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St. Louis — March 18, 2016 — Cambridge Engineering, the leading manufacturer of energy-efficient, high-temperature heating and ventilation (HTHV) direct-fired gas products for commercial spaces, is demonstrating its commitment to efficiency by implementing Lean manufacturing practices that seek to eliminate key wastes and promote streamlined practices at the production, management, and executive levels.
“Not only does it make good sense for us, as manufacturers of energy-efficient products, to implement and encourage efficiency mindfulness,” said Randy Niederer, director of marketing for Cambridge, “but Lean manufacturing actually results in a work environment where employees are empowered and invested to determine the least wasteful and most efficient manner in which to do their work and utilize their workspace and time. Who better to find the best way to work than the person doing the work themselves?”
Originally derived from the Toyota Production System, lean manufacturing (sometimes just shortened to “Lean”) is centered on the principle of “finding what adds value by reducing everything else.”
“Value” is seen as anything that the customer would pay for. As other manufacturers across other sectors adopted this philosophy, elements such as the number and type of key wastes were altered to better reflect conditions and circumstances within the systems and markets adopting the lean process.
Cambridge’s approach to Lean is heavily influenced by the concepts of Paul A. Aker’s two Second Lean books and videos about adopting Lean thinking and practices. Cambridge adapted Aker’s philosophy into three pillars: “See waste/eliminate waste/make a video of the process.”
All employees are encouraged to apply these three pillars in eliminating the “eight deadly wastes”: over-production, transportation, inventory, defects, over-processing, motion, waiting, and unused employee genius.
To date, the manufacturer has produced over 1,000 videos that detail how individual employees have adopted Lean solutions to eliminate waste and increase production. The videos are shared company-wide and foster innovative thinking across all departments and disciplines, resulting in a true team atmosphere.
Cambridge’s daily Lean meetings — what it calls its “Lean Journey” — serve as combination pep rally and Lean seminar where employees congratulate each other, track production goals, and share best practices in efficiency.
At a recent Cambridge Lean morning meeting, a production employee said he “felt like a kid in a candy factory” because, unlike management-mandated policies other manufacturers use that stifle creativity with rigid instructions, Cambridge Lean made him feel trusted and respected to use his talents and intellect to be the best he can be at his job.
“Not only does this foster a positive outlook and attitude from the employees,” Niederer said, “but it allows them to share and learn from each other, which engenders a better sense of teamwork and shared goals.”
Since the Lean manufacturing philosophy was created in Japan, perhaps it’s appropriate that Cambridge’s executive team is currently touring Japanese factories as part of the company's Lean Journey.
Established in 1963, Cambridge Engineering is a manufacturer of energy-efficient HTHV (high temperature heating and ventilation) direct gas-fired space heaters that save energy, reduce operating costs, and safely improve indoor air quality for commercial and industrial facilities. For more information, visit cambridge-eng.com.