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Material Handling Consultants, Inc. is a World Class industrial engineering firm which specializes in the planning, design, integration, and implementation systems for the manufacturing, transportation, and distribution industries. 



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Lean and Agile 

Are you are familiar with the kind of results that Lean & Agile can have on an operation*?

  • 90% reductions in inventory

  • Inventory turns from 20 to 50 turns per year

  • 90% reductions in lead time

  • Reductions in product development time, from years to months

  • 30% reductions in human effort

  •  67% reductions in space  

* Source, from the book “Lean Thinking” by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones

These are substantiated “real world” results that some manufacturers have achieved in their existing operations. 

If your are not familiar with Lean and Agile techniques we offer the following excerpts of a pen manufacturing comparison from the book "The Perfect Engine" by Anand Sharma and Patricia E. Moody.  This simple example highlight the difference between Mass Production and Lean Production.  

Mass Production 

"A pen is an assembly of about a dozen metal and plastic components and one subassembly.  To build a single red pen using the mass production method, many big pieces of equipment and a series of human assemblers would be brought together to produce huge batches of shells, cartridges, and clip subassemblies.  The entire production might take two dozen process steps, from cutting, shaping, and painting raw metal to inserting a cartridge supplied by an outside supplier, testing the pen, and packaging it for shipment with thousands of others".  

"Typically, if a customer wanted to order one dozen red ink pens and two dozen black pens, he might not to expect to receive the completed order for several days or weeks unless it happens to be available from inventory". 

"The production sequence of operations, following raw material cutting, would include running large batches of individual components through various operations, to eventually meet at final assembly.  On the way these component batches move several times back to material storage areas where they get counted and recounted and wait to be moved again.  At every process step, actual batch quantities change due to quality problems, a typical batch-and-queue process."

"Actual valued added time, from material cutting, machining, painting, assembly, and packaging, is only a few minutes.  But with a batch-and-queue setup, the complete process takes an undetermined amount of time.  Nonetheless, eventually, the customer will accumulate the pieces of his original order for one dozen red and two dozen black pens."  

Lean and Agile Production 

"Lean production methods are rooted in simple flow production based on actual demand.  Everyone in the operation, and especially the customer, understands that what will ship and when, because the entire process is laid out and run to be visible.  Machines and operators work to meet the customer's pull signal; cells bring people and material so close it is possible to change configurations very quickly, and ti identify and fix problems equally well."  

"The pen cell runs with fewer operators and has no automated conveyors or warehousing systems, capital investment and automation are kept appropriately under control.  One dozen red and two dozen black pens are produced in minutes, and in sequence, packed and shipped." 

It is easy to see the advantages of the Lean and Agile approach:

  • Is more manageable 

  • Easy to expand

  • Produces higher quality with less waste

  • Is more compatible with e-commerce web-based demand-pull operations  

If we are to carry Lean and Agile through to the distribution channels what we begin to see is a reduction in inventories.  Distributors place smaller orders with more frequency.  This reduction in inventory frees capital, reduces the size requirements of the facility, reduces the amount of storage equipment and conveying equipment required, and would change the size and composition of their outgoing orders as well.  Transportation companies would see smaller but more frequent shipments changing the composition makeup of their fleets, fewer larger trucks and more smaller trucks.  The opportunity to turn inventories 20 to 50 times annually offer a substantial financial incentive.     

Is Lean and Agile Right For Your Operation?  

While there is no right answer suitable for everyone, most firms would benefit from the Kaizen process improvement program normally associated with Lean and Agile implementation.  

If you have an interest in considering Lean & Agile manufacturing techniques, we would be pleased and able to assist you.  It may be possible to integrate Lean & Agile process changes in to your operations and achieve some excellent results, not to mention productivity. We would be pleased to discuss the approach that we utilize to assist  companies move toward Lean & Agile World Class production. 

Visioneering Workshop 

The Visioneering workshop is designed to engage your people into a team effort to learn and then apply Lean and Agile methodology to your specific operation.  During the 3 to 4 day seminar, your employees are encouraged to focus on their unique problems. Through out the course of the seminar we will assist in prioritizing the problems. 

Together we will develop “solutions” to their problems, prepare implementation plans, budgetary estimates, and preliminary schedules. At the end of the seminar, your teams will formally present their process improvement plans to your management team. You will have a list of projects for your management team to evaluate, prioritize, and  implement.  

This is not a flashy “academic” information presentation.  It is a “hands on” workshop which leaves you with actual target projects for improving your operation. 

Together with our strategic partner, we have conducted over 400 workshops for our clients.  We have specific and Visioneering models for use with manufacturing and distribution operations.   

If you would like some additional on the Visioneering Workshop, please contact us at  Please include your contact information. 

 Want to Learn More About Lean and Agile?

If you are not familiar with Lean and Agile techniques, may we respectfully recommend a book titled Lean Thinking, buy James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones. It is an excellent book as well as an easy read. It is also available, abridged, on CD or cassette for that long commute.

Learn more about our Lean and Agile Workshop  


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Revised: September 3, 2005