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Auburn Technical Assistance Center (ATAC)

July 2011 Blog Posts (11)

Adapt to Economic and Technological Changes

Manufacturing has the potential to be part of the nation’s economic recovery and future.   In order to adapt to economic and technological changes, our manufacturing industry must make the decision to pursue constant innovation.   Two important criteria must be initiated:

1)       Streamline innovation and growth services targeted to manufacturing

All to often, U.S.  manufacturers,  and businesses in general, operate in silos that stymie collaboration.  Why is it…


Added by Walker Jackson on July 29, 2011 at 3:52pm — No Comments

Performance Management: Cascading Organizational Goals

As I mentioned last week, over the next few weeks I will do a number of installments on performance management practices, outlining some of the good and bad of a few of the more common practices, and providing some additional guidance on improving our current practices. The first method I would like to highlight is the popular practice of cascading organizational goals to individual employees, or sometimes known as Management by Objectives. 


The idea behind MBO is that top…


Added by Brian Flynn on July 25, 2011 at 5:00am — No Comments

Theoretical versus Practical - Practical Leadership Tips

Following the recent tsunami in Japan, many companies experienced a disruption in the supply chain, prompting a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. DeFeo, the CEO of Terex made the statement, “Just-in-time makes sense, but it's vulnerable to disruptions” (Aeppel, 2011).

Unfortunately, DeFeo didn’t… Continue

Added by David Hicks on July 25, 2011 at 3:00am — No Comments

Research Brief: Performance Management: Ideas and Critiques

Over the last 30 years or so a large quantity of research has accumulated on performance management. This research has led to the creation and adoption of a number of different performance management methods, tools and processes that should work well in organizations but for whatever reason have failed to be adopted or implemented correctly. For example, one of the most pervasive problems in performance management is leniency in ratings, which in extreme cases renders performance ratings…


Added by Brian Flynn on July 18, 2011 at 5:30am — No Comments

Root Cause Analysis

A few days ago, I ran across this article.  It was written by Randall Goodden, and his point is that sometimes root cause analysis might not provide the means for discovering potential product failures.  I guess I have found this to be true in process failures as well.  Even Dorian Shanin advocated that most complicated problems could not be solved through a brainstorming approach.  In any event, I thought this was interesting and sort of paralleled my thoughts about complex process…


Added by Mark M. Clark on July 15, 2011 at 3:48pm — No Comments

Lean Program Failures - Practical Leadership Tips

Just as children progress through development cycles as they mature, leaders also mature as their understanding grows.

In the history of lean implementations, we’ve seen a maturity progression from tools to systems, to thinking techniques. Our early understanding of lean was overwhelmed by the…


Added by David Hicks on July 15, 2011 at 9:20am — No Comments

Alabama's Manufacturing and Economic Development Report Card

Alabama’s manufacturing and industry health received a letter grade of “B” in a newly released study.  The 2011 Manufacturing and Logistics National Report grades each of the 50 states in areas of the economy that support the success of manufacturing and logistics.   The report is produced by Conexus Indiana and Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research.   The manufacturing category includes three metrics.  The share of total income earned by manufacturing employees…


Added by David Mixson on July 6, 2011 at 9:14am — No Comments

Gemba Walk Tips - Practical Leadership Tips


Terri Lawrence’s recent post titled “Grab your gemba shoes” highlighted the need to plan your gemba walk before you go.  In his new role as leader of the Lean Enterprise Institute, John Shook provided some tips on how to make your gemba walks effective.  He suggests that leaders should “Go See, Ask Why, and Show Respect.”  This approach turns the theoretical philosophy of Purpose, Process, & People into practical behaviors for leaders. …


Added by David Hicks on July 5, 2011 at 7:30am — No Comments

Calculating the Cost of Underperforming Employees

Have you ever wondered how much an underperforming employee really costs your organization? It seems logical that employees that fail to meet expectations cost us money, but it is another thing to actually demonstrate how to do that. I recently stumbled across an article by Wayne Cascio* and Robert Ramos that outlines a process by which one might be able to assess this cost. 


Here are the steps to doing this calculation:

  1. Step 1 is to do a thorough job analysis of…

Added by Brian Flynn on July 4, 2011 at 5:30am — No Comments

OEE Wowee - Practical Leadership Tips

If you’ve been around plants for very long, you’ve probably heard the term OEE. Overall Equipment Effectiveness is the product of Availability, Performance, and Quality measurements for a piece of equipment. Typical maintenance measurements only account for breakdown time, leaving out such problems as… Continue

Added by David Hicks on July 2, 2011 at 9:07am — No Comments

How Lean Increased the Standard Cost of a Product

If I said that the Standard Cost of a product increased from $55/unit to $63/unit after Lean Improvements, would you say that the Lean countermeasures were a failure?  In a Standard Cost Accounting world, I would agree with you---however, what if I said that;

  • Inventory was decreased 80%
  • Lead Time improved 75%
  • Customer On Time Delivery improved 24%
  • Batch Size decreased 95%
  • Square Footage decreased 50%
  • Quality improved…

Added by Rick Battye on July 1, 2011 at 2:58pm — No Comments

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