey of seeing the problems that were preventing success and finding ways to solve them. After many years in operation, we did not recognize all the problems that our team members had to work through every minute of their work day.
Some of the problems:

  • Quality defects from the paint line and other internal suppliers
  • Part shortages
  • Parts mis-identified
  • Ergonomic problems, including ‘hard’ work
  • Poor tool/equipment reliability
  • Product build information not presented in an easy to use format (for the most part team members had to remember how to build every product configuration, which was virtually impossible as the product line expanded)
  • Congestion
  • Large lot sizes ran better than small orders due to material and information flow so small orders were left incomplete.
  • Team members arrive at line late after break, leave early before break
  • Team member periodic struggle causes short term delay that propagates through the line/area/plant.

Even with all these problems, and more, this company was profitable. However, if it continued with the original manufacturing methods investments in equipment, floor space, containers, racking, etc. were required due to increased unit volume.

The solution was to continue to work on eliminating the problems. It is hard work and people can become discouraged.  In this case, we stayed on the path, following the philosophies and principles of TPS and implemented technical tools that were appropriate for the current condition.

Problem solving ability was developed by working to eliminate each of the issues that prevented success one at a time. Initially it was thought that TPS was creating these problems, but these were longstanding issues that were simply exposed as the lean journey made progress.

The focus went well beyond implementing technical tools, but of course the tools had to be used. Heijunka, or production smoothing, is one of the foundations of lean manufacturing, but many practitioners overlook or skip this step. They find it difficult to level schedules when customers don’t order in a level manner or when factory lead time makes it difficult. Lean implementation without including leveling may yield some results but will not achieve the level of improvement realized in this example. We had to think deeply about the obstacles, find what was preventing us from being able to level and address each problem one at a time.

The first obstacle was a paradigm that orders could not be leveled.  It was believed that production schedules had to vary daily as customer demand varied, perhaps not exactly but we could certainly not schedule the same quantity every day.  In reality daily production could be scheduled for the same overall quantity every day because the factory needed 62 hours to produce a product but the order to ship lead time was 10 days. This was achieved by determining an appropriate daily quantity and the production sequence was simply oldest due date first.

If increases in customer order volume created a risk of late shipments we scheduled daily overtime to absorb the spike in volume. This allowed us to notify team members in advance rather than the typical practice of informing them of overtime the day before. We also analyzed the volume projections to determine if an increase in the level production target was necessary.
If customer order volume dropped we continued to produce at the level volume until the line needed to be stopped for a day or two.  This almost never actually occurred, new orders would be produced as they were received in this case.

None of the operations I have worked with easily adopted this concept, including plants within this same corporation. They struggle with an apparent conflict with ‘the seven wastes’ and their traditional thinking. In this example, while we struggled with the concept, we knew through experience that following the principles of TPS was the correct path to follow.

First requirement
Senior executives have to be committed to lean manufacturing. In this example the entire executive team actively supported gaining assistance from Toyota, enlisting key internal people in the effort and providing enough human and financial resources for as long as required. 
Second requirement
Adequate internal human resources need to be allocated. The financial payback in this example was $7,000,000 per year after tax (increasing annually) at a cost of less than $300,000 per year (pre-tax) for the kaizen team. At that time TSSC did not charge for their support, however, with outside support estimated to cost $250,000 per year the ROI is still extremely positive. 
Too often, companies attempt to implement lean by having employees with full time responsibilities assigned to the ‘lean project’. I have had clients assign this to only the plant manager or some other unlucky individual without any relief of their existing duties. It should come as no surprise that these efforts failed.

Until the culture has matured to the point where lean manufacturing is truly the way of doing business the need for dedicated people exists. 

Third requirement
Follow the principles, philosophies and technical tools of lean manufacturing.  It is a complete system, don’t attempt to choose which to follow and which to change or neglect.


The Impact of Leadership on Team Building

25. July 2018 14:58

By: Gary Vitale: GFV Business Advisory

Though there are countless athletic coaches we can point to when looking at how leaders form teams, one of the earliest advocates of teamwork in business was Henry Ford.  Prior to the Ford Motor Company implementing the assembly line, automobiles were built by highly skilled craftsmen in isolation from start to finish.  Needless to say, output was very slow.  Ford realized that by individuals working on an individual task and then passing their product on to the next individual to build upon, and repeating the process over and over, the overall process could be improved dramatically.  Through working as a team, Ford was able to reduce the time it took to build a car from weeks to just six hours.

Teamwork is critical if you want to efficiently achieve a vision.  But putting the team together is only the beginning.  As Henry Ford used to say, “Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”  Ford demonstrated the principle Together Everyone Achieves More.

The success of a team is dependent upon every person within that team achieving what’s required of them.  To do that the leader needs to ensure that they come together, stay together, and work together.  When teams gel cohesively, great things happen.  The whole team needs to put in effort to achieve a vision.  Good leaders take this task very seriously and follow a few simple rules.

  1. They make sure team members get to know each other personally and professionally
  2. They combat silo mentality
  3. They work with the team to agree on the rules governing the team
    1. 100% of the team must commit to the rules
    2. The leader must retain the right to veto a team rule
  4. They make sure everyone is pulling their weight

The leadership role is critical to the team working together.  Putting the team together, assigning the task or project, defining the rules and then walking away and hoping for success is a recipe for failure.