Thompson Fabricating Incorporated
Steel Fabricators For the Waste Industry


                In April 2017 with the help of our local Industrial Resource Center (IRC) we started our journey into Lean Manufacturing, focusing on building a Lean Culture.  Initially when I thought of Lean Manufacturing my thought process was to do more with less employees by pushing them to go faster in their daily routine. Sounds simple Right? Not so much.

The program sponsored by the IRC introduced us to a process called 2 Second Lean, the book written by Paul Akers ( 2 Second Lean, How to Grow People and build a Lean Culture),  is based on the thought process of Eliminating Waste through Continuous Improvement.

At first I found the process a little confusing but as I continued to read and watch videos (which both I highly recommend) the process started to become clearer to me. Instead of telling employees how to do their job faster, we challenged/coached them to find ways to do their job faster (Leaner). Who better to eliminate the waste from the process than the individual doing that particular job? Worst case if it does not work you have only lost 2 seconds.  Sound Simple Right? Well as I am finding out, it is not.

While engaging in the process we embarked on challenging our employees to learn and  find the 8 wastes in their job process one at a time. The 8 wastes are Defects, Over Production, Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Extra Processing. I recently attended one of the monthly meetings held by the IRC along with our VP of Production and Shop Foreman. The meeting was held at a facility that has been implementing 2 Second Lean for several years.  Also attending were several manufacturing organizations in our area doing the same thing,  along with another dozen or so companies like ours wanting to implement the 2 Second Lean within their organizations.

One of the First steps in the 2 second lean process was to attend a Drum Beat meeting.  At this meeting the organization meets with their employee’s at the start of every shift, this is done daily.  This gives an opportunity for each employee to share with the group their own 2 Second Lean, and also lets the company provide information about what is happen within the organization. There is no true drum meeting formula to follow you have to find what fits for your organization and get everyone on board.

After some thought on what works for us we created an agenda for our own Drum Beat meetings. Focusing on a short 10 – 20 minute meeting once a week. The agenda includes:  reviewing numbers in regards to containers built, sold, and shipped in the previous week. We then discuss total containers on order and agree on a Goal for production for the coming week. We focus each meeting on four main topics to review openly in the form of a question & answer.

Challenges: We ask what challenges they may have faced in their job the previous week.  (This gives them an avenue to vent a little and keep management in the loop)

Mistakes:  We ask what mistakes they have made or may have seen being made.

Safety issues: We ask about any safety issues noticed either good or bad?

2 Second Leans: We ask what they thought and/or implemented in their own routine the previous week.

In our 1st two meetings we did not see the feedback from our employees that we expected. By the third and fourth meetings we had a good amount of feedback but during our fifth meeting we regressed a little receiving less feedback than the previous two meetings. As we progress through the process and as more employees get on board with what we are trying to do we will improve ourselves and our jobs through the 2 second lean!

I am exciting about our Lean Journey and I will be sure to blog again about it, I also encourage all to take a look at the following website to learn more of how Lean Thinking can help you in both your professional and personal life.