Humans get strange ideas in their minds that cannot be shaken by facts and truth. Such as any new idea for improving efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability of manufacturing will cost people their jobs.

It is part of popular mythology that automation puts people out of work. This idea is so prevalent that even MIT economics professors run math to try to prove it. (See previous post.)

Then I interviewed Bob Argyle, co-founder and CCO of Leading2Lean, who mentioned “People say Lean cuts jobs, but it actually saves jobs.”

Leading2Lean is a Lean-based company that has developed an implementation software that engages plant floor workers and changes the way they approach their jobs by delivering real-time actionable IoT data and methods that reveal the root causes of production bottlenecks. This allows everyone to problem-solve and create a sustainable culture of continuous improvement.

I related to Argyle that when I put together the first issue of Automation World back in early 2003 I wanted to interview a Lean expert. The gentleman asked why I would interview him since automation was antithetical to Lean. I told him that I thought there was a place where each could use the other. Hence, the Leading2Lean software.

Argyle gave me the history of his Lean journey beginning at AutoLiv, a supplier of air bags to the auto industry. The customer sent a “sensei” to teach Lean methodology–also known as the Toyota Production System. Responding to my automation comment, Argyle said, “Sensei never said computers are bad, but he taught us to improve the process before adding computers. Use automation to reduce process waste.”

Just what I was taught in my first computer applications class in 1977. Know your process first, then improve the process, then add digitalization.

Use data to capture critical data, Argyle told me. And use automation appropriately for the right thing to do in the particular process. Use it to remove waste, and for safety, quality, and efficiency.

We had to cut the interview, but they offered some specific customer stories that detail the benefits of the integration of computers and Lean.

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