Taking Innovative Casting Technology To Your Bottom Line
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Monthly archive for December 2010

Old Machines Making Money

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

I just read an interesting article on how a number of machining houses are making money and growing their businesses using older equipment. What sets them apart is their attitude toward business, not modern, high productivity equipment or low cost labor. They cross train their people, they eliminate wasted time and effort, they pay fair wages and provide benefits, they treat their customers and suppliers well. If you ever read Goldratt’s book, The Goal, you’ll recognize these businesses. They’re doing the same thing Alex Rogo did in his factory to turn it around. All these machining houses are applying a Theory of Constraints mentality to their operations, even if they don’t recognize it as that. Congratulations to them for their insight and commitment to their businesses.

Is Lean Manufacturing in the Job Shop Undergoing a Transformation?

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

As a small job shop owner, I’ve always looked at lean manufacturing as a collection of management and manufacturing tools unified by an overarching philosophy. However, what Toyota may have developed for a large, integrated manufacturing company does not always translate well into a job shop environment. I’ve felt that in a job shop, you need to pick the appropriate lean tools or your lean implementation will fail, as the shop floor quickly decides on the relevancy of any program introduced to change the manufacturing environment. If the tools make sense, they will be embraced. Doing this, we’ve successfully employed a number of lean tools over the past ten years. You can pick from the lean buffet if you know what you want to do and how you will measure the results. 

In the past few weeks, I’ve read one article on the changing economy’s negative impact on lean, another on the need for small companies to focus on agility instead of lean , and then an argument against both these opinions. I am a firm believer that lean manufacturing needs to adapt to the circumstances, not the other way around. Lean principles and philosophy can be applied in many different environments, but the use of lean must evolve from first principles to fit that environment. The same concept should also be applied to six sigma and theory of constraints, both of which we also employ at Graphicast. In our operation, we use theory of  constraints as our overarching management philosophy, with lean and six sigma methods employed to reduce waste and process variation. We use throughput accounting methods as our mangerial accounting platform to measure the financial impact of our changes.

I’m pleased to see people openly discussing the difficulties of employing “big company” methods in the job shop, and the need to adapt these methods to the small shop to gain the greatest benefit. We need more voices in this discussion,

Graphicast Again Named Among the 10 Best Small Companies to Work for in New Hampshire

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

Graphicast was again named among the 10 Best Small Companies to work for in New Hampshire by Business NH Magazine. For the fifth year in a row, Graphicast’s culture and employee benefits made it one of the prime employers in the state. “Even in these tough economic times and with the sluggish recovery, I think we’ve maintained a consistency that resonates with our employees. Our employees are loyal and recognize the efforts we’ve made to keep things as normal as possible.'”

Kiva Systems’ Robots are Invading Warehouses

“Geoff Forester photograph, courtesy of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund”.

Kiva Systems, one of our favorite customers. was the subject of a recent article in Business Week magazine. Kiva manufactures robotic systems for warehouses. Based on traffic control software developed by Kiva, dozens of robots can simultaneously operate in a warehouse, picking items, and bringing them to stations where orders are consolidated for shipping. The system is also self organizing; it keeps track of frequently picked items and moves them closer to the consolidating areas to reduce transit time. These systems reduce worker fatigue and give the operators the ability to handle more volume, an especially important factor during the holiday shipping season. Congratulations to our friends at Kiva for this most recent recognition.

Taking Innovative Casting Technology to Your Bottom Line™

Graphicast Inc.

PO Box 430 36 Knight Street,
Jaffrey, NH 03452
phone: 603-532-4481
fax: 603-532-4261