Note: This event was done in July of 2006. I just wanted to share an update: Since the event, the stores department has seen and undergone many changes. The "cage" is now organzied by pump type making it easier and quicker to pick the pieces for pump assembly. We also reduced the size of stores, which gave us more space to have a dedicated Service Area to better serve our customers. And new to the plant, is the idea that no pump should start being built until ALL the components are here - so stores has made a decision not to release partial pump kits into assembly - instead it only leaves stores once it is complete. This seemingly simple exercise gets rid of some of the wastes found in assembly (excess inventory, motion, transportation, overproduction, etc.) Stores continues to be one of the fastest movers in our plant (in terms of lean improvements). This team as well as all the stores employees are developing new and better ideas every single day - i will continue to update on their progress.

  • To create kits for specific pumps in stores for assembly to pull
  • A need to create a pull from assembly
  • A need to locate where those kits will be held before and after the pull (both in stores and in assembly)


  • Training in Takt, Flow and Pull
  • Placemats created for specific pump kits – poke yoke
  • Named the carts
  • Identified and red tagged old inventory
  • Created a new cell layout for the cage and staging area to promote flow
  • Established a method to refuse incomplete orders


  • Purchase orders from our vendors that come early, are just as bad as those that come late.
  • Old inventory that is obsolete should be removed
  • Setting min/max levels on all stock items in inventory is an easy way to identify if we need more/less.


  • Identified and red tagged old inventory (top offenders include impellers, casings, rings, cover, motors, etc.)
  • Created a method to promote pull from assembly, as well as flow within the stores department.
  • Red tagged $$$$ of obsolete inventory
  • Mapped the process flow for the carts, and created a new layout for the areas in stores (removing much waste due to transportation).The new cage layout will remove the ‘grocery store-like’ picking of parts


  • The new layout of stores will be visual, having a section for power pump parts, horizontal pump parts, vertical pump parts as well as common pump parts
  • Placemats will ensure that all parts necessary are on the kit cart, and will draw immediate attention for those parts that are missing.
  • New staging area has specific locations for those kits that are complete that can be pulled from assembly.


  • Learning from a sensei was a great experience!
  • We should have cross-functional teams, as well as have members who know the most about the area
  • This will make stores’ and assembly’s life a little more easier to manage
  • Making our problems visible is not a negative thing – it’s the only way to highlight problems and come up with ways to fix them.
  • I can’t believe we have that much old inventory!


Mark Graban said...

Liz - it's great to see your blog. Please send me an email via my blog (www.leanblog.org), would love to compare notes.

Bingz said...

Hi Liz, I've been doing Lean for 2 years +, basically just learning Lean principles online and from visits to other companies. I'm really interested in getting your views on some of the Lean certification courses you attended. Could you email me @ bingjie_ug@yahoo.com.sg? Can't seem to find your email address. thanks!

Carl said...


Looks like you accomplished a lot on the project utilizing a lot of lean tools in the process. We have implemented lean and six sigma in over 25 locations over the past 5 years, and learned a lot from mistakes as well as success along the way. Regarding bingz comment, our lean manufacturing certification course is 100% online. There is also a free primer on the site that covers all major concepts.

Carl said...

Liz and all,

I forgot to mention that you can email me at bwrigh@insight.rr.com and if you ever want to bounce an idea off me or just get an opinion just give me a buzz.