Letters to the Editor For December 2007

No bargain; Ninth waste; New training

Getting Less Than We Bargained For

"Just In Time: The Cost of Doing Low-Cost Business," Nov. 2007

I very much appreciated your editorial. Here are some other considerations. I am in the corrugated fiberboard shipping container business and this is how trees become boxes. Trees must be grown and harvested. The logs must be transported to saw mills or chip plants. The chips are then transported to paper mills along with reclaimed fiber for conversion into rolls of paper that are then transported to box plants. Box plants convert rolls of paper into sheets of box board and then convert the box board into shipping containers and inner box cushioning for product protection and point of sale displays.

Each one of the above mentioned processes requires millions, in some cases hundreds of millions, of dollars of capital machinery, many educational, professional and scientific disciplines, and many skill levels. And each of the processes creates demand for other companies to make, support and maintain the machines. When we buy low-cost stuff from other countries, all value-added processes are also exported to those countries. All of this just to make a box!

Real wealth is only created when value is added to raw materials. Value is added when additional effort or processing results in a raw material becoming of greater worth in the eye of the consumer.

When we export the many opportunities created by various manufacturing processes without replacing them with opportunities of equal or greater potential, we are devaluing our future. I know many in this area who have lost good manufacturing jobs and as a result are having to take lesser-paying jobs to keep food on the table and are getting less for their life.

Jory Gromer
general manager
Green Bay Packaging Inc.
Chickasha Container Division
Chickasha, Okla.

Just Say No

"The Ninth Waste -- Saying No"

I agree with Norman Bodek. Saying "no" is often the easy answer. Understanding why is important if we want managers to answer "yes" more frequently. Often, the manager, based on previous experience, believes the idea will fail in execution. If "easy kaizen" makes managers feel more secure, I'm all for it.

Craig Henderson
president
SysteMental Inc.
Fort Wayne, Ind.

My initial response was to suggest that Norman Bodek's addition to the Ohno list of wastes was, in fact, an extension or corollary of the eighth waste, the underutilization of the talents of workers. But upon reflection I might suggest that the managerial resistance to change is in fact the overriding cause of waste and results in occurrence of the Ohno 7 and Bodek 8. It is the most insidious and dangerous of all wastes and it is the one over which we managers have the greatest control.

Bodek's comment about the tendency to search out and find even the slightest issue/fault/complication has destroyed many individuals and ideas on the launching pad, thereby robbing us of great opportunities. We must seek first to guide and counsel and encourage the development of ideas, confident that what seems to be a problem will either resolve itself or be uncovered by the individual or team in its processing. And in this way, all concerned will ultimately profit if only from the knowledge and experience gained. And this is not waste -- it is investment.

M. Humphreys
consultant
Allison Park, Pa.

Training the Next Generation

"Viewpoint: Want to Fill Those Jobs? Then Educate and Train the Next Generation."

Good summation of the challenge we face in preparing the next generation of manufacturing workers and owners. Here in Chicago, under the leadership of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council, a new high school -- Austin Polytech -- opened in September with the express purpose of preparing students for futures in manufacturing. Twenty-four Chicago-area companies have signed on as partners to provide mentoring, job shadowing and possibly internships for the students. We believe that Austin Polytech will create a new model for manufacturing education.

Helen Gagel
vice president
Chicago Manufacturing Center
Chicago, Ill.

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