2009 New Year’s Resolution: Lean Manufacturing

In seeking a way to continually improve our wheelchair vans and wheelchair lifts here at BraunAbility, last August we started a new initiative that turns conventional manufacturing on its head: Lean Manufacturing.

Okay, well, first things first. After the holidays and with New Years resolutions still viable, yes there are several of us here that have begun hitting the gym again and watching what they eat–myself included! But the lean I’m going to discuss in this post is about “Lean Manufacturing.”

BraunLean lean manufacturingBrought into mainstream light by the Toyota Corporation, Lean Manufacturing places the importance of manufacturing on three very basic principles: Continuous Improvement, Customer First and Respect for People. Everything we do here should be reflective of these three principles.

Contracting the Los Angeles Based firm Lean Quest to lead us on our journey, BraunAbility dedicated 27 people to a “Lean Team” from various departments, including maintenance, IS, engineering, product support, material handlers and upper management.

Why are we adopting Lean Manufacturing processes? Well, as with everything else, times are changing and the manufacturing world has changed as well. In order to stay cutting edge, innovative and the industry leader, we have to continually improve not only our handicap vans and wheelchair lifts, but also ourselves. Without continuous improvement, we run the risk of standing still–and in anything you do anymore, if you stand still for too long you’re going to get passed by.

So that’s just a brief introduction to Lean Manufacturing. In my next post, I’ll discuss how lean affects the people involved: our customers and employees.