Current State of Manufacturing

Reimagine Lean - Industry Reimagined

Industry Reimagined 2030 is the catalyst for national associations, institutes and companies of all sizes to collaborate and speak with a unified, compelling voice for this vibrant future.

It is hard to escape the message that manufacturing is critical to our country’s long-term success. From the initial worries about retiring baby boomers many years ago, to the supply chain issues caused by a global pandemic more recently, our governments have finally realized the importance of manufacturing ‘on shore’. The recent government messaging, in both Canada and the USA, highlighting manufacturing’s importance doesn’t immediately solve the issues however and, running successful manufacturing operations remains challenging to say the least.

On top of all this, we consumers, have been conditioned over the last 30 years or so, that deflation (the lowering of product prices) by off-shoring manufacturing to lower cost regions helps sustain our lifestyles but, now that inflation is hitting us again, consumers are looking to governments for solutions!

In 2020, Industry Reimagined 2030, a US based organization, began talking about and talking with manufacturing insiders and experts about re-thinking our manufacturing future and what might be needed for a sea-change level of improvement in productivity and global competitiveness. In 2022, they reached out and across the border to Canada, engaging with our very own Chad Metcalf of Value Stream Solutions Inc, whom many of our members will be very familiar. One key area of focus for the Industry Reimagined agenda is in the adoption of Lean Manufacturing. We all know, or have read reports, that widespread adoption of Lean Thinking in our manufacturing operations in North America is woefully low and, a small group of industry experts and leaders including Chad, began exploring and experimenting with changing the narrative with a focus on increasing Lean adoption by 3x. From research provided by Industry Reimagined, it is estimated that a 3x increase in Lean adoption across our manufacturing companies, a revolution in competitiveness will occur.

From Chad: “The greatest insight among our team was that the Lean movement has primarily been geared toward and adopted by the decision makers with Innovator and Early Adopter mindsets (leaders who see clear connection between the tools and their organizations needs). The struggle is often with leaders of companies that have been historically successful and operating for decades with status quo. The motivation and mindset for these Mainstream Leaders is often very different from those companies with early adopter mindsets (regardless of the age of the company). As Lean teachers and implementers, we know developing a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to Lean doesn’t work and so the group’s focus was on developing an approach to messaging and communicating the Lean Tools and WIIFM (what’s in it for me – and my company).”

One of the tools developed by the team Chad worked with, is a short questionnaire that was shared throughout the US and later Canada (through EMC) to confirm the current state of manufacturing among the respondents. The results of the survey have been published and highlighted in this recent article in Industry Week.

If you are interested in contributing more to the North American manufacturing collective, the survey is still open and your input will be added to the discussion. Links to the survey and results are available here: Reimagine Lean | Industry Reimagined.

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