As they say in NASCAR circles, “Every Day is Race Day.” This is a concept that is easily relatable for most of us in direct marketing. In fact, there are many similarities between the NASCAR pit crews and our Lean Manufacturing teams at IWCO Direct.
During a recent event where IWCO Direct envelope machine operators learned more about Lean, Continuous Improvement, Kaizen and Standard Work, we drew an analogy between the Standard Work of a NASCAR pit crew and Direct Mail Standard Work. In an arena where there is no room for error, this comparison instantly conveys:
• Both professions are fast and furious;
• Time is critical;
• Individual’s actions can’t be left to chance;
• There is a good reason for every step;
• Every step taken needs to be clearly defined and followed exactly;
• Everyone needs to know what to do and then execute.
Integrating Lean principles into our workflow and culture has allowed us to reduce process lead times, enhance quality and improve on-time deliveries—which advances quality and cost-effectiveness for our customers. But with Lean, there is never a time to just sit back and bask in the glory. Instead, we need to continually improve processes—much like the pit crew.
During the past two years, IWCO Direct has gained many insights about implementing Lean Manufacturing, which I share in the July issue of American Printer magazine article, “Seven Tips for Printers Implementing Lean Manufacturing.” The article offers perspective on how to make necessary adjustments to fully benefit from a Lean approach.
Like a NASCAR pit crew, everyone in the Lean team must work in harmony to achieve the team’s ultimate goal—winning the race. Our envelope teams have fully embraced the pit crew concept. Over the past year and a half, average make-ready times on the envelope converting equipment have been reduced from three hours to a little more than one hour. This efficiency means packages get on the road and in the hands of our clients’ customers faster than ever. And with our focus on continuous improvement there will be more to come.
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