March 2019


Welcome to  Blue Heron Journal, on-line resource for business thought-leaders and decision-makers.

We've got  predictions,  Paging Dr. Lean(sm), links to Industry Week and AME Target On-line features, Executive Interviews, and pictures.  Over eleven thousand new business books are published per year, and Blue Heron reviews the ones we love and find useful. 

We’re looking at critical business areas and the human side of business, what happens when we assemble human beings hard-wired for corporate warfare into organizations designed to produce.  Traditional management approaches don’t always work, or often they only work for a few years, and Blue Heron will offer you some new tools and resources to go beyond the cookbooks.

Patricia E. Moody, Publisher

Fortune magazine "Pioneering Woman in Manufacturing," Industry Week IdeaXChange Xpert,,,LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook        CLICK The Mill Girl Bio


                         Mr. Mookah comes to you courtesy of


The Fifth Industrial Revolution, Manufacturing's Future

When Dick Morley and I sat down to write The Technology Machine: How Manufacturing Will Work in the Year 2020, we were 15 years out from the end date... we envisioned an enterprise connected machine to machine, sensor to sensor, with discrete information flows clicking along with minimum human and customer orders would drive the machines nearly giant step for mankind...humans not be removed from the picture, but rather empowered by the technology. 

But not everybody buys into it...                                   

CLICK The Future of Manufacturing

Book buddy Dick Morley, winner of the Prometheus Award and inventor of some 30 devices, including the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC),  warns The Mill Girl that what we are looking for is not an "Obamacare of IT" to run the manufacturing enterprise.  "Don't go that big," he says. 


Praise from Art Byrne, former President, The Wiremold Company: "The new bible to improve any manufacturing company..."

The best 4P Design for LeanSigma project The Mill Girl ever saw was at the Pella plant in Iowa ... annual productivity gains of 15 percent to 20 percent.  EXCERPT FROM THE PERFECT ENGINE

St. Martins Press 2013
STEPHEN COONTScreator of the unstoppable warriors Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini, talking with The Mill Girl about his latest, PIRATE ALLEY ! 


Rick Blasgen, CSCMP head, talks with The Mill Girl about the next 50 years! Executive Interview HERE

Ken McGuire, AME Icon, Responds to Blue Heron Journal On Kaizen -

The creator of pioneering Japan Study Missions looks back to ask, “What’s next?”  and like The Mill Girl, McGuire objects to “all lean, all the time”    MORE: Made in The Americas (sm): The Kaizen Blitzers and A Reader's Response




Copyright Patricia E. Moody 2019, All Rights reserved. 

The latest technologies are finally delivering on their early promises of integration and speed

Wild Card #25 from The Technology Machine, How Manufacturing Will Work in the Year 2020, by Patricia E. Moody and Richard E. Morley, The Free Press 1999:

No hands!  Manufacturing sector shrinkage will follow agritech and  electronics industries to eliminate hands-on labor cost.  Computers and intelligent systems and few humans will manage manufacturing.  Twenty percent of the cost of new facilities will be computers:  most manufacturing labor costs will be for technical support - engineering, simulators, idea acquisition just like the way movies and software were products in the nineties.  Less than 5 percent of the labor base will be working at hands-on innovative replication.

Manufacturing IT partnerships power these success stories - learn how companies like Autoliv and its IT partner Leading2Lean (to read the Target magazine feature, download the Target app at the App Store or Google Play Stores), Cirtronics and Aegis Software, Polamerand Plex, and Firstronic and Plex  engineered high-performance IT solutions, with big upticks in productivity, costs down, and better flexibility.  
Cirtronics builds products for top innovation companies like Ava Robotics (an iRobot spinoff) and Brooks Automation.

Autoliv, Automating Lean
Lean is an assumption, IT a necessity

For Autoliv Inc., the world's largest automotive safety supplier headquartered in Sweden, automation doesn't obviate lean; it enhances it.   Considered to be one of the most advanced lean practitioners, the company in 2015 invested in a lean execution system (LES) to help operators eliminate production, maintenance and quality abnormalities that cause them to miss metrics and KPIs.  The system delivers real-time data to operators, helping them identify production bottleneck root causes or other quality failures/deviations and then problem solve, seamlessly integrating with Autoliv's continuous improvement practices.  The implementation across 83 plants worldwide was completed in 2017.  


How manufacturing IT drives growth for Polamer Precision
New IT system delivers real-time data to the gemba

In New Britain, Connecticut, a scant 20 miles from major customer Pratt Whitney, is the new home of aerospace producers Polamer Precision, Inc., a first-tier high growth supplier founded by 52 year-old immigrant Chris Galik.  ... "We're competing successfully now not just in the U.S. - our competition is China, Japan and Poland.  Based on innovation and automation that we heavily invested in, we've been able to reduce cost and pricing, and we've been able to get long term agreements," CEO Galik proudly points out.


IT delivers competitiveness for Firstronic
Of the four possible solutions - Oracle, SAP, Plex Systems and Infor - Plex seemed the best choice, the right price and had no requirement for local installation or maintenance.

Patricia E. Moody
copyright 2018   All Rights Reserved

Big Data, Small Company:  How a Michigan Supplier Is Bridging the Digital Divide, by Patricia Moody, Industry Week,  April 18, 2018

When Steve Jobs decided to build his NeXT computer factory in Fremont, California in 1987, he bragged that all of his production workers had Ph.Ds.  The NeXT factory was different from every other electronics mill at that time, a clean line of machines connected from start to finish, all repainted Wehrmacht gray on a shiny, spotless floor.  It was quiet, unnervingly quiet. 

Jobs envisioned a different way of building fully integrated systems in this new factory.  But his concept didn't last, even though NeXT demonstrated just how clean and integrated - with hardware and NEXTSTEP software - a factory could be. 

What killed NeXT was not its look, not its customer response, not its performance (in faCt, the Worldwide Web was created on a NeXT system) but the price.  At approximately $5,000, the total cost of the components that made up a complete system was just too high - more than an average student or home user could pay.

But NeXT was also a revolutionary manufacturing idea because when U.S. manufacturing was being loaded on the boats and shipped to Asia, Jobs, ever the creative contrarian, was trying to "make it in the U.S."  Later, in fact, after Jobs, rejoined Apple as CEO, he said (according to biographer Walter Isaacson) if he had 35,000 industrial engineers, he would have kept manufacturing in the U.S.

Obviously, Jobs knew that the only way we were going to innovate and make money doing it was to not only design, but to build products, especially complex products, in the U.S.  And it takes elegant, powerful, full integrated and quiet systems to do that.  "Quiet," meaning the operation is not flooded with a surge of disruptive hourly system updates.  "Integrated" meaning connected by intelligence.   And "powerful" meaning a servant. 

Fast forward 25 years, beyond the lean obsession and the web, and we see a manufacturing IT landscape dotted with great variety - integrated, stand-alone, legacy, in-house, cloud-based.

The applications market has grown and individualized so much - either through add-ons and modifications or simply new apps - that we are fast approaching custom software and custom automation networks.  The challenge is selecting and quickly installing the right software and automation, often displacing legacy systems - a suit-up process that inevitably brings risk, extra cost, and human pain with it. 

Fortunately we can point to manufacturing technology pioneers - profitable growth innovators, companies like Auto-liv, Polamer Precision, Cirtronics, Newscastle Systems, Locus Robotics and Firstronic - as examples of how operations can manage the transformation from legacy un-integrated systems, to powerful web-to-customer solutions.

Lean is an assumption, IT a necessity

I've covered Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Firstronic several times in my column, but they're worth revisiting.  (I'll cover the other companies in subsequent columns.)  The 2017 IndustryWeek Best Plants winner is well on its way to hosting an integrated manufacturing system that supports great product variety with very demanding quality and tracking requirements.  

Firstronic CEO John Sammut knew that the company's system had to manage more production processes, but budget and time, as well as market pressures, would not support endless in-house systems projects.

The answer required Sammut and his team to make some difficult decisions from a seemingly endless number of choices - in-house, cloud-based, licenses, adds, no-adds, mobile apps - many of which were not truly designed for small-to medium-sized operations.  The company needed immediate solutions.  The ideal system needed to, first of all, track customer orders, production and inventories and tie into suppliers.  Detailed quality data was key to the company's growth, even survival, plans.  

Pain-Filled Days
Sandy Kolp, Firstronic's Director of Program Management and Grand Rapids' Plant Manager, recalls when the systems decision was made.  With 50 customers worldwide, 65% of them automotive, the company needed to be able to connect 24/7 with its suppliers.  But their old system, an off-the-shelf application that brought materials in and shipped product out, just wasn't up to it.  What happened in between was unclear, and it used paper, lots of paper.



Cirtronics:  Building Enterprise Excellence - The company's Learning Center integrates vision, culture and training
by Patricia E. Moody, in Assn for Mfg Excellence Target magazine, Winter 2017.  

     "Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when given the opportunity.  That might be a surprise to some people, but not to me.  I see it every day."  Gerardine Ferlins, President and CEO, Cirtronics

Something's happening here,
What it is ain't exactly clear...  or is it?

Some  industrial output numbers to think about:  -
1997   US $1.9T, Japan 1.55T, CHINA 427.3B
1999   US $2.11T, Japan 1.47T, CHINA 503.02B
2007  US 2.37T, Japan 1.65T, CHINA 1.2T


Dick Morley, winner of the Prometheus Award and inventor of the PLC, we co-authored The Technology Machine, How Manufacturing Will Work in the Year 2020 together, the most fun I've ever had doing a book, passed away, October 17, 2017.  The Boston Globe and Smith-Heald published this obituary.

Click here for more: 
Robots Smash Records And Collide With Wetware
Morley on Steve Jobs

Wild Cards  #1:  Technology will drive not only manufacturing, but also social structures and communications.

Click here for the next of 127 Moody and Morley Wild Cards!  


This story made me and the author, Salena Zito cry.  It's just too hard, too damn hard. 

The day that destroyed the working class and sowed the seeds of Trump, by Salena Zito, New York Post, Sept 16, 2017

Rusty remains and railroad tracks sit quiet at the Casey Industrial Park, once the Campbell Works of  Youngstown Steel and Tube in Struthers, Ohio.  Photo Justin Merriman for The New York Post.

Campbell, Ohio - Forty years ago, on Sept. 19, thousands of men walked into the Campbell Works of Youngstown Sheet and Tube along the Mahoning River before the early shift...

It was just before 7 a.m. ...

In the next hour their lives would change forever...  CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THE STORY

Great news!  Dantar Oosterwal's The Lean Machine from Amacom awarded the Shingo prize for literature. Innovation and new product development at the heart of US manufacturing  future - so glad this milestone book wins Shingo.  Was not easy but enjoyed working on development and placement of this important project, seeing it through to completion! 


" business leaders insight on supporting innovation and shows them how their companies can consistently excel at developing innovative and profitable products and still keep employees motivated, energized and always learning."  Biztimes Milwaukee

"The Lean Machine serves best as a set of tips for the project manager, but executives can also benefit from Oosterwal's wisdom when they are trying to build a top-performing team of product developers or engineers."  Houston Business Journal

"The author uses a friendly, conversational approach...The lessons provided are universal and helpful for any company needing a resurgence."  APICS Magazine

"...valuable insights for people interested in understanding how systematic problem solving applies to the kinds of problems that product development managers need to solve..."  Journal of Product Innovation Management

Industry Week celebrates Made in America with July 4 newsletter - including the latest in our  Firstronic feature series, plus  robots, bikes, electronics!   Rumors of US manufacturing demise are FAKE NEWS!!! - robots, bikes, electronics!    

Are you a believer?
Industry Week Best Plants Winner Firstronic Proves The  US CAN Manufacture Electronics.  CLICK HERE for the story...

Lean is an assumption, IT a necessity.  Invited to an exciting robotics/AI/machine learning, even Block Chain, conference with the scary bright innovators.  More to come.  It's about time!

Meanwhile back in Boston, the absolute center of all things AI/robotics/automation/machine learning/guidance systems, ordinary IT, United round-trip, all in one piece!  Had a blast at the Industry Week Conference.  Got to chat with Goodyear's Billy Ray Taylor keynoter  and see Firstronic win Best Plants.   Thanks to all my Industry Week friends and hello to all my new buddies!  Intense...

Invited to Industry Week Manufacturing and Technology Conference, Best Plants Awards coming up next week in Cleveland - hoping to hear the good, the bad and the ugly of US manufacturing innovation tech.  

 Will see Firstronic accept Best Plants Award - should hear  more  good robotics, automation, leadership stories!  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - finally!   And booked on United!  Whoo hoooo!   
The Mill Girl at Blue Heron Journal   
Fortune magazine "Pioneering Woman in Manufacturing," Industry Week IdeaXChange Xpert,,,LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook        CLICK The Mill Girl Bio




Firstronic wins Industry Week Best Plants Award.  Congrats again to this BLUE HERON JOURNAL "MADE IN THE AMERICAS" company.  Plus Firstronic sweeps Circuits Assembly magazine service excellence award.
Patricia E. Moody's Blue Heron Journal features in Industry Week and AME's Target magazine on this award-winning American company:
The Hardest Part of Outsourcing is Reversing It;
What I LearnedFrom Taking the Pre-hiring Survey - It's All in The Wiring;
Workforce and Lean Strategies Help Keep Manufacturer in the US;
Leveraging IT for Competitive US Production

More features from The Mill Girl at Blue Heron Journal:

s red, stands 6-foot-3 when on a pedestal, has two arms and a big smile, and can work 24/7 without ever taking breaks for coffee or the bathroom?  Baxter, the collaborative robot, of course.  
Industry Week two-part feature series - collaborative kinesthetically programmed (in 15 minutes!) robots lead the Fifth Industrial Revolution.  Up in Minnesota, Donnelly Custom Manufacturing opened the door for new tasks for its human employees by bringing in collaborative robots.  To meet Baxter, the smiling robot and his fellow workers at Donnelly Custom Manufacturing in Minnesota,  CLICK HERE.    

Intelligent Automation, Collaborative Robots Can Solve a Big Challenge
When companies bring products back from offshored manufacturing operations, the processes cannot be simply dropped back into place and reconfigured with the same machines and process flows from 20 years back.  Robots offer the tremendous competitive advantage.  CLICK HERE.


Tackling Workforce Challenges, A Made-In-The-Americas feature, Target Fall issue, available on-line 9/29/16 - CLICK HERE. (Non-AME members may need to sign up for free account.) 

The answer isn't always bring on the robots - three things Firstronic tackled that improved performance, including cutting turnover from 30% down to 5%. 


How Auto Supplier Magneti Marelli tackled this big packaging cost challenge: 

North American packaging industry projected to grow 1.4% annually to $186B by 2017, according to Packaging Digest!


Randy Hill, Magneti Marelli packaging engineer,  says there is a better way... click here for the story.


Twenty years ago out-of-the box Kaizen Blitz results were huge, but inevitably the numbers came down, normalized. Twenty years since the invasion of the kaizen blitzers,  it's time for manufacturing to fix systems architecture, integrate disparate IT systems, and move to collaborative robots.  

Twenty years ago we looked at paybacks for kaizen blitz projects, and we published the results in The Kaizen Blitz (Laraia, Moody and Hall, Wiley 1999) .  The energy was there, and initial paybacks were exciting: 

Paybacks are significant, with a range of performance data depending on the level of expertise of team members and degree of difficulty of the project.  However, Kaizen Blitz experts generally track big paybacks in the following areas:


Set-up time reduction                                                          70 -90%
Productivity improvement                                                20-60%
Process time reduction                                                        40-80%
Inventory reduction                                                              30-70%
Walking distance reduction                                              40-90%

These results were compiled from more than fifty Kaizen Blitz companies, including Critikon (a Johnson and Johnson Company), Hamilton Standard, Jacobs Manufacturing, Pratt & Whitney, Wiremold, Microtouch, Nypro, Boston Scientific, US Robotics, and Rockwell Automation.  
 Source;  The Kaizen Blitz, Laraia, Moody and Hall, Wiley & Sons 1999

For reshoring to work, manufacturers like Arnold Kamler of Kent Bikes, and Ric Cabot of Darn Tough Socks, and John Sammut of Grand Rapids Firstronics, know that selective automation and high performance workforce training and retention are the ONLY way.  Anything less is not enough!


The answer to the question "What should I do with my life" doesn't usually strike like a lightning bolt, but most of the time in merely a small voice or faint urge. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.                                                                          


Google+ Share Button

The gadget spec URL could not be found

Governor Nikki Haley and Continental Executive Board Member Nikolai Setzler tour the Continental Tire Plant

South Carolina has been on a roll, attracting and retaining manufacturing companies, including BMW, Continental Tire and Kent International, Inc., among others.

We spoke with the state's Governor, Nikki Haley, about what role government plays in making it all work.  And with unemployment down to 6.7% from a previous high of 15%, they must be doing something right... MORE

KENT INTERATIONAL'S RESHORING JOURNEY - They're bringing bike manufacturing back to the US!
Arnold Kamler, Chairman and CEO, Kent International, Inc.


    "Nobody ever outsourced anything for quality. Since 1978,   still  Made in VERMONT, USA."
                     -- Quote on the wall of the Darn Tough factory.

Marc and Ric CabotHow an American Sock Manufacturer Battled Its Way Back from Bankruptcy to Growth

Mar 9, 2015
Publisher, Blue Heron Journal

                                                                                                                                       Marc and Ric Cabot

When the last giant textile mills along the Merrimac River in New England shut down, hosiery was not far behind. The death of brick factories with names like Appleton, Lawrence, Coolidge and Cabot -– remember that name, Cabot -- marked the end of a one-hundred-fifty-year run of seemingly limitless U.S. innovation and profit dominance.

The human cost of lost livelihoods and hollowed-out towns was a pain suffered in city after city as first labor, wage and speed-up conflicts, followed by outsourcing, gouged big holes in the U.S.’ industrial fabric -- and forever changed the formula for success.

Earlier, the 1814 Boston Manufacturing Company’s prototype Waltham, Mass., mill, engineered by Frances Cabot Lowell and Paul Moody, succeeded on the strength of scale -– deeper waterfalls, more Yankee mill girls, then more workers from Ireland and Europe, more machines, bigger factories and, finally, complete process integration. The stockholders at the time were ecstatic as they, like the mill owners, saw cash endlessly pouring off rows of looms.

Small and, later, big brick mills provided local work for small towns and enormous profits for stockholders, but like so many other victims of outsourcing, hosiery manufacturing in the U.S. couldn’t keep up.

Like the textile mills before them, more and faster machines, economies of scale, fewer workers and home-grown innovation were just not enough to stem the outflow of this U.S. high-volume, low-margin business to cheap labor areas, first to the American South, then the Far East.

Like so many other U.S. manufacturers, Vermont’s Cabot Mills fell victim to the outsourcing craze.

Enter Ric Cabot, an ex-Manhattan publishing and advertising worker and a third-generation inheritor of what was -– at least at first -– a unique opportunity. This seemingly unlikely entrepreneur took over an operation that was busy shipping private-label socks to big-name retailers like J Crew, GAP, Banana Republic and Old Navy from an ancient mill in Northfield, Vt.

Most of all, the name 'Darn Tough' came to signify not just the socks themselves – guaranteed for life, knitted with small gauge, smoothly fitted New Zealand merino – but the company’s come-back strategy.

Ric’s grandfather had owned hosiery factories in New Hampshire and North Carolina and, in 1978, his father Marc acquired the Northfield site and switched from textile sales to running a mill.

“Dad decided on the Vermont location -– he had contacts here," Ric Cabot explained. "It was an industry in decline, but there was still manufacturing."

"We had 20,000 square feet in the old mill in town. We had the old fashioned belt-driven knitting machines, and we were beginning the changeover to computer-controlled machines, but the old mill burned down. In 1995, we completed this current 20,000 square foot factory, enlarged it to 56,000 square feet, and now we’re expanding it  again."

The business prospered. In 1989, when Ric had joined his dad at the mill, the “great quality at the right price” formula worked -- that is until, like textiles before them, high-volume U.S. hosiery manufacturers could no longer guarantee endless profits, especially for a small, first-tier supplier like Cabot Mills.

For ten years the Cabots had watched their business grow, until “it” -– outsourcing and extreme price competition –- happened. One by one, they lost their private-label customers. The results were predictably catastrophic for Cabot as the company defaulted on loans and sank deep into debt -– millions of dollars worth --  to Chittenden Bank.

Ric remembers that whole fearful period with great pain. In 2004, the bankers appeared for a meeting. “Anyone you owe money to doesn’t want the debtor to go bankrupt. That day the bankers backed out the door at the end of the meeting," Cabot recalled. "Instead of turning and leaving, they looked back at us and said ‘No surprises.’ If they had just walked straight out, that morning wouldn’t have been seared on my memory."

Ric Cabot at the Darn Tough Vermont Sock Manufacturing Facility


AME Target On-line

The hardest part of outsourcing is reversing it

Patricia E. Moody

You can feel the momentum as automotive assembly plant suppliers, for example, talk about increased demand and new plants in the United States’ new South and Mexico. The pressure to perform is higher than it has ever been. Whether cheap money or heightened interest in reshoring and rebuilding American manufacturing capabilities are the cause, everyone — CEOs, investors, politicos, consultants and, most especially, producers themselves — senses opportunities and great challenges here.

Manufacturing, being a maker, is suddenly popular...The hardest part of outsourcing is reversing it


The Rock and the Shoe

Patricia E. Moody

You can ignore that cold draft sneaking in under the winter door, and just cram a rolled bath towel against the opening.  You can ignore the slight hesitation every time you press down on the accelerator; that is until your gas mileage drops to 9 miles per gallon and climbing into third gear hurts.  You can ignore the dulled talk radio chatter in your neighbor’s cubicle until your callers wonder just what in the heck is going on there behind the phone. 

But like drafty doors and leaky cylinders, there are some things that won’t be ignored.  My old friend at Honda, Rick Mayo, told me one of his favorite stories: “The Rock and The Shoe.”   MORE The Rock and The Shoe

Industry Week:  

 7 Thought Leaders Share Their Predictions

It was the year 2000, and we three manufacturing geeks -- we called ourselves the "White Socks Guys" -- were the skunks at the garden party, an Aspen futurist gathering of experts drawn from politics, the media and technology assembled to talk about trends and, in particular, the U.S.’s New Economy.

Madeleine Albright was there, and Bill Clinton flew in to deliver a high-ticket speech. The hot topic was globalization... We were outnumbered.

Click Industry WeekHERE for Predictions from Microsoft's Mike Opal, packaging guru Kevin Howard, MIT's Simchi-Levi, SAP CEO McDermott, Baxter the Robot and his Humanoid Jim Lawton, analytics guru David Armstrong, and Cloud expert Thomas Trappler


Paging Dr. Lean for Solutions


According to packaging guru Professor Diana Twede at Michigan State, packaging engineer Kevin Howard earned a bucket of gold stars when in a breakthrough creativity moment he dreamed up a new way for HP to ship Deskjet printers — pallet-less.  Not only did his concept reduce the weight, and therefore shipping costs for HP and its customers, but it took logistics and packaging on a whole new path toward “self-packing” designs.  MORE DESIGNING FROM THE OUTSIDE IN


Paging Dr. Lean to...

Seattle Children’s Hospital

Beach: We use the FedEx model.

Seattle Children’s Hospital used classic supply management, Japanese shop floor methods and 4P to save money, free up clinicians for more bedside care and build its new, smaller facility. That’s right, they got better and smaller!

Greg Beach, senior director of supply chain at Seattle Children’s Hospital, is one of those rare health care transformation executives whose best friends are doctors and nurses and whose culture change work hasn’t gotten him fired....MORESeattle Children's



The Quest to Simplify Manufacturing IT

Winners Dream, by Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP

  When Bill McDermott’s little brother Kevin, 6 feet tall and 225 pounds, hefted the 6-foot, 2-inch, 165-pound Bill, outfitted in one of his two $99 suits, and carried him through 4 feet of flood water to their Dad, who was waiting to drive the future CEO to the train, it was all part of the promise, part of the dream.

“When did you first make this dream your goal?” I asked McDermott, now CEO of SAP, the world’s third largest software company. “It was on the train ride in,” he explained. “I wanted to be the next David Kearns (Xerox’ CEO 1982 to 1990).”

But it wasn’t just that train ride. McDermott, as you’ll learn in his book, Winners Dream, A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office, had prepped his whole life for that first big Xerox dream, and the next and the next... MORE


The Mill Girl Returns to Briggs & Stratton Thirty Years After America's First JIT Pilot..

Industry Week  3-part series on the transformation of a century-old American icon:

When Stephen Foster Briggs and Harold Mead Stratton partnered to mass produce their first product, a two-cycle six cylinder auto engine in 1908, they launched a journey that took this American icon through generations of manufacturing in the heartland, heartbreak and hope, big technology, and workforce challenges, until, over one hundred years and several transformations later, a new company emerged.  CLICK:


Lessons in Using the Five Senses from  Sensei Teruyuki Maruo

Patricia E. Moody, AME Target On-line


         “Gemba is a gold mine,”  Teruyuki Maruo

If you were led blindfolded onto a working production floor, would you be able to sniff out the problem areas?  Could you immediately pinpoint the exact causes of bad quality and late shipments with your eyes closed? 

When Teruyuki Maruo launched Honda’s production system, there was great pressure to immediately achieve high performance in supplier quality and deliveries from the company’s new North American supply base.  MORE


Need a break from the blue screen of death?  CLICK A DOSE OF POSITIVITYNESS

Look closely (or click on the image) and you will see a heron on the rocks at Cordingly Dam in Newton, Massachusetts, not far from the Mass Turnpike Extension!  Photo by Jim Lawton, Chief Marketing Officer at Rethink Robotics.


Paging Dr. Lean: Do You Prefer the Purple or the Blue Gloves?Jason Hirsbrunner

How Christie Clinic cut complexity and saved money without ticking off the docs

Jason Hirsbrunner: Just one more battle in the “this is the way we have been doing it” campaign.

I can think of two big health care institutions where the doctors fought the elimination of their favorite — but redundant — supplies, and in the battle for freedom of choice over dictated spend reduction, guess who won?  Do You Prefer The Purple or the Blue Gloves?



Photo courtesy of Grand Rapids Business Journal

Firstronic CEO John Sammut explains his strategy for building an electronics company that manufactures in the U.S. -- near ailing Detroit, no less! -- and exports to Korea, China, Mexico and India. Three-part Industry Week Online series -

Part 2: Workforce, How Firstronic Grows Its Own

Part 3: Leveraging IT for Competitive US Production


why not bring in the robots, sit back and let the machines do all the work?

The numbers are in, and they are shocking — 14,135 robots valued at $788 million, or $55,000 per robot, were ordered from North American robot producers in the first half of 2014, an increase in sales that smashed the previous record and raises new questions for manufacturers.

Money is cheap and companies are sitting on a lot of it. So why not bring in the robots, sit back and let the machines do all the work?  Dick Morley, serial entrepreneur and creator of the programmable logic controller (PLC) said.. MORE

"Let the data lead you..."
 Shewhart Award winner and Rath and Strong guru Dorian Shainin pounded it into us.... and that's the way we like to look at how well companies are running their operations.  We love these numbers!  Net profit tells us so much about systems, leadership, strategies and managing costs, especially purchasing spend.  With the exception of GM and Ford, each company showed Gross Profit Margins of approximately 20%, so the differences in Net Profit Margins say much about efficiencies and systems.  "Let the data lead you..."

                        Dec. 2013          March 2014   June 2014 Sept 2014  Dec 2015
Honda            5.32%                5.51                  4.90                4.71          3.43
Toyota            7.98                    4.52                 9.20                8.22         8.56
Nissan            3.75                    4.1                    6.25                 4.89         4.23
Volkswagen   4.58                     5.01                4.72                  6.87     (3.36) Sept 
Ford                 8.21                     2.76                3.50                 2.39         6.60
GM                   2.57                      0.57                 .70                  3.75       15.81
Tesla                                                                                             (8.77)     (26.4)
BMW                                                                                                              7.04

Honda Production System/BP sensei Teruyuki Maruo on Leadership:
         Being a leader is very difficult.  The leader has to have teaching abilities.  If he is not able to teach the leaders of his team, they are not going to be able to trust him.  The leader needs to have confidence in evaluating members of his team, and he needs to provide them with direction.                                                                                                    

"For those who think of
Toyota as the leader in lean thinking, here's a colorful explanation of how Honda's "racing spirit" is creating a truly lean enterprise in North America.  Nelson, Mayo, and Moody provide a step-by-step plan for building a smoothly-flowing value stream from raw materials into the arms of the customer.  Anyone who can't follow their simple instructions (and who doesn't get on the case immediately after putting this book down) has little chance of staying in the race.

James Womack, President, Lean Enterprise Institute, co-author Lean Thinking and The Machine That Changed the World.  CLICK Powered by Honda, Developing Excellence in the Global Enterprise


Paging Dr. Lean for Solutions

Training and Development for The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Who's gonna run the machines that make the machines?

What Kind of Learner Are You?  Is on-line digital or human contact - or a mix -   the answer?

We all love TED talks  (see How to Deliver a TED Talk), Netflix and YouTube, and the list of online communities grows every day. But for the kind of training and workforce development the U.S. really needs as we bring back manufacturing and scale-up to fill those vacant 600,000 manufacturing jobs, what’s the most effective way to deliver just the right amount of just the right topics to a diverse workforce? ...



Flash Forward: A #FutureBuy Perspective from The Mill Girl at Blue Heron Journal

Posted by Patricia Moody on Tuesday, 03 June 2014 in Guest Posts

Editor's Note: On May 1st, Buyers Meeting Point issued an Open Call for predictions about the future of procurement as part of the #FutureBuy project I am working on with Jon Hansen (Procurement Insights, PI Window on the World). We welcome all predictions, either as comments to our posts on the subject, guest submissions, or posts on Twitter flagged with our #FutureBuy hashtag.  Kelly Barner, Buyers Meeting Point

The New Monroe Doctrine:  The US and Mexico reach a new geopolitical arrangement, beyond Nafta, beyond immigration, that leverages the resources of Mexico - workforce, manufacturing centers, oil, and in combination with Canada's oil, redefines and strengthens  The Americas' global trade powerhouse.  Other American countries follow.  ... FOR MORE FUTURE FLASHES CLICK ON GUEST POSTS ABOVE

Paging Dr. Lean for Healthcare Solutions

Christie Clinic CEO Alan Gleghorn spoke with Blue Heron Journal about what he views as the three biggest health care challenges... "My grandfather, Henry Gleghorn, was passionate about fruit trees," he said. "Grandpa lived in Seymour, TX, not the best place to grow fruit." But Gleghorn thought about his Grandpa and how he planted and cared for his orchard, and when the younger Gleghorn was faced with instituting continuous improvement and culture change at Christie Clinic, he remembered what Grandpa said...CLICK  Show Me Your Orchard


 Honorary Doctorate Commencement Address

A Mother's Day Remembrance, and a message for the  graduating's that time of year again... milestones 

And thank you to some other people whom you will never meet:

Japanese flowering quince in
full bloom on Mother's Day,
 grown from a shoot cut from
 her plant, some 30+ yrs
after her passing at age 55
 from a very rare and very
fatal cancer, reticular cell
 sarcoma. I was 24.

First of all to my mother.  Thank you Mumma.   My mother had an 8th grade education.  She worked in a shoe shop for 7 years until she married – she picked up a heel, brushed cement on it, and tapped it in place. Pick up a heel, slather on some cement and tap in in place.  Pick up a heel….for 7 years.    She knew education was going to be important for me.  She didn’t understand the how or the specifics, but she knew it was for survival.

 You see, I have a hard time learning new things...  I always fail in my first attempt – my first pass at Dick and Jane, my first driver’s test, my first accounting exam, my first typing test, my first marriage, my first attempt to learn tennis, my first book – it’s a long list, and we only have 15 minutes. MORE


Mark Steele foresees parity of labor costs signaling increased competitiveness for the U.S. He is a private equity veteran and specialist in “Reputational RebuildsSM,” and is the CEO of Skyware Global. He predicts that reshoring and near-shoring trends will ultimately drive improvements... CLICK Re-shoring/in-shoring New Challenges

Paging Dr. Lean for Technology Tools

Isn’t there a better way?



By Patricia E. Moody


We’re seeing an explosion of powerful technology tools, from dashboards, to Cloud services and real-time network algorithms.  But are they doable and do they make a difference?  The answer is yes to both questions, but for supply management and manufacturing, new tools, like optimization, require newer, better decisions.   

Quentin Samelson, Nokia supply management exec and Motorola veteran,  says that technology tools hold enormous opportunity for industry. In supply management, Samelson sees a second round of interest in optimization, this time as a tool that can bring real benefits. 


On 03/23/14 9:47 PM, Subhajit G. wrote:
Hi Patricia....will you please help me getting this answer??
how to estimate the cost for implementing optimization tools in an organization in different links of supply chain. Is the cost for any department is dependent on the cost of implementing in other department


Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me

Four tech leaders predict the future of high-tech manufacturing, innovation and the road back to success


... all across the manufacturing  landscape, people feel they have "been down so long it looks like up to me" – shell-shocked by off-shoring, down-sizing and bad government moves, their eyes clouded over and they lost their vision.

And that's a shame, because they are missing the good news all around them: low inflation, cheap money, even cheaper technology, a steady stream of tech and machine innovation, U.S. companies taking back manufacturing and exporting a bigger share of product, an oil boom right here in the Americas.

It's enough to make a Mill Girl jump up at her machine and cheer. Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me



So you're thinking of writing a book.... Great idea!  But....

Ten Tacky Signs that your book was self-published from The Mill Girl at Blue Heron Journal  more


Healthcare Predictions for 2014 -

It’s been a long year, and we’ve all had enough pain to last us through “The Next Healthcare Revolution.” But at 17 percent of the U.S. GDP, one third of which is administrative costs, it gets personal — real personal. Even as the principles of lean manufacturing are applied to healthcare throughput, paperwork and facility design, progress has been too slow... there is truly much good data out there..we could use a little vision, some wisdom and some wild and crazy prognostications to comfort us.

Andy Coutu
Andy Coutu

First, good news for those of us who need organs and joints refreshed, just in time...Andy Coutu, President of R & D Technologies Inc., said that the next three to five years will see producers perfect their 3D Additive Manufacturing skills... “Within the next three to five years, the industry predicts the percentage will increase to 27 percent. Companies such as Stratasys will hit the $1 billion mark, and the street predicts that 3D printing companies’ (Stratasys and 3D Systems) stock will remain on the buy list.” Good news for healthcare, where hopeful rumblings about replacement organs and joints have the market’s attention. “It will be awhile before the FDA approves these printed body parts, but right now they are jetting out human tissue through 3D printers. With stem cell, fatty tissue and DNA, who knows where this will go?” CLICK HERE FOR MORE Healthcare Predictions for 2014

Wow, two years later, 2016,  I have to say it wasn't over but at least I'm walking.  I'll explain later...

2014, THE FIRST DAY, IT'S GOING TO BE A BETTER YEAR, A GOOD YEAR... fried egg with ham and a little cheddar on raisin bagel with latte, and Jimi Hendrix "Let me stand next to your fire."  It was a longggg year and it's over... it's over.  Made all my deadlines, did the RailTrail (no cars) on hybrid, almost never walk like a penguin, doctor died, got a trainer and PT coach, December saw NY Polyphony, my goal since last Christmas,  with my family in a snowstorm at Columbia with new titanium-tipped walking stick- DON'T YOU JUST LOVE THAT TITANIUM!   A Mill Girl at Blue Heron Journal


Commentary from The Mill Girl

Microsoft Cloud Visionary Mike Opal asks
"Are you The Perfect Pumpkin?"
As big data proliferates, manufacturers find themselves competing in a vast, expanding field of options. Companies that fail to establish what makes them special and build their businesses around it will be left behind. 

Where are you on Cloud Analytics and The Connected Enterprise?
More devices breed more data, which breeds more actionable business intelligence.  For the full interview: Executive Interview: The Future According to Microsoft Cloud Visionary Mike Opal 

DRILL BITS!  3D ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING, says Enterprise Tech on-line, will reach $6B by 2017:

bluefire"According to additive manufacturing authority Terry Wohlers, efforts such as these are playing into a boom from the industry’s current value at $2.2 billion to $6 billion by 2017. For many companies, additive manufacturing is used primarily for rapid prototyping, but increasingly manufacturers of all sizes are using it to offer customized designs at a low cost to the consumer.

'We are indeed experiencing a very dramatic paradigm shift in manufacturing worldwide,' said BlueFire Chairman and CEO William A. Blackwell."


AND YET ANOTHER MILESTONE!  One year after The Unfortunate Incident with the Stairs, beyond daily PT and fitness classes, CrankyBitch is sending out a big thank you to all who forwarded Positivityness Messages - beautiful photos, videos, cards, flowers, Godiva chocolates, music, a Jambox,  one pair of new boots, prayers - every bit helped.  Never depressed, just felt I was at the bottom of a deep well, challenged to relearn how to walk.  And now happily working on re-programming those neural pathways so that when my head says "pivot and step," my foot doesn't go "duh..." 

Psalm 17:5  My steps have held fast to thy paths, My feet have not slipped

Sign me Crazy Lucky.  


Healing Health Care

Jay Fulkerson, president and CEO of Health Payment Systems and a UnitedHealthcare veteran, is a health care pioneer doing some very cool things in claims administration
technology. The Mill Girl spoke with Fulkerson about what the company is doing to solve the big, messy billing problem that dominates health care. For providers, employers and consumers alike, the current claims process is confusing, burdensome and intimidating.  

 CLICK HEREExecutive Interview with Jay Fulkerson


Solidscape - Made in The Americas Innovation, One Layer, One Industry at a Time

When Royden Sanders’ professors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute concluded that their student’s thesis was “too complicated,” like other later dropouts — Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Ted Turner, Mark Zuckerberg — Sanders walked. And he went on to create even bigger and more complicated devices and operations...  CLICK HERE:Solidscape: Celebrating a Legacy of Innovation One Layer, One Industry at a Time



The Mill Girl asks lean experts to answer your questions. This forum allows industry leaders to speak to the lean issues or questions you come across each day.
  Send your questions for Dr. Lean to

Paging Dr. Lean to Cut Healthcare Costs,
  Executive Interview with Cardinal Health VP Bill Owad

The Mill Girl: What is the biggest opportunity that you now see in health care to simplify and reduce costs?

Owad: ...coordinating care from end to end...  opportunities in six big buckets... Healing HealthcareMORE

Note:  In Nov. 2012, Gartner named Cardinal Health number one in supply chain, with Mayo Clinic coming in second: - .

Paging Dr. Lean for New Product Development

Dear Dr. Lean:

My company participates in a new product development consortium to exchange ideas and work through better new product approaches. .... What we don't know is if we can change the gates in the health care value stream to speed up the whole cycle. In the end, all the customer really cares about is getting his equipment tomorrow.

What should we do?  Where should we start?

An Innovator


Paging Dr. Lean for Logistics Savings

Dear Dr. Lean:

My back hurts and my arms are numb. I work as a logistics supervisor in an old-school operation. We do a lot of expedites, premium shipments, workarounds, and heavy lifting ... I just don't think we can go much longer doing it this way.  Paging Dr. Lean for Logistics SavingsMORE 


Paging Dr. Lean for Cost Measurement Solutions

Dear Dr. Lean:

We are trying to be more rigorous about measuring costs, but we have disagreements about the numbers —  We need help on these three questions... THREE COST EXPERTS RESPOND TO "TOO MANY NUMBERS IN CHICAGO"...MORE


Dr. Lean Prescription:  Develop an Attitude for Gratitude on Your Lean Journey

Dear Dr. Lean:

We've been steadily implementing lean in our plant for the past three years... But lately, there have been some outside issues  seem to be impacting our plans.

The economy finally got to us...  MORE


Paging Dr. Lean Healthcare Solutions from from Healthcare Reform Pioneers Dr. John Toussaint and Cindy Jimmerson

Dr. Lean - Why is it that when I go to the doctor I feel like a car going down an assembly line?
... MORE


Healing Healthcare


When Jim Womack told me in 1997 that he was thinking of tackling the healthcare system because he had seen unfortunate events happen to his father-in-law, I told him “It’s a swamp, you’ll sink.”  ...  17% of our GNP, of which fully 1/3 represents administrative costs -  we might ask, “Why NOT healthcare?”

Healing Healthcare, Cindy Jimmerson Interview

  Cindy Jimmerson, lean healthcare pioneer and former nurse - she's got street cred -  lives in a canyon along the Big Blackfoot River, the setting for the film A River Runs Through It, .. got her start in Lean doing research for the National Science Foundation “Innovation in Industry.” ...MORE


Paging Dr. Lean is brought to you by Patricia E. Moody, The Mill Girl at Blue Heron Journal. Submit your Paging Dr. Lean questions to Stay tuned as more lean experts answer your questions.



Copyright Patricia E. Moody ( 2016,  All rights reserved.  

<!-- Go to to customize your tools --> <script type="text/javascript" src="//"></script> 

Embed gadget

Subpages (37): View All