Lean Thinking Strategies

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Pratt and Whitney engineers developed a perfect system that cut down the grinding time of blades from 84 minutes to 3 minutes. However, the system was inconvenient for customers who preferred to have many types of blades as opposed to a large quantity of similar blades. Following a $283 million loss in 1992, the management decided to implement changes to turn around the companys fortunes.

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Fortunes at UTC were on a decline after the boom in commercial jet engines dipped. Mark Coran identified the problem and resolved to adopt lean thinking strategies. The attempt to resolve the turmoil at the firm using lean thinking was the acid test. Coran hired Bob DAmore who brought with him experience of the application of lean principles at Harley-Davidson during their turn around period in the 1980s. DAmore was responsible for going through every production activity at Pratt and converting it into a constant and efficient flow. Senseis Iwata and Nakao were contracted from under General Electric. George David, the new executive at UTC and a lean thinker, hired Karl Krapek as Pratts president. Krapek was also a lean thinker. Krapek downsized to a sustainable number of employees for the long term. Ed Northern, hired from General Electric, eliminated the monument Brohm machine and swapped with a lean system that significantly reduced the number of employees. Karl Krapek additionally cut down the organizational chart to product development component centers and operation module centers.

How Porsche produced a Defect-free Car

Porsche were faced with a crisis due to decline in sales that significantly affected their earnings. The problem lay in various stages of their production process that were identified and eliminated by lean thinking strategies. Wendelin Wiedeking was brought in and his first step was to make managers read The Machine that Changed the World. Wiedeking made a trip to japan where he negotiated a deal with Chihiro Nakao to implement lean thinking at Volkswagen. The layers of managers was reduced from 6 to 4 and Wiedeking proved that errors were significantly reduced by 10 to 1000 times by early detection and fixing. Nakao turned a warehouse into a factory and the number of employees and suppliers was cut down with a streamlined production process.

Contribution of Highly Skilled Craftsmen to Lean Enterprise

Highly skilled craftsmen can contribute to lean enterprise by developing high quality products that are cost efficient in the best time possible. In addition, the artisans can identify better ways of improving the production process and cutting down on costs of production.

Showa Manufacturing

Showa Manufacturing was able to reduce inventory, floor space, human effort and throughput time by the implementation of lean thinking strategies that were implemented by Ohno. The first step involved moving to small lot production and producing only what was required in the next step of production. This strategy enabled the reduction of three-month inventory time to only a few days. Coil making and assembly was converted from a batch process to a single piece flow by creating a cell for the pipe cutting, fin press, expansion, cleaning, brazing, leak testing and final assembly. This reduced floor space significantly and the labor used to carry out the process. Throughput time was reduced by the incorporation of new designed machines that would change from one coil design to another in a few minutes before getting back to operations. The improvement activity was justified by its reduction of production costs, time and increased efficiency.


Womack, J. P., & Jones, D. T. (2003). Lean thinking: Banish waste and create wealth in your corporation. New York, NY: Free Press.

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