The Difference Between Realizing Average Performance and Achieving Excellence

Discrete manufacturers face constant pressure to deliver a quality product on time, every time. Economic fluctuations, compliance mandates, skilled labor shortages, and the ever increasing costs of operation are only a few of the complexities manufacturers face every day.

Commonly it is found that owners and senior executives of small to mid-size manufacturers achieving higher levels of process consistency and operational excellence share the following characteristics;

  1. They have developed a business blueprint, or what most call a Strategic Business Plan.
  2. They have a clearly define Organizational Structure that is shared with and know to all employees.
  3. They have developed Operational Support Systems combining the benefits of Lean and the Power of ERP. The objective of these systems is to support and make efficient all the activities of the organization.
  4. They have established Training and Job Enrichment programs as well as incentive compensation plans that are designed to encourage each associate to improve and contribute.
  5. They Reward Performance by rewarding those who consistently contribute to continuous improvement and positive results. Most importantly, it also disciplines those who deviate from acceptable behavior. Positions, tasks, duties and responsibilities are defined and communicated and performance is routinely measured.

Setting the foundation in place!

A Strategic Business Plan clearly describes the business concept, the business mission and the owner’s or company’s philosophy of business. This document also sets forth personal and corporate goals with specific timelines and the recommended strategies to achieve them.

The Organizational structure must include all the company’s policies and procedures as well as the positions, tasks, duties and responsibilities of the employees. This should be designed to encourage all employees to perform to their utmost capabilities and carefully communicated throughout the company at regular intervals.

A Seamless Collaboration!

The Operational Support system has a significant impact on how training and job enrichment programs as well as the performance reward programs are structured.  Well structured, they also relieve management of many day-to-day routine activities, giving owners more time to be strategic thinkers.

Lean, a western adaptation of the Toyota Production System (TPS), is often considered to be an efficiency and productivity improvement practice. But the true TPS philosophy is founded on the singular focus of value added. To become Lean, a company must take a hard look at processes and practices to identify those things that truly add value for the customer and eliminate those that do not. The continuous pursuit of waste elimination is the essence of Lean. Production processes and activities alike can be directly addressed in this value vs. non-value added campaign. And it does not stop there! Lean can and should extend beyond the shop floor. Indirect activities such as logistics, administration, engineering, and warehousing, as well as other non-manufacturing activities can benefit as much from Lean thinking.

As Lean thinking has evolved and the concepts broadened, Lean advocates have come to recognize that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Lean work together very well – each supporting and enabling the most important objectives of the other. Likewise, leaders in ERP technology development today advise enterprises to recognize the fact that the manufacturing world is getting…Leaner.

In essence, Lean becomes the culture or behavior of the company and the ERP system become the central nervous system by which the company responds. With the ERP system carrying the definitions, the data, a record of the activities of the organization, and providing the measurement system for determining where opportunities for improvement lie – it also provides the measuring progress of efforts to know where to effectively apply Lean to further reduce and eliminate waste.

Caution – Don’t “go it” alone!

Reaching out to a trusted business improvement partner to realize your full potential has become a natural response for many small to mid-size manufacturing companies. Lean and ERP deployments alike require extensive system knowledge and strong change management skills to achieve success. Business improvement partners with expertise in both Lean and ERP will ensure conflict does not become a roadblock to achieving excellence.

About the author: Michael Canty is the Business Unit Director for Synergy Resources Business Performance Solutions group. Throughout his thirty plus years of service he has used his vast business knowledge and by applying various strategies, technologies, tools and methodologies, helped a large number of manufacturing companies develop and implement effective business strategies and processes leading to improved operational performance.

About Synergy Resources: Synergy is a privately held company headquartered in New York that has partnered with manufacturing companies for more than 20 years. Synergy specializes in providing products and services to help improve the overall business performance of manufacturing companies. With offices throughout North America, Synergy has more than 90 industry tested employees supporting 700+ customers.

Synergy’s Business Performance Solutions team provides strategic business planning services and advice to executive level management teams. The Professional Service team provides ‘best practice’ operational and financial services, supports software application training and deployment, and delivers hands-on Lean, TOC (Theory of Constraints) and Quality services.

Synergy’s Project Management Office (PMO) provides dedicated project management support to oversee our Clients programs and projects to ensure scope is maintained, schedules are achieved and budgets are managed. The Technical Services Group administers Synergy’s Cloud hosting program, supports product installation and data migration needs and has a dedicated programming team that develop ERP product extensions to support customer needs.


Check out Mark Lilly’s Lean Scheduling article in the NTMA’s Newsletter!

Synergy’s Mark Lilly, Partner and Director of Sales & Marketing wrote the article, LEAN Scheduling: How to Apply Key LEAN Concepts to Improve On-Time Delivery. It is featured in the March issue of NTMA’s monthly newsletter, The RECORD. Please click here and go to page 25 to read the full article!



Synergy’s Mark Lilly presented at the Mantec Business Growth Conference!

Synergy’s Partner and Director of Sales & Marketing, Mark Lilly, presented at the Mantec Business Growth Conference in Harrisburg, PA today.  His presentation topic was “Using LEAN and ERP Software for World Class Performance” which was very well received by the audience.  In addition, Synergy sponsored an exhibit table which was staffed by Synergy team members to meet with conference attendees.

For more information on Mantec, please click here.

How Lean Consulting Can Help Grow Your Business

There are many different tactics or strategies your manufacturing business could use to streamline process and increase efficiencies of shop performance. In addition to exploring concepts like Six Sigma and Kaizen, your company could benefit greatly from working with a strategic business services company that specializes in Lean consulting.

Lean practices are based on the principles of elimination of waste and continuous improvement, with the belief that even in small efficiencies will add up to significant cost savings over time. Wasteful components or procedures that increase process cycles in a business workflow increase unnecessary expenses and make organizations less efficient. Lean practices help reduce process wastes and increase efficiency.

But in order to achieve Lean, a company must first embrace Lean practices, and hiring a company that specializes in Lean consulting is the first step in the pathway towards finding these efficiencies. Only then can your company begin to improve customer satisfaction and most importantly, grow your bottom line.

The Need for Lean Consulting

One of the best reasons to implement a Lean consulting strategy is that Lean experts will be able to spot inefficiencies in your business workflow better than internal warehouse managers and workers will be able to do on their own. Deviations from process will be more obvious to an outsider, whereas internal managers may not notice them if they have become routine.

Andy Pratico, Synergy Resources’ business development manager, likes to describe the concept of Lean in the following fashion:

“Picture a barn. Now picture cows going in the barn. When you see the cows going toward the barn they don’t necessarily go in a straight line. They mosey. They mosey to the left and eat some grass and they mosey to the right and drink some water. Eventually they make it into the barn and go to sleep. You’d think logically they’d go straight in, but they don’t.”

Having spent the past 33 years working with hundreds of manufacturers all over North America, Pratico says the simple concept of cow’s moseying into a barn is the perfect metaphor for the inefficient processes or deviations from standard processes that can lead a company to need Lean consulting services.

Inefficiencies often develop over time, as a company structure experiences change—such as growth in personnel, product offerings and jobs. Companies that fail to account for these changes and adjust their processes accordingly are left to mosey.

These small changes in company structure or process create layers of what Pratico calls constraints. These constraints compound the complexity within the operation and in turn can result in a company to find a work-around, which leads to inefficient processes—aka moseying.

The Long-Term Impact of Lean Consulting

Many companies make the mistake of implementing work-arounds that simply solve for the short term, without any regard for the future.

Companies that are focused on the Lean principle of continual improvement will address changes head-on with the help of a Lean consulting service. Instead of finding a temporary work-around that develops into a long-term inefficiency, they can adjust the process to address these new constraints with a better long-term solution.

However, if your company is considering implementing Lean, don’t just assume it will be a one and done type of scenario. It’s quite the contrary actually.

The Lean concept is and should be synonymous with continuous improvement, or as Pratico likes to say, “It’s not a destination, it’s a journey.”

Implemented properly, Lean can help you achieve the following:

  • Greater productivity
  • Greater throughput
  • Improved quality
  • Reduced cycle times
  • Smoother operation
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Reduced waste

Lean and ERP: An Unstoppable Force

Many companies think buying an ERP software will help them sort out all of the inefficiencies in their shop performance. While ERP is an effective solution, Pratico believes it’s really only part of the solution.

“ERP is only a tool, Lean helps sharpen the tool,” says Pratico.

Instead of thinking of each solution individually, ERP and Lean should go hand in hand. Unless you implement Lean along with ERP you’re never going to get the benefits you’re looking for.

Many business owners make the error of assuming that once they have reached the optimum level of process efficiency; they can now sit back and relax. But as you can see, a commitment to Lean means a commitment to continuous improvement. Lean simplifies your process and gets rid of waste. And the simpler your operation is, the easier it is to keep it streamlined. Don’t wait until things get too complex. Proactively implementing Lean strategies can prevent you from headaches later on.

Synergy Resources’ continuous improvement services team offers Lean consulting that can help you define the persistent problems your organization is facing and resolve them before it’s too late. It is important to apply the appropriate solution when it is required the most. Contact us today to find out how your organization can achieve continuous improvement in the most cost-effective and well-planned manner.

Lean Quality Management – An Absolute Phenomenon!

Lean manufacturing first began at the Toyota factory in Japan and it is now one of the most talked about concepts in the field of manufacturing. So, what does lean quality manufacturing mean?

Lean quality management entails putting maximum focus on customers and treating them as the most important part of a business. This method strives to achieve the twin goals of minimizing waste and maximizing value. The idea is to assign more value to those products that customers pay for. Everything else is treated as a waste and eliminated from the process of manufacturing process.

Synergy Resources feels that it is incumbent upon us to let you know how the need for lean manufacturing was felt in the first place. There are two aims of this new marketing cum manufacturing approach – Firstly, strive for customer satisfaction and secondly, do the same in a profitable way. Every aspect of lean manufacturing is concerned with these two aims and customer satisfaction is given the most importance.

In the Lean Quality management model, anything that doesn’t offer value to the customer is cast off as useless. Unless and until customers insist on the inclusion of that something specifically, lean manufacturing eliminates it, resulting in the increasing efficiency throughout all processes. Sometimes Companies act hastily using lean principles without consideration of customer needs. This can cause a change that can best be described as unwarranted. Therefore, it is important that the question “why” is asked before the implementation of any lean principles. The lean manufacturing experts at Synergy Resources, devise effective strategies avoiding these potential mistakes.

Often, managers act hastily and use lean principles in a business application without bothering to take the customer needs into consideration. This causes a change that can best be described as unwarranted. Therefore, it is important that the question “why” is asked before the implementation of a lean principle. The lean manufacturing consultants working for Synergy Resources avoid making this mistake and they are smart enough to first devise an effective strategy.

Call us anytime to discuss at 1. 866. 896. 6347 and begin your journey to higher quality practices and increased customer satisfaction.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing initially started at Toyota in Japan (The Toyota Production System, TPS), which is now a much talked about concept in the manufacturing industry. So, what does it actually mean? The philosophy of this term is all about focusing on the customer as the most significant part of a business. The methods and processes of such a manufacturing model aim to maximize value, and at the same time, minimize waste! The intent is to add value to a product that customers actually pay for. All other things are considered a waste and should be removed from the manufacturing process.

To understand Lean better, let us talk about why the need for it was felt. There are two main purposes why Lean exists: To achieve customer satisfaction, and to do so in a profitable manner. Every part of Lean centers on the two purposes; with customer satisfaction being primary at all times.

In this model, anything that does not provide a value to the customer is a waste. Unless customers insist on including something specific, lean manufacturing eliminates it. This makes a process more efficient. Quite often, managers work in haste and apply lean principles to a business application, without even considering the customer-need for it. This leads to change, which customers do not expect or desire. Thus, it is important to ask “why” before implementing a lean principle. In this context, Synergy Resources’ lean manufacturing consultants are always there to help you plan your strategy.

Lean manufacturing is also considered to be an environment-friendly process. With efficient and well-planned production, organizations help reduce energy, water and other raw material consumption and expenditures. Additionally, there is lesser hazardous waste disposal, and consequently; a less polluted environment. Lean manufacturing can bring a lot of green-edge to a company. This is an additional benefit that organizations get in the wake of their argument that environment-friendly manufacturing processes are way too expensive and require a big investment into it.

Let’s also take a look at what ‘waste’ processes lean manufacturing eliminates:

  • Over-production – Manufacturing a product more than the required quantity may lead to excess inventory and eventually selling it off at a loss.
  • Inventory management – Piling up excessive items in inventories leads to further expenses of inventory management
  • Transportation – Unnecessary transit of products may damage them, leading to loss.
  • Rework – Ideally, production flow should move in only one direction every time in a seamless manner. Lean eliminates repetitions in the workflow due to corrections or re-work
  • Motion – Non-essential and incorrect motions or movements may cause undue stress or injuries; and can be done away with! Improvements and higher efficiency in this area results in fewer employee injuries and lesser claims for compensation.
  • Processing – Unplanned or unstructured production practices cause manufacturers to additional processes that may not be cost-effective. These can be eliminated with the help of a VISUAL ERP system.
  • Waiting time – In a manufacturing workflow, the equipment operator should have the least or no idle time, as it is a total waste.

By reducing wastes in the above scenarios, organizations can maximize their profits with lesser floor space requirements, reduced operator effort, lesser inventory maintenance and reduced lead time. Waste elimination requires a major understanding of lean manufacturing practices. The experts at Synergy Resources can help you gain by implementing lean manufacturing practices.

Are ERP and LEAN mutually-exclusive?

ERP companies swear by the operational efficiencies that manufacturers attain with the use of software. LEAN purists will say that no software is necessary to deliver performance improvements.

Who’s right?

In the quest to improve the business performance of your company, where do you look for the best answers? We’ve heard the horror stories of multi-milllion dollar mistakes with ERP gone bad. We’ve also heard of LEAN fiascos that taught our people to neaten up the shop floor, and even move some equipment around, but failed to delivery results. But we’ve also seen the case studies of manufacturer’s who’ve grown their companies 5-fold with the use of the right ERP tools. Likewise, the LEAN case studies – with or without software – are often equally if not more dramatic, in terms of the lead time reduction, cost savings through lower WIP, and deliver performance statistics you could take to the bank.

Are ERP and LEAN mutually-exclusive?

Find out the answer!

Ward Leonard holds first Visual ERP Seminar

On June 14, Ward Leonard Connecticut, LLC, held its first Visual ERP Suite Seminar, entitled “Showcasing Achievements, Leveraging the Visual ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Suite.”

Teaming-up with Synergy Resources, a professional consulting services firm which has helped Ward Leonard with employee procedures and training for the Visual ERP software, Ward Leonard demonstrated the uses, benefits, and successful results during the last three years.

Attended by 27 people from 12 companies, the seminar presented an educational and enlightening approach toward technically streamlining business growth and efficiency with the Visual ERP software tools.

“Leveraging means updating and getting the latest tools and technically getting our (company) needs met, to revise and improve the basic operations and various employee responsibilities of the company. This allowed us to grow without increasing the amount of support staff,” said Alan Cash, business analyst for Ward Leonard.

Director of Operational Excellence Neil Haggard said that since Ward Leonard has a very complex business, involved with both Navy Department of Defense and the Oil and Gas industries, the Visual ERP system is “flexible off-the-shelf so it allows us to run our business in multiple ways to handle the work more efficiently for each product line.”

Mr. Haggard added that Ward Leonard’s specific needs for the Visual ERP system were to manage and improve the operational business needs of the company by utilizing Visual for quoting, material, scheduling, financials, quality, time and attendance, forecasting and ECNs.

“It’s a truly integrated system from the quote to production and quality performance results. We’ve been aligning our processes and tools so that everyone’s integrated and using the same system at the same time, allowing for more efficient, consistent productivity and results,” said Mr. Haggard.

Yoram Shahar, vice president of operations for Ward Leonard, looks at things not only from a business perspective, but from the “lean philosophy” approach. Lean is the practice and philosophy that targets reduction of wasteful resources and creates value for the end customer.

With a lean manufacturing and production focus, combined with the integration of the Visual ERP Software, the two processes complement each other resulting in added value and efficiency for businesses such as Ward Leonard.

“Through Synergy and Infor (Enterprise Software Solutions and Applications), the Visual ERP Suite Seminar allows us to network with other  manufacturing businesses and technical industries, associates and individuals who can both help us to develop and improve the way we do things in the day-to-day operations of our company and help attendees get some ideas of how they could use the tools to help their business,” said Mr. Shahar.

Joining the marketplace with competition such as G.E., through the Visual ERP system, optimizing their lead times, customization and streamlining how they do things, Ward Leonard has nearly doubled the size of the business in three years, according to Shahar.

Mr. Shahar added that there was a waiting list of businesses and individuals wanting to attend the seminar and (Ward Leonard) plans to have more seminars in the future.

About Ward Leonard CT LLC
Ward Leonard CT LLC provides highly engineered motors, controls and integrated solutions customized to solve difficult challenges for our customers in the Military, Energy and Heavy Industry worldwide. For more than 120 years, our products have harnessed power for complex, technical and mission-critical infrastructure applications in harsh environments. We are dedicated to total customer support and satisfaction, and to delivering benchmark performance, productivity and durability to our customers. To learn more about our products and services, or to speak with a Ward Leonard engineer, visit