Learning lean practices at AME Chicago 2012

I had the pleasure of attending AME Chicago 2012 last week. Despite the rather dreary weather, the atmosphere inside the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers was one of optimism, intrigue and camaraderie. Lean manufacturing is not a new concept, but rather an evolving mindset that takes time to implement and even more time to sustain, and the attendees bustling from one presentation to another were eager to learn from their peers' real-world experiences.

Here are just a few of the standout presentations that I attended.

You Say "Lean," I Think "Change"
Tina Dyer and Jeff Thurman

The lean journey can become overly focused on tools and methods. When that happens, you may do a poor job of preparing your teams to effectively manage change. Change can be difficult, and hidden fears can emerge during a lean initiative. Latent anxieties can make it hard to sustain the benefits of lean as employees gravitate back to their old, familiar ways of doing things. When this happens, you may need to slow the rate of progress and take some time to remind everyone of the benefits of lean.
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Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement Using A3s
Rich Maguire and Ben Wittich

When businesses have problems, they want solutions that work - but those aren't always easy to find. That's where the A3 process can help. It's an effective step-by-step process for analyzing problems, coming up with solutions and making the necessary changes. It's a process that Remcon Plastics has implemented very successfully. In fact, the company now has a culture of continuous improvement and leaders with greater problem-solving and coaching skills. If this sounds like something you could use, you'll want to hear how Remcon Plastic successfully implemented A3 for its business.
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Integrating Safety into Lean
Kim McDevitt

Safety should be part of every lean initiative. The benefits are numerous. Integrating safety into 5S programs lets you reduce risk while improving operating efficiency and productivity. Safety becomes embedded in the company culture. So, jumpstart a lagging lean implementation and use lean to maximize your safety processes and take lean to the next level.