The Personal Side of Lean Manufacturing

11/04/2014 10:350 commentsViews: 17

The award-winning Manufacturing Process Optimization Program at Jabil Shanghai not only showcases how lean manufacturing can cut costs and save time but also highlights how employees benefit from lean projects.

ShanghaiTeam and Lean ManufactoringThe team members are also seeing the results of the project in their particular work functions. Jessica Li, purchasing manager at the Jabil Shanghai plant, stated, “The changes made during the project are having a positive impact on purchasing, including all the way up the value chain like the efficiency of buyers and vendor quality. The entire purchasing team values our lean culture of continuous improvement because they can see its benefits every day.” Referring to the complete elimination of paper, thanks to the new ePull system, Ju Qing said, “This improvement has solved the problem of low efficiency and human error that we previously experienced with paper-based systems.” Dai Lan added, “The shift from manual to system control of materials provides a clear, accurate status for the plant.”

Further, they are pleased that their work is being replicated at other Jabil Inc. facilities. Jessica Li said, “This kind of problem and waste is occurring in other Jabil facilities, as well. Our project can be duplicated at other sites to extend its benefits to more employees.”

Another important thing is that many participants feel that the project strengthened their professional qualifications and provided visibility among senior executives. Jack Chen, Shanghai plant lean six sigma manager and the other project leader, noted, “This cross-functional initiative gave me valuable project management experience, especially in the area of communications. I had the opportunity to help employees better understand the benefits of Lean and see the contribution of different functional areas in achieving shared goals.” He also improved his skills in team building, particularly in motivating people. “As a leader, I was responsible for finding resources, obtaining information and guiding the pace of the project – especially during root cause analysis – to be sure we thoroughly evaluated all the data. It taught me a lot about the power of effective teamwork.” Ju Qing echoed that thought: “Teamwork is the soul of success.”


Overall, the project was a huge success not only for Jabil as a company, but also on a personal front and ultimately its customers. This project allowed individuals to work together to accomplish specific goals and helped strengthen their skills. Additionally, they were able to take what they learned from this experience and continue to apply these lean six sigma practices to their everyday performance as well as teach other employees how they can help them in their facilities. Not only does the majority of the Jabil Shanghai plant team who participated in this project feel they have achieved great success and learned a lot, they would also jump at the chance to be a part of another project if the opportunity presented itself.

Walter Garvin is Vice President, Lean Six Sigma, for Jabil Inc. This article concerns a project at one of its facilities in Shanghai, China. Jabil Inc. is based in St. Petersburg, and is an electronic product solutions company providing comprehensive electronics design, manufacturing and aftermarket product management services to global electronics and technology companies.


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