Rochester Chapter Lean Interest Group

ATTN: Business and company leaders whom aspire to excel,

I was recently elected by the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering (IISE) body of membership to be President of the Board of Trustees. During this year as President, I would like to celebrate the successes of Industrial and Systems Engineers and share the value the discipline brings to many organizations.

Meet John Kaemmerlen, (BS and ME, Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management), Lecturer, Rochester Inst of Technology


Rochester Chapter Lean Interest Group
An idea for other chapters to try? Or improve?

“Rochester (NY) Chapter 44 of IISE is a chapter with a long history of involvement and accomplishment. Thirty years ago, it was a very large chapter with hundreds of members who worked at Kodak, Xerox, Gleason, Bausch and Lomb, and a number of other western NY companies that had a strong manufacturing history and presence.

Today’s Rochester chapter is much smaller (40 to 50 members). There are still members from local companies, many of whom do their own manufacturing, and a good sized contingent of professors from the Rochester Institute of Technology. The chapter’s current president, John Kaemmerlen, spent 31 years at Kodak before transitioning into a teaching position at RIT in 2007.

He and the Rochester chapter board, in the course of their strategic planning efforts and board meetings, have been searching for a way to energize the chapter. The board members have contacts around the community and were aware that a number of local companies are working to implement lean practices in their businesses. So an idea materialized – what if these companies had a means to help each other? And what if it didn’t matter if all the IE’s who worked together in a to-be-defined approach were IISE members or not? Maybe if they saw the value in getting help, they would be inclined to join IISE over time?

So an entity called the “Lean Interest Group” was formed. They had a couple of initial meetings in 2014 to bounce ideas around, and then had a more focused meeting where they defined a Mission and Vision, which defined a basis for working together. The agreed to model is based on the principle of  “we will take turns as students and teachers.” Let’s say a member company is trying to implement lean, six sigma, TQM, TPM, business process reengineering, or whatever, with the intent of improving some key business metric. This could be an attempt to solve a long standing problem, or it could be an effort to seize an opportunity. Ideally, the group process works like this:

  • The company identifies a problem or opportunity
  • They complete a first cut at the first 3 sections of an A3 (current state, future state, gap)
  • They invite interested members of the lean interest group to their facility so the participants (hosts and helpers) can get familiar with the workplace and the specific business problem via “going to gemba”
  • The group meets in a conference room at the plant, discusses observations, asks questions, and offers ideas, focused on completing sections 4 and 5 of the A3 (root cause of the gap, and planned countermeasures)

Follow-on activity may or may not occur, at the discretion of the host company. The group feels that it is important for the host company to feel in control of the type of help they get, how much, and how quickly.

Companies that are represented on the team or have participated at some level to date are: Gleason, Harris RF, Optimax, PGM, Liberty Pumps, Orafol, Brunner International, Delphi, Wegmans (bakery), Thermo-Fisher, Qualitrol, Ingersoll-Rand, Corning, and Gorbel. These are companies with a local presence, most of whom do manufacturing, and none of which directly compete with each other (although in group meetings IP issues are handled appropriately).

The desired outcomes are:

  • For the host company – the perspectives of others, which may help them in attacking the problem or opportunity
  • For the volunteers – the opportunity to see another plant, see the tools they are using to run their business, and maybe leave with some ideas they can take back to their companies

The methodology was beta tested in July of 2015. The group met at Gleason Works for 3.5 hours to work on a lead time reduction effort they have in one of their businesses. Ajay Khaladkar (Director at Large for the Rochester Chapter) did the prep work, and Paul Spencer and Bob Balme (managers at Gleason), served as the hosts. The chapter recognized and appreciated Gleason’s willingness to go first in this effort.

In January of 2016, the 2nd round of activity occurred at another of the member companies, with a focus on TPM. Matt Jackson, another Rochester Director at Large, arranged this event. It has been reported that this company took some actions following the lean interest group meeting, and experienced some OEE improvements as a result. The 3rd cycle is being planned at another company, with the target of having a meeting in early August. The first draft of the A3 has been completed.

The Rochester Chapter of IISE typically provides food / refreshments, as a part of incentivizing participation.

Going forward, the group has agreed to a goal of holding an event about once per quarter.”

John Kaemmerlen
Chapter President
Rochester Chapter 44

Industrial and System Engineers provide incredible value to any organization in any industry and I am really excited to share these stories and inspire you and your company to hire ISE’s.

Blessings to you all!

Best Regards,
Michael Foss
President, Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering