September 19, 2013

Lean Expert Jim Womack Commends Ingersoll Rand’s Lean Transformation Progress

Above: Jim Womack, center, talks to team members during his extended value stream study of a residential heat pump.

In an article on the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) website that details the value of the Gemba Walk, Jim Womack, the man who literally wrote the book on Gemba Walks, discusses the Gemba Walk he took with Ingersoll Rand Chairman and CEO Michael W. Lamach at a few of Ingersoll Rand’s facilities. Simply put, a Gemba Walk is walking the place where work happens – where the value is created – to observe the process.

“We went out and just picked one of their operations and walked through two product families, from the rear of the operation to the front,” Jim wrote in the article. “He and I were seeing the exact same things and saying the same things.”

Jim’s observations are based on an extended value stream study of our Residential Solutions heat pump. Jim and several Ingersoll Rand leaders embarked on a deep review of the tiring travels of the heat pump’s raw material and main components before it becomes a completed product ready for our customers. Every step of the process – from the melting of the metal at our supplier’s operations in Monterrey, Mexico, to the machining of the frame in Ingersoll Rand’s Monterrey facility, to the product’s shipping, final assembly, storing, distribution,.and dealer installation in Texas.

“We were just looking at each step in the process and at every step saying, ‘Is this valuable?’ wrote Womack. “And then, ‘Let’s assume it is valuable. Are we doing it in the best currently known way?’”

Ingersoll Rand began applying a lean Six Sigma program across the enterprise in 2001. In 2009, the company began a transformation to operational excellence based on lean principles, as part of its goal of achieving premier performance.

AME Conference Set for Late October

Womack’s article, which promotes the upcoming AME conference, is posted on the AME site along with articles by other lean thought leaders – Dan Jones, John Shook and Mike Rother. The four experts will each share lessons from real value stream experiences at the upcoming conference, which will be held in Toronto from Oct. 21 to 25. The AME is a not-for-profit group of manufacturing professionals, which represents about 4,000 members.

Womack is the founder and senior advisor to the Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc., a nonprofit management research company. His most recent book, “Gemba Walks,” just came out in Chinese and features an introduction by Mike Lamach.

Read Jim Womack’s full AME article

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