Lean and Mean at the AME

Dave Tucker

Dave Tucker – Sr. Consultant & Project Manager

I recently attended the Association for Manufacturing Excellence Conference in Chicago along with about 2,000+ others.  Another ProModel employee (Andy Schild) and I worked in a booth there alongside a Microsoft Visio Specialist.  Andy & I were there to demonstrate a simulation tool called Process Simulator that works inside of Visio.

I observed two things at the conference that I want to briefly highlight:

1. Lean is still a hot topic in Manufacturing.

2. Astronauts have the best stories.

First – Lean is still a hot topic.  I say this because the AME Conference agenda listed Lean or Lean tool sessions and workshops in 53 out of the 111 topics.  This is strong evidence that manufacturing companies are still eagerly interested in learning how to identify and remove waste from their businesses.  And many companies were there bragging about their success stories!  I also noticed that 26 out of the 45 vendors represented had the word “Lean” plastered somewhere on their booth displays.  Obviously, Lean still sells or vendors would change their approach.  Lean is still hot!  And of course, our company ProModel offers the best predictive analytics technology tools to help organizations identify waste, get Lean, and optimize their processes.

Second – Astronauts have the best stories.  Mark Kelly was the Commander of the final mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour in May 2011.  He is also the husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords who was shot in January 2011 at a rally in Tucson, Arizona.  As the final keynote speaker at the AME Conference, Commander Kelly told about his experiences growing up, serving as a pilot in the Gulf War, and his travels as an astronaut.  He recalled that one night while flying a mission over Iraq during the Gulf War, Kelly narrowly missed being shot down twice within just a few minutes.  As both Russian-made Surface to Air missiles approached separately, Kelly had to roll his F-15 jet thru a series of maneuvers to avoid being blown out of the sky.  Having been seriously rattled by the experience, he decided NOT to fly back home south to his aircraft carrier the same way he had come.  Instead, Kelly flew east over Iran and then started heading south towards the carrier.  After several minutes, he began to hear chatter on his radio that an Iranian pilot was heading towards American forces and was about to be shot out of the sky.  The radio called out the approximate position and airspeed of the Iranian pilot and Kelly thought “What a coincidence, that’s my airspeed and position.”  Two seconds later he realized that HE was the “Iranian pilot.”  So Commander Kelly quickly got on his radio and announced to US Forces “Please do NOT shoot down the Moron flying over Iran.  It’s me.”  Kelly then went on to emphasize the importance of communicating with your team especially when you deviate from the plan.  Again, Astronauts have the best stories!

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