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."

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer
City of Wetaskiwin cases rapidly climbing

City of Wetaskiwin reporting 11 active cases of COVID-19

Photo submitted/ Rita-anne Fuss
Distancing Diamond Project in Millet for mental health

Distancing Diamonds allow for social distancing community gathering.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

The death of 19-year-old Jacob Michael Chitze of Edmonton has now been ruled a homicide following an ongoing RCMP investigation.
UPDATE: RCMP arrest youth for second degree murder of 19-year-old Jacob Chitze

Arrest made for the murder of Jacob Michael Chitze, 19.

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join AUPE walk outs across the province Monday Oct. 26, 2020. Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer.
City of Wetaskiwin health-care workers strike in protest of province-wide cuts

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join other front line hospital workers across the province in walk-outs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Alberta’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. The Alberta government is hoping to get more Albertans employed by moving to limit the number and type of temporary foreign workers it allows into the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta to limit temporary foreign worker program to save jobs for Albertans

Temporary foreign workers already in the province won’t be affected

(Emily Jaycox/Bashaw Star)
Wreath laying ceremony held in Manfred, Alta.

Ceremony marks 64th anniversary of Hungarian revolution, honours settlers

Submitted
Montana First Nations councillor gives back to youth

By Chevi Rabbit For Ponoka News Reggie Rabbit is a newly elected… Continue reading

Most Read