Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Katrina Scare Sparks Anti-Lean Direction

I ran across a couple of frightening articles today. (Must be a Halloween prank, please wake me up from my nightmare!). In the October issue of Logistics Management, they published two pieces that, in my opinion, are promoting anti-lean principles for America's future in our growing complex supply chain. I could not believe what I was reading.

The first piece is an editorial "Are you ready for the next Katrina?" by Executive Editor James Aaron Cooke. In this piece, Mr. Cooke says,"The lean-inventory, just-in-time-delivery supply chain model does not make sense today". All stemming from the supply chain interruption caused by Hurricane Katrina. He goes on to include other Just in Case situations as terrorist attacks and shortages in transportation as reason to go anti-lean. He also states, "stockpiling inventory is only the first step," pertaining to needed actions of disaster-preparedness plans. The scariest part is that I can visualize many American executives nodding their heads in agreement to these scare tactics.

The second article is "Shippers see inventory rising," by Susan K. Lacefield. This article is not as scary and just presents the argument that we should be questioning our lean approach. It is based on current events linking to a survey indicating an increase in inventory by 61% of the respondents. Several statements by people interviewed in this article confirm my opinion that many still do not understand or embrace lean manufacturing principles. What a shame! I loved the quote,"That allows [the suppliers] to improve their manufacturing efficiencies by running larger lots." OUCH!

After reading these articles I predict this is just the beginning. The Anti-Lean approach will become wildly popular in the future, based simply on supply-chain interruption fears. Please wake me up!

1 comment:

Mark Graban said...

I wouldn't worry. These misinformed "JIT doesn't work" articles are rolled out after every disaster (Japanese earthquake, dock strike, hurricane, wildfires, etc.). You can only hope your competitors follow such "advice" and that you can clean their clocks in the marketplace.