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Tool Could Help Improve Manufacturing Productivity

January 31, 2005

Two Virginia Tech researchers have developed an innovative computational tool that can help manufacturers improve productivity within their organization.

The Lean Decision Support Tool (LDST), developed by Frank Chen, John L. Lawrence Professor in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, and Hung-da Wan, a Virginia Tech graduate student in the Center for High Performance Manufacturing, guides users through an eight step process that can help create a “leaner” organization.

“Lean Manufacturing” has proven to be an effective concept in promoting productivity in manufacturing to a higher level. “Our tool assesses the leanness of a manufacturing organization, identifies the current state and urgent targets, and provides lean implementation guidelines,” said Prof. Chen.

Data collection, analysis, and reported results are executed by an easy to use web-based program. With Internet access, the Lean Decision Support Tool provides fully interactive, supportive information to manufacturers anywhere, whenever it is needed.

The process begins with a survey questionnaire which collects data for analysis. An assessment model translates survey answers into quantitative outputs and qualitative decision support information. The quantitative output report provides the “leanness” scores, which give the users a big picture of their performance on lean implementation. Moreover, it identifies the current phase of the organization on the roadmap to become lean, and evaluates the urgency of current targets.

The qualitative reports provide detailed information on the urgent targets, future targets, as well as improvement suggestions to assist users to tackle the problems and to advance in the lean journey.

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