D’Addario, a company from Long Island New York, is in the business of making guitar strings and straps. Under the direction of their CEO, Jim D’Addario, they have seen a lot of changes in the last two years. They have embraced lean by cutting inventory, stream lining the factory operations, implementing new technology, and saving jobs. The company has installed automation equipment to help keep the jobs in New York rather than China. They were featured on CNN, you can view the lean automation video here.
Their lean model is based on Toyota’s waste reduction strategy. Toyota is known for leading the example in Lean. The video mentions that “lean relies heavily on automation.” The terms “lean” and “automation” do not rely on each other. Lean is known as the practice of reducing waste. Automation may be a choice made by a company to try and become lean, but it’s not required. Automation equipment can be very costly and not as flexible as an organization might hope for. Automation equipment can be justified if the same part is made over and over thousands of times. D’Addario is certainly heading in a good direction if they are seeing progress in reducing their costs, saving the jobs, and creating a more satisfying place to work. They are able to train someone to do something else as the machine takes their previous role. Let the machines take the simplistic jobs and allow people to take on more challenging work.
D’Addario’s guitar strap division has managed to keep their business here in Long Island, New York. Under the threat of the current economy and the temptation to send cheap product overseas, D’Addario is working hard to maintain their business. Peter Morici, an economist from Univ. of Maryland, mentioned in the video that “more can be done in the U.S.” He is right. In order to strengthen the dollar and create a strong economy, the American people need to produce more and consume less. Almost every product you pick up in the store has the Made In China stamp. We need to be working on getting our products to say Made In the U.S.A. Every business ought to be looking at their products made in China and work on solutions to bring it back home. Many companies decide to go with China, because it’s “easier” than automating. We need to be creative and find solutions to keep the jobs here. We have plenty of capable American people who are willing to put their minds at work to add real dollars to our economy. Many companies are doing what they can by becoming leaner without cutting their work force.
D’Addario is on track to continue making progress. As a company begins the journey of defining their lean system they begin to understand what lean really means and how it’s not just about reducing costs. Lean is really about creating a better place for people to work. Employees who feel satisfied and happy about their contributions begin to engage themselves in the success of the company and the quality of its products. Once an organization understands what lean is, they will come to realize their journey has just begun.