Last week’s AXUG Summit in St. Louis was a great opportunity to check in on the state of lean in the Dynamics AX community and beyond. Some perspectives: Manufacturers with lots of variation and complexity are struggling with lean manufacturing. I’ve been saying this for a long time and this week’s conversations continue to confirm it. The vast majority of manufacturers are high mix/low volume. Most have some lean initiatives going on—some for more than 10 years. At the same time, I had several mealtime conversations where I had to introduce even the most basic concepts of what “this lean stuff” is all about. We have our work cut out for us, and lots of opportunity to make a huge difference.
Here are some responses as I introduced our approach to deal with complexity using technology and our Areteium lean transformation toolkit.
- A large regional finance/audit firm with a lean practice invited us to present to their partners and key CEO’s from companies in the manufacturing industry that they serve. None of them had ever seen anything comparable to what we are able to do with lean using a technology assist. The integration of value stream mapping with the ability to monetize the value stream performance using lean accounting was very appealing. On my end, it’s encouraging to meet a partner at a financial firm who embraces lean accounting as best practice.
- A lean expert in an internal lean initiative at a multi-billion dollar manufacturing organization. The individual is very much a leader in people-focused lean. He reflected on his lean start in 2004 and has been waiting to see technology that embeds a truly lean philosophy—one that is both mature and comprehensive.
- A VP of Operations who has recently implemented lean with Dynamics AX found that using technology to enforce operational disciplines and reinforce lean behavior has afforded him substantial benefits that he otherwise wouldn’t have been able to achieve with purely manual lean methods. He’s greatly benefited from just establishing base level process stability; he is now positioned to drive much higher levels of performance, not only from higher profit from waste elimination and lower inventory but in gaining market share.
- An ERP expert with 40+ years of experience in MRP and Master Scheduling immediately saw the breakthrough with dynamic value streams, as well as the ability to easily manage what-ifs in a way that no ERP can handle.
- A Supply Chain MBA who will go back to his B-school profs with the message that technology can assist lean, which can help sell today’s tech-savvy students on the importance of learning lean.
These are just a few of many contacts from a very busy week. Next week is a webinar on lean and then it’s on to the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) conference in Jacksonville in November with the same message. AME is the largest lean conference in the world. We’ll be the only “lean with technology” organization exhibiting. Stop by our booth and let us show you what we do or contact us today for more information.
Phil Coy @leaniac Managing Director of Strategic Services