Lean manufacturing is a top priority in todays cost-conscience enterprise. Lean manufacturing is the consolidation of every production detail from raw goods to employee efficiency, creating a completely streamlined process. This method is now vital to the survival of business.

Computer performance plays a major role in the streamline process. Baldwin Filters, an international industrial filter manufacturer, is currently ramping up an OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) program and knows how important computer efficiency is in maintaining cost-effective operations.

Computing systems are instrumental in the manufacturing process, says Eric Carel, network systems supervisor for Baldwin Filters. All of Baldwins 52 servers and approximately 400 workstations run Microsofts Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005 and SQL Reports.

Because every second of production counts, hard drive file fragmentation creates a serious barrier to increasing efficiency. Fragmentation occurs as files are created, edited and then saved wherever free space is available creating thousands of fragments. The downside is trying to access a fragmented file becomes a painfully slow processes.

Like many manufacturers, Baldwin Filters discovered fragmentation is an issue that must be handled. Also like many, they originally installed defragmentation system site-wide scheduled to run at night. This method proved ineffective. Scheduled defragmentation was a headache to manage, it interrupted users and those left with fragmentation to deal with sub-par system performance, Carel says.

This year, however, Carel and his team discovered new technology, InvisiTasking, developed by Diskeeper Corporation (www.diskeeper.com). InvisiTasking defrags automatically, in real-time, in the background, using only idle system resources, allowing performance to remain consistent.

Diskeeper was a great find for Carel. Given the number of computers and operations to be managed with limited staff, having an automated low-maintenance environment is key, he says. Carel now reports there is no need for micro-managing fragmented systems.

Another useful feature for Carel is I-FAAST (Intelligent File Access Acceleration Sequencing Technology), which boosts access to frequently accessed files, allowing Carel and his staff to increase the performance of their disk-to-disk backup operations.

Lean and efficient manufacturing methods are vital in todays cutthroat market. When implementing them, however, dont overlook computer performance and the primary barrier, file fragmentation.