Letters To The Editor For September 2005

Aug. 24, 2005
What to measure and what to say.

Revamping Manufacturing Metrics

Re: "Editor's Page -- Measuring Success In A Global Economy," August 2005. I also believe that lean manufacturing has slowed investment in new equipment [and] that it has slowed job creation.

Your comment about squeezing more value from existing assets hopefully included attempts to squeeze that same value from human resources, which is why the industry is seeing job burnout and no interest in the manufacturing field from young people. Who wants to work in the same field as Dad when he comes home complaining about "doing three times the amount of work for the same pay"?

I am a fan of lean manufacturing when it is properly used, but when a general manager or operations manager has no understanding of the lean process and thinks not of supply-chain improvements, or cell-manufacturing improvements, but rather of busting human resource numbers to cut overhead expenses without true production improvements, I lose interest.

I understand that the industry must undergo a structural change if manufacturing is to survive. The collection of data needs to be a continuous tracking procedure, not a one-time "eureka, we hit the jackpot" collection. The trends need to be realized and acted upon. Tweaking the system is necessary, and a good data tracking system would verify processes. But then again that is more overhead isn't it?

Bill Sillies, operations manager
Precision Industrial Automation Inc., Cincinnati

Go Ahead, Quote Me

I've always considered IndustryWeek as the best magazine out there for manufacturing folks, and that also goes for a lot of your thoughts, but this commentary ("Brandt On Leadership -- Masking Candor With Catch Phrases," August 2005) is insulting.

You generalize that anyone who would stoop so low as to use quotations from others to be devoid of leadership qualities. Well, I have a long history of using quotations, not as a mask for not thinking or addressing the really difficult decisions and actions, but as an adjunct to other motivational methods including training, celebrating success, employee recognition, etc. The very foundation of a successful lean program is to motivate folks to want to continuously improve, and if some quotations from well-known and very intelligent people can help even a little, it's worth it.

No, it's not the only thing a leader should do -- a leader must certainly set policy, be a visionary, be clear and steady, make the tough decisions, and communicate.

Remember, "Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -- Plato.

Ron Chase, senior vice president,
Panavision International, Woodland Hills, Calif.

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