It was officially announced recently that our Vicksburg Plant located in Vicksburg, Miss., was named one of IndustryWeek magazine’s Top 10 Plants in North America for 2007. It is a nice honor for this hard-working, dedicated team for their improvement efforts. You can read more about their lean journey at Batesville Casket IW Best Plants 2007.

For the Batesville Casket Company, this makes three of our five manufacturing plants recognized with this honor in the last four years. You can read about our Batesville Plant IW Top 10 Plant 2006 and our Manchester Plant IW Top 10 Plant 2004 at these IndustryWeek links. Don’t be surprised if our two remaining plants step up to the challenge; both are well-run plants on the lean journey.

Although I am not a big fan of these types of awards because it can cause complacency on the improvement journey, it does reflect the improvements realized on the lean journey to date. One of my responsibilities as the lean sensei for Batesville Casket is to prevent this complacency from taking root. Continuous improvement is forever, regardless of how many awards, achievements or remarkable improvements you accomplish.

In the words of Henry Ford, “Our own attitude is that we are charged with discovering the best way of doing everything, and that we must regard every process employed in manufacturing as purely experimental. If we reach a stage of production which seems remarkable as compared with what has gone before, than that is just a stage of production and nothing more. It is not and cannot be anything more than that. We know from changes that have already been brought about that far greater changes are to come, and that, therefore, we are not performing a single operation as well as it ought to be performed.”

With this said, I know from leading two kaizen teams last month in Vicksburg that we still have opportunities for improvement and that the Vicksburg team is not satisfied with the status quo. Congratulations to the Batesville Casket Vicksburg Plant and to all the other winners.

About the author:

Mike Wroblewski started his lean journey with instruction in quick die change from Shigeo Shingo. Mike is currently the lean sensei at Batesville Casket Company in Batesville, Ind. He also writes a blog called " Got Boondoggle?" featuring lean and Six Sigma topics. Check it out at http://gotboondoggle.blogspot.com/.