The core of lean manufacturing is actually quite simple: relentlessly work to eliminate waste from the manufacturing process. Northwest Pipe implements Lean principles at every stage of our manufacturing process to reduce waste and increase efficiency. To push lean production initiatives, we have a lean coordinator at each plant who is familiar with each plant’s challenges and is available to support the team.
We base our Lean program on a three-phase continuous improvement roadmap. Phase 1 goals are to stabilize, standardize, and sustain Northwest Pipe operations; Phase 2 focuses on our value stream and improving performance; while Phase 3 links our tools and training to our business strategy. We are moving forward through these phases by focusing on the ‘Eight Wastes’ in manufacturing: defects, transportation, overproduction, inventory, waiting, motion, non-utilized talent, and extra-processing.
To share success and reward our employees, we have a quarterly PIT (Process Improvement Team) program. Employees submit their lean suggestions to receive cash prizes. This incentive program keeps process improvement in each workers mind, and rewards their efforts in workplace safety and productivity.