Less is More

Pipestone Flyer

A panel of experts on "getting Lean" in your business fielded questions from both the moderator and the audience at February's EDA Breakfast.

    The February EDA breakfast was a very topical one for many businesses, covering many aspects of the ways a company can "go lean". 

    With a panel of speakers which included Ron Subramanian the Director of Energy Connections for Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Mark Burggren President of Alberta Manufacturing Solutions Inc., Marcel Claveau Vice President of Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement, Chantal Woitas General Manager for Freudenberg Oil, and Lori Schmidt CEO of Productivity Alberta, the expertise in the room was pretty impressive. The morning's program was moderated by Tom Mansfield Director of Metal Manufacturing Industrial Development for Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education.

    Tom began the discussion by stating that for industry to grow and succeed they need to understand lean concepts and thinking. A business owner once confided to him that the thing that keeps him awake at night is how much he has left on the table in years past.

Mark gave the example of Toyota using lean manufacturing principles to break the stranglehold of the big three auto manufacturers. He then spoke of a "real life example" of a local company that had doubled their output with no extra cost by implementing lean manufacturing initiatives.     

    Marcel said that the first thing people think of when you use the phrase "going lean" is that jobs are going to be lost. "Absolutely not true." he says. "You simply make things more efficient so waste is reduced and production is increased which equals happier customers and safe jobs." He continued on to point out that the biggest job in this process is sustainability. "It's easy to grab the low hanging fruit and then rest but this is a continuous process. Attitude comes from the top, and making workers feel good about themselves also makes them feel good about the company." 

    Ron spoke of how close most manufacturing companies often run to the profit line. He said that nothing he does now comes close to the stress level of when he worked in manufacturing. He shared a statistic that most manufacturing companies are just covering costs for the first 7 hours and 53 minutes of an 8 hour work day and the profits are made in the final 6-7 minutes. "When companies are reactive they are simply developing band aid solutions to problems that present themselves. Companies have to to become strategic and learn to look long term. The biggest question is how to become strategic. 

    Mark said that becoming strategic is simple but not easy. "You must compartmentalism your life. Make a plan and just do it. You say to yourself 'First I'm going to wrestle alligators, and then I'm going to drain the swamp.'"

    On the actual process of becoming lean, Marcel stated that "We don't make a lot of widgets in Alberta, so how do you lean that? You get back to basics. You go through your business and lean each component individually." 

    Chantal shared that when her company went lean in 2005 most of the employees were very suspicious of the process, but she said that most of those people were still on board today.

Mark stated that "Cynicism runs deep on the production room floor but the buy in will come when the employees see the job security and improved safety in the workplace the new workflow creates."

    Summing up the lean principles the panel had been discussing, Marcel said "The only way we can compete is to become more efficient. We have to reduce costs to remain competitive in the marketplace. This is how Alberta companies can stay relevant."

Just Posted

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Sabrina Wilde in front of a recently purchased monster truck. Submitted.
Thorsby business women a finalist for 2021 Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurship Award

Sabrina Wilde with Lone Wolf Mechanical is a finalist for the entrepreneurial award.

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for the G7 Summit, at the airport in Newquay, United Kingdom, Thursday, June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Details on Canada’s vaccine sharing plan coming Sunday, up to 100 million doses

Canada’s high commissioner to the UK says details will come after the G7 summit

Conservative MP Tom Kmiec waves to the crowd during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Newborn daughter’s death inspires MP’s bill on bereavement leave for parents

Conservative MP Tom Kmiec says a day or two off not enough for some grieving parents

Most Read