Volume 1 / Issue 18 / November 21, 2016
This is the Final Issue of the ATJ eLetter
This will be the last issue of the ATJ eLetter in this format as edited by Dave Hogg (me) since I will be retiring. What comes after? Well, that will not be up to me. There are discussions underway that you will hear about in January and as for Bev and I, we will be quietly retired in beautiful Penticton where we are now living.
What does one say after sharing in so many Lean happenings and best practices with each other for some 30 years? In this last issue, I want to share a few memories of significant things that especially impacted - well everyone frankly- and all thanks to the privilege I’ve had working with you.
The Significant Things
A new Lean world opened for me in 1983 after joining the Ontario Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (OCAM) which launched immediately after the second worst recession of 1981-82. The Centres’ no-nonsense vision, ‘To accelerate the effective utilization of advanced manufacturing technology, and the growth of supportive industries to improve industry productivity and competitiveness’ immediately caught my attention and I resigned as the Chair of the Technology Division at my college. This was a total game-changer that led to the founding of the HPM Consortium circa 1990 and continued to have impact across North America.
Yes, Lean’s impact was beginning in the early ‘80’s and introducing major changes to a small number of shop floors across Ontario. At that time it was called “Just in Time.” One of my first tasks as a program manager with OCAM was to make sense of what exactly it meant to be “World Class.” To find out, our applications people began flying to Japan, Taiwan, and the Hanover Fair. My job was to find examples of the best of the best in Ontario. Examples that illustrated what World Class looked like and that’s how Bob Kerr and I met while facilitating on-site tours of existing outstanding examples of excellence.
Early on, we visited the industrial fuse maker, Gould Shawmut that we had heard so much about. We were curious to find out how Gould Shawmut’s production quantities were increasing after having shut down one whole facility and about one third of their manufacturing space. Another attention grabber was the visual management in place that enabled an hourly employee to schedule their entire plant. I stood in wonder as we watched grown men assembling small Lego trucks at Gould Shawmut which I learned were used to teach the eight principles of Just in Time. Do you remember the Lego airplanes that helped to explain valuable Lean principles? Well, this was the start of all that! Many thousands throughout North America and Australia learned those principles in the years to come.
Bob and I formed HPS in 2000 thereby splicing one Senior Manufacturing Executive and skilled Tool and Die practitioner to one Electrical Engineer, Professor, and Technology Transfer Practitioner both of whom instantly chose to make their customer-focused vision: “To make a difference that matters.”
For more than a decade, we deployed the HPM Lean Consortium model that brought non-competing companies together across Canada and the US. And we will never forget the Australian folks who, to this day, still bring some twenty of their souls to visit our plants and attend the Association for Manufacturing Excellence’s International Lean Conference. After an audit by the Sloan Management Review in 1998, they proclaimed our Consortia to be ‘Leveraged Learning Networks’. (That name never stuck – although it is more accurate).