Published Articles

Don Penkala has authored and been interviewed for numerous articles in newspapers and industrial journals on improving plant operations, including:

  • Adhesives & Sealants Industry
  • Assembly - 5 articles
  • Chicago Tribune
  • Cutting Tool Engineering
  • Food Engineering
  • HR Focus
  • Industry Week
  • Injection Molding Magazine
  • Maintenance Management
  • Material Handling Solutions
  • National Productivity Review
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Personnel Journal
  • PIMA Magazine (Paper Industry Mfrs. Assn.)
  • Production Team
  • Quality Progress
  • The Service Sector
  • Time Compression Technologies
  • Training & Development

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Practical tips for achieving world-class operations



 
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Current topics

Weekend Scheduling and Operating Strategies - (In development)

6 Steps to Accelerating Performance - Much has been written about how to achieve global competitiveness in Manufacturing. But research at nearly 200 plants worldwide has revealed that there are some basic steps that can be taken - but are typically ignored - to accelerate performance improvements.

Increase Equipment Uptime with Team-Based Maintenance - Improving uptime requires realigning the roles and responsibilities for equipment maintenance. Team-based maintenance is a strategy whereby production and maintenance personnel work together to improve equipment reliability. Like traditional TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), it relies on the input and skill of production operators to assume responsibility for basic equipment maintenance duties and detect abnormalities or deterioration before a failure occurs. But unlike TPM, Team-Based Maintenance can increase uptime and throughput within a few weeks.

When Lean Manufacturing Goes Bad - Do you get tired of reading articles about the great improvement efforts at other companies? It sounds as if all implementations are flawless, performance gains are stellar (and happen practically overnight) and the management team does all the right things. Wouldn’t you, just once, like to hear about programs that crashed and burned? Or those that never even got off the ground? Then this article is for you!

Benchmarking for World-Class Performance - Benchmarking can be a powerful tool for developing a high-performance operation, but like other tools, it is often under- or mis-utilized. Let’s take a look at how a medium-size manufacturer of automotive components used benchmarking to achieve preferred supplier status, increase market share by nearly 40% and improve profitability three-fold in a highly competitive market.

Low-Cost Lean Manufacturing - Nearly all plants – regardless of size – can benefit by creating a leaner, more streamlined, more flexible operation. The challenge is to do it cost-effectively and in a way that maintains productivity and profitability during implementation.

Shift Your Plant Into High Gear with a Lean 24/7 Strategy - To compete on a global scale and to ensure long-term viability, manufacturers need to be flexible, responsive and cost-efficient. The ultimate weapon: Lean 24/7 operations.

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Cutting Manufacturing Costs: Roadmap to a Leaner Operation - The economic downturn has prompted many manufacturers to seek cost reduction opportunities. Unfortunately, most efforts to substantially reduce operating costs actually fail to do so. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the reasons cost cutting efforts fail to meet their objectives and what strategies are most effective for driving out cost while protecting quality and service levels.

Lean Manufacturing: Do It Right or Not At All - The focus of this article is to discuss the pitfalls to Lean implementation and, as always, to provide some practical guidelines that will improve your chances of success.

Lean, Cost-Efficient Shift Schedules Pay Off Big - The right shift schedule can increase plant productivity, enhance employee alertness, provide for regular training periods, balance changing operational requirements and boost employee morale. An inefficient shift schedule does none of these – and adds hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating costs to the business each year. Which do you have?

Rapid-Response Manufacturing: The New Competitive Edge - A "lightening-rod" concept that has the power not only to slash lead times and boost profitability, but to unify and energize the efforts and activities of the entire plant.

Designing Incentive Plans that Work - To achieve globally competitive manufacturing, there needs to be a strong partnership between management and associates. One of the best ways to create a true partnership is to implement an effective pay-for-performance incentive plan.

3 Approaches to Continuous Improvement - Plant managers everywhere are trying to develop an effective continuous improvement process within their facilities. This article focuses on the three most common approaches, and how to execute each successfully.

Bottom-Line Results Through Empowered Teams - Based on my research and consulting work in plants throughout the U.S., I've identified some of the key determinants of team success on the plant floor and some best practices for developing truly effective, empowered teams.

Making Your Plant More Competitive: The 100% Solution - The reality is that 15% of your organization cannot make the improvements needed in today's competitive business environment. You need to tap and direct the talents and motivation of the other 85%.

Want High-Performance? Energize Your Work Force! - Any improvement strategy you're trying to implement is going to be much more successful -- and sustainable -- when your employees are empowered, engaged and energized. So how can we get our people involved in and excited about World-Class Manufacturing?

Reinventing the Plant - Start-up facilities have built-in advantages over exisiting plants. But "brownfield" sites can learn valuable lessons from "greenfield" successes in their pursuit of World-Class Manufacturing.

Improve Performance with Visual Management - VM involves displaying the current status of operations in a visible manner through the use of charts, graphs, signs and other media throughout the plant. This article discusses how to create an effective VM system for your plant as part of an overall World-Class Operations strategy.

Championship Manufacturing Through Better Performance Measures - Manufacturing plants can be exciting places to work or mind-numbingly dull. The key is often found in how we keep score.

Are Reverse Auctions a Prudent Cost Reduction Strategy? - Reverse auctions (aka online auctions or competitive bidding events) are touted by buyers as an efficient means of generating significant price reductions in material spend. Suppliers claim they're hurting business relationships and threatening their viability. Who's right?


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