Well thank you for that real-world perspective, Battar. There are always two sides to every story and while it's certainly a good thing to try to improve efficiency and reduce cost if possible, it's interesting to know the true effect of such efforts, and how it changes or affects how things already are done.
OK, Elizabeth, I didn't spell it out in my comment, but the unavoidable truth about lean manufacturing is that I can produce the same output either in less time or with less hands (usually the former). It doesn't mean that I can significantly increase my customer base - my competitors are doing the same, so the playing field evens out. It does mean that we have less employment to offer our workhands, and eventually it means some of them looking for a new job. So it's not all sweetness and light. Of course, it does shave a few bucks off the cost of the product.
Well it's good to hear your company is going leaner, Battar. I suppose it isn't always greener, but I think if you look at the big picture, any cutback on waste is probably good for the environment somehow. As you point out, it might be tougher for some unionized companies to drive efficiency, let alone be more green! But lean is a good start.
We're going lean at our company. Greener it isn't, more a case of "how come nobody thought of that before...?". However, we are a small private comapny so we can do this. Let's see any of you get the "efficiency" word past the unions without trouble.
Rob, this is a really good comprehensive look at how things are changing in manufacturing on many levels as part of a real evolution happening at the moment. It's good to see more leaner processes and technologies coming into play, especially to reduce waste. So things are not only leaner but also greener, which is a very good thing!