Lean Six Sigma

Lean manufacturing transforms Wisconsin maker of U.S. Navy warships

By Andrea Shalal for Reuters

Sep 08, 2015

Big investments, lean manufacturing techniques borrowed from the automotive industry, and a more engaged workforce have revamped the Wisconsin shipyard where Italy's Fincantieri SpA builds the Freedom variant of the U.S. Navy's coastal warships for prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.

Jan Allman, who took over as president of Marinette Marine last year after nearly three decades in the automotive and truck business, walks the 550,000-square-foot (51,097-square-meter) shipyard every day, gathering tips from workers about how to improve production.

Last month, Allman told Reuters, one worker told her she had saved hundreds of dollars a month by handing out only a small amount of titanium grease for workers' daily use instead of a full $20 can that would be thrown away at the end of the day.

"Every penny adds up," said Allman, who drew on her automotive industry experience to help draft new written guiding principles for the shipyard that emphasize continuous improvement and urge workers to spend money as if it were their own.

Read more about Allman's work at this state-of-the-art shipyard.