Meeting in Paris with Pen Pals Philip Marris and Christian Hohmann

Philip Marris and Christian Hohmann have been on-line pen pals of mine for years, but we had never actually met. My visit to Paris this week was the opportunity to fix this and trade manufacturing war stories for four hours while having dinner at the landmark La Coupole restaurant.

Both Philip and Christian Doc - Mar 1, 2014, 10-55 AMhave been consulting as long as I have and are authors of books about Lean in French. Philip is an Englishman who speaks French without even a trace of an accent, and writes in French. He describes his own book,  Le Management Par Les Contraintes, as “very boring,” because, unlike Eli Goldratt’s The Goal, it is focussed on technical nitty-gritty rather than entertainment. As I told him, this is my favorite kind.

Christian Hohmann has written the following four books:

He has also posted 50 short videos on Youtube. I first approached Christian 15 years ago, when writing Lean Assembly. I had found a picture of an electronics assembly line that he had posted. I wanted to use it in the book, and it had some features I did not understand. I asked him and he gave both the answer and permission to use the picture. When I thanked him this week, he had forgotten about it.

A French government agency report on Lean and Safety | EU-OSHA

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing

“The implementation of this organizational model of production [Lean] may result if certain conditions are not met, in a deterioration of the workers´ health (musculoskeletal disorders, psychosocial risks, accidents).”

Michel Baudin‘s insight:

This document, from a French government agency, asserts that the implementation of Lean could make saferty worse in French plants. This might suggest that, without Lean, safety in French plants is adequate.

Lean is debated in France with the zero-sum assumption that, if you improve productivity and quality, it can only be at the expense of something else, usually safety. The idea that you can improve all dimensions of performance at the same time is not accepted.

My experience of French plants is of safety levels that are perhaps higher than China’s but a far cry from what you see in Japan or the US. The accidents waiting to happen range from people and forklifts sharing space without marked aisles, wine served in factory cafeterias, slick floors in metal working shops, operator jobs that require long carries of heavy parts,…

While it is conceivable that a poor Lean implementation could make this even worse, a reasonably good one is guaranteed to improve on this dismal situation, simply by paying long overdue attention to the details of operator job designs. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the INRS summary of recommendations, but they are already part of Lean.

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