Wausau Equipment Company Case study Wausau Equipment Company has improved their operating profit a lot by introducing lean strategy. The management’s next step should be in making further Lean improvements. As we know, “SIMPA” is widely used in Lean process. “SIMPA” stands for Specify Value, Identify Value Stream, Make it Flow, Pull and Always Improving. These phases draw a big and long-term picture to lead a team logically from detecting the problems to solving the problems and make sure that the team can sustain the achievement and keep improving.
In this case, the lean project was planned to last 39 weeks, which was divided into three complete equipment-improvement-process cycles. The first cycle focused on getting tangible improvement results while the last two cycles focused on sustainability and improvement. We can see from this plan that keeps improving bulks large in Lean Process. Someone may ask why the team still needs to make further lean improvement since they’ve already finished the cycles and achieved the goal.
The answer is that there is always room for improvement. In my opinion, Wausau Equipment has at least three aspects need to be improved. Firstly, Wausau Equipment needs to make more changes to its culture. As it is known to all, enterprise’s culture is the basic impetus of development of enterprise. In some aspects, culture and management are more important than the actual tools and methodologies of production itself. Only if the culture absorbs the philosophy of lean, the achievement of Lean Project can sustain.
Stephen Shortell (Professor of Health Services Management and Organization Behavior- Berkeley University, California) states that “For improvement to flourish it must be carefully cultivated in a rich soil bed (a receptive organization), given constant attention (sustained leadership), assured the right amounts of light (training and support) and water (measurement and data) and protected from damaging. ” However, in this case, although the executive board had asked Steiger to develop a new action plan, there were still top-to-bottom skeptics. The Vice President of Operations Jim Patterson was an example.
He was reluctant to play an initial active leading role and give the team praise. On the other side, there was widespread low employee morale in Wausau. For such situation, my recommendation is listed below. 1, Wausau Equipment should customize Lean theory to their culture. Lean theory will challenge most of the traditional values. The natural reaction will be the resistance to change, not to mention that Wausau had a culture which was generally suspicious of change. Just as Kaizen theory mentions, Wausau Equipment should not expect a one-step change. The improvement should be gradual but continuing.
Wausau Equipment need to identify the value of both sides carefully and take the essence and discard the dregs. 2, Training and mentoring is indispensible for not only employees but also the executive board. The lean concept should be accepted by all people in the company. Employees should at least know what they are doing. The executives need to learn to make decision with lean philosophy. And they should be open to others new ideas. Secondly, Wausau Equipment needs to improve along with the demand of customer continuously. Lean aims at eliminating all the non-value added things.
And the value added things are things customers are willing to buy. Demand of customer is always changing. Improving the flow of material through new ideal system layouts at the customer’s required rate would reduce waste in material movement and inventory. In this case, increasing plant flexibility to meet variability in volume and mix demand has been one of the objectives of Wausau Equipment. They need to continue improving. What is more, Wausau Equipment should evaluate its product to balance the customers’ demand and the productivity of plants.
Because lean is about more than just cutting costs in the factory. It is said that one crucial insight is that most costs are assigned when a product is designed. Thirdly, the information system should be improved. Wausau should make not only material and people but also the information flow. It is mentioned in the case that the MSD organization did not have firsthand knowledge of the progress made. Most of the MSD organization remained unaware of what was going on in the production shops. The information gap will lead to misjudgment, improper plan and even the imbalance between demand and supply.
Thus information system strengthening should be in progress as soon as possible. There must be still many aspects that I did not realize need to be improve. A good lean manager will spare no effort to look for possibilities for improvement. Wausau Equipment should be in the lean process cycle and improve again and again. Work cited 1. “Lean” form Wikipedia, web, 5th Mar, 2011, http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Lean_manufacturing#Continuously_improve 2. “Thinking of Lean Manufacturing Systems”, By Akin O. Akinlawon, web, 5th Mar, 2011, ; http://www. sae. org/manufacturing/lean/column/leandec01. htm; 3. Practical Lean Accounting”, By Maskell ; Baggaley, Producivity Press, New York, 19th Dec, 2003, web, 5th Mar, 2011. ; http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Lean_manufacturing ; ——————————————– [ 1 ]. “Lean” form Wikipedia, web, 5th Mar, 2011, [ 2 ]. “Thinking of Lean Manufacturing Systems”, By Akin O. Akinlawon, web, 5th Mar, 2011, < http://www. sae. org/manufacturing/lean/column/leandec01. htm> [ 3 ]. “Practical Lean Accounting”, By Maskell & Baggaley, Producivity Press, New York, 19th Dec, 2003, web, 5th Mar, 2011. < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Lean_manufacturing >