Going lean is touted at manufacturing confab

Mike Bosma gives a presentation during the Sierra Region Manufacturers Conference on Wednesday.

Mike Bosma gives a presentation during the Sierra Region Manufacturers Conference on Wednesday.

Making manufacturing lean and communities less mean were two themes sounded Wednesday at the Sierra Region Manufacturers Conference in Carson City.

Ian Hill of The Changing Point and Gary Conner of Nevada Industry Excellence made points in morning presentations about growing manufacturing via change and improved systems, with Conner stressing the lean-industry concept of efficiency by cutting wasted time and efforts on shop or factory floors. It was Hill, the breakfast keynote speaker, who also talked of changing Northern Nevada communities for the better.

“I want you to get off your big fat couch and go out and do something different,” said Hill. He said Nevada business leaders and others have taught him that “community is a direct reflection of you.”

Repeatedly during his speech on how to set a climate for business growth, Hill warned about the dangers of failing to respond in changing times by altering behavior.

“If you always do what you’ve always done,” he said, “you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

He said four keys to changing business and society are understanding how to make change by knowing what times require, using a systems approach to change people and products, being a catalyst for responsibility, and being a thorough planner. He said succeeding at those will be good for companies, employees and the community.

“The manufacturing sector in Northern Nevada is key to our success,” he said. He said that is, in part, because manufacturers are outcome-oriented.

Conner, a project manager for Nevada Industry Excellence, focused on workflow and related issues in companies seeking to cut time when raw materials and partly done products sit idle during the manufacturing process. He referred to that as non-value-added time, calling it costly and citing examples of manufacturing firms that have cut their value-added ratio significantly. In some cases, he said, cuts from days to minutes are possible.

“World-class companies,” he said, “are focusing on a value-added ratio of 1-10.”

He said the most common mistake in moving toward lean manufacturing is that leaders at companies don’t attempt it or buy in at first.

“The leadership has to believe it,” Conner said.

Conner also said the lean concept isn’t solely about getting leaner, but finding ways to clear the way by pruning wasted time or motions to spur growth.

“This is not about getting smaller; it’s about getting bigger,” he said.

The one-day conference was put on by Nevada Industry Excellence, the Northern Nevada Development Authority and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.


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