When it comes to lean manufacturing, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. In fact, one of the key components of a company becoming more lean is to ask what each of its individual employees can do to be more efficient and, ultimately, more effective at their jobs. “At Ideal Aerosmith, our commitment to being lean is less about a grand corporate effort,” says Ideal Aerosmith President Greg Owens, “and more about 150 individual efforts. While these single efforts may seem small by themselves, they stack up to make a big difference in the end.”

One example of Ideal Aerosmith’s lean effort is the organization of tools in its various departments. “We rearranged where and how the tools were located and placed them in an organized fashion on walls with outlines around them,” says Owens. “Now the tools are completely visible to our crew, and they can immediately find the tool they need right away or identify if it’s missing. In a timed test we conducted, we were amazed that something so small reduced the time it took for many processes by more than 50 percent!”

Beginning in 2012, Ideal Aerosmith made a commitment to continuously improve its culture by becoming more lean. Since it launched this initiative – spearheaded by a volunteer committee that calls itself the “Lean Team” – Ideal Aerosmith has been putting its lean efforts to work for its customers. “Being more lean is really about contributing to our customers’ own efforts to be more lean themselves,” says Owens. “We want to be a seamless part of their process, contributing to their success rather than impeding it. If we can remove waste, whether that’s a step here or a task there, we can remove time and increase throughput. That results in shorter lead times and lower costs for our customers. They can work leaner because we’re always ready to quickly and efficiently get them what they need.”