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Using and Extending Lean Manufacturing Principles

Several recent articles in Industry Week have us thinking about the recent revival of the U.S. manufacturing sector. In a recent piece on the strong manufacturing showing at the start of the year, the sector is touted as a stabilizing force for the U.S. economy’s still uncertain economic rebound. Pulled along by an increase in the growth of new orders, manufacturing picked up its pace in January 2012. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index rose to 54.1 in January from 53.1 in December 2011—the 30th month of expansion for the sector.

The second article appeared a couple of weeks later, and praised the benefits of lean manufacturing principles being applied to manufacturing’s use of information technology. In this piece, Ryan King, director of information technology at ARPAC, a Schiller Park, Ill.-based manufacturer of packaging machinery, explains how his company has used lean concepts to improve performance. He views lean IT as a way to “use technology to improve processes and eliminate waste from those processes,” a basic tenet of lean manufacturing.

The article cites ARPAC’s implementation of Epicor ERP as one of the major source points of King’s approach to using lean principles:

When ARPAC implemented an Epicor ERP system in 2007, King used it as an opportunity to automate routine practices and remove time-consuming paperwork processes. For example, employees can simply scan a barcode to generate a purchase order and replenish needed parts, which are then typically delivered in a day or two. "It has saved us an average of 20 hours per week on our master schedule for manufacture," King notes. "And for our purchasing buyers, it eliminates a day of their week from worrying about stocked kanban parts."

The pressures placed on manufacturing during the recession have forced successful manufacturers to execute operations more efficiently to remain viable. Lean manufacturing has been an important tool in this effort, particularly for job shops and smaller manufacturers.

Those interested in learning more about how lean manufacturing principles can be applied to their business are encouraged to view the webcast, How to Run Lean by Improving the Quote-to-Cash Manufacturing Cycle.

Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team

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