Wringing Out Waste

June 6, 2004
A growing number of forgers have utilized PFAST and Jobshop Lean to wring the waste from their operations.

So much interest was shown in Forging Defense Manufacturing Consortium’s free workshop on Jobshop Lean in February that the organizers decided to schedule a second day-long session (see p. 30 for a report). Now, the FDMC is scheduling two more Jobshop Lean workshops to be held later this year, probably in the Chicago area and on the West Coast.

What’s all the fuss about? Many manufacturing industries have adopted lean manufacturing as a way of life. They are identifying and eliminating waste in their manufacturing processes. “Waste” is defined as any step in the manufacturing system that does not provide value to the customer.

These manufacturers produce thousands, even millions, of parts, with little part variety, in what is termed low-mix, high-volume (LMHV) manufacturing.

Ohio State University’s Prof. Shahrukh Irani has become a guru on applying lean manufacturing to custom forgers and other types of job shops. Typically forgers produce only short runs of forgings in any given job. Such job shop manufacturing is known as high-mix, low volume (HMLV) manufacturing.

According to Prof. Irani, many of the tools, technologies, and processes designed for accomplishing “lean” with LMHV manufacturing are not well-suited to achieving lean manufacturing in job shops. He has developed the Production Flow Analysis Simplification Toolkit (PFAST), an integrated library of algorithms that can provide a unique, comprehensive material flow analysis for custom forgers. PFAST runs on a Pentium PC desktop or laptop, requiring only off-the-shelf software. A growing number of forgers have used PFAST and Jobshop Lean to wring waste from their operations. TECT Manufacturing (see “Thinking Lean at TECT Cleveland,” Forging, Jan.-Feb. 2003, p. 16) is one.

The latest forging company to detail its successes with lean manufacturing in a job shop environment is Ulven Forging Inc., Hubbard, OR. Andrew Ulven, president, revealed several positive outcomes in a presentation at the Cleveland workshop. The report beginning on p. 26 of this issue covers many of these favorable results.

The development effort for Jobshop Lean is funded by the Defense Logistics Agency through the FDMC. For details on the next two Jobshop Lean workshops planned for the Midwest and West Coast, check the FDMC website at http://fdmc.aticorp.org. In case you were wondering, the DLA supports the Jobshop Lean effort because it is responsible for purchasing forgings needed for replacement parts for the nation’s weapons systems.

If you want to wring waste from your forging job shop operations, you need to become familiar with Jobshop Lean. The upcoming FDMC workshops are a perfect opportunity.

WALLACE D. Huskonen, Contributing Editor