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Card-based Control Systems for a Lean Work Design


  • Author
    Matthias Thürer, Mark Stevenson, Charles Protzman

After trained examiners and accomplished business professionals performed a thorough assessment of this work, Matthias Thürer, Mark Stevenson and Charles Protzman have been selected as recipients of an internationally recognized award from the Shingo Institute, part of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. The authors will receive the award at the European Shingo Conference occurring November 30 – December 2, 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

LOGAN, Utah — The Shingo Institute, part of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, has awarded Matthias Thürer, Mark Stevenson and Charles Protzman with the Shingo Publication Award for their book, “Card-Based Control Systems for a Lean Work Design: The Fundamentals of Kanban, ConWIP, POLCA and COBACABANA.”

Dr. Thürer is a professor at Jinan University (PR China) and a leading expert on Workload Control, COBACABANA (Control of Balance by Card Based Navigation) and lean work design. Dr. Stevenson is a professor at Lancaster University, UK, and his research includes implementing the Workload Control concept in practice to learn from the implementation process and results. Mr. Protzman is a lean implementer, trainer, speaker and author with over 35 years experience in materials and operations management.

“Receipt of the Shingo Publication Award signifies an author's significant contribution to advancing the body of knowledge regarding enterprise excellence,” said Ken Snyder, executive director of the Shingo Institute.

By “challenging” or applying for an award, authors invite a group of accomplished professionals and trained examiners from the Shingo Institute to thoroughly review their publications. Shingo examiners select recipients based on a rigorous set of standards.

“Card-Based Control Systems for a Lean Work Design” discusses how shops can successfully simplify their production control by using card-based systems such as kanban and Constant Work-in-Process (ConWIP). Although these systems provide a simple and highly effective visual approach for controlling manufacturing and service operations, all too many shops struggle with failed implementations or achieve results that fall below expectations. These outcomes can be attributed to a poor fit between the actual control problem and the solution applied.

This book takes a different approach to most other books on the subject—as it starts with an introduction to the control problem, instead of the control solution. “Card-Based Control Systems for a Lean Work Design” outlines how the problems encountered in typical manufacturing shops and service providers can be characterized, which allows for improved problem diagnosis.

Fred Whiton, senior vice president at CACI International, says: “’Card-Based Control Systems for a Lean Work Design’ provides an excellent review of input/output control systems which are applicable to many business processes. In addition, the authors describe four specific, card-based systems in detail, but more importantly, they detail differences in the feedback loop which guides readers on which systems are best suited for their needs. The simplified and highly visual card-based systems are very effective for controlling manufacturing and services businesses, and this book should be included as a must read for those seeking to implement or improve control systems within their business enterprise.”

The authors will receive the award at the awards ceremony during the European Shingo Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on November 30 – December 2, 2016. The conference is a three-day event featuring a selection of workshops, plant tours, keynote speakers and breakout sessions designed to provide ongoing knowledge, insights and experience for organizations in pursuit of operational excellence.

About the Shingo Institute

Housed at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, the Shingo Institute is named after Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo. Shingo distinguished himself as one of the world's thought leaders in concepts, management systems and improvement techniques that have become known as the Toyota Business System. Drawing from Shingo's teachings and years of experience working with organizations throughout the world, the Shingo Institute has developed the Shingo Model™ which is the basis for several educational offerings including workshops, study tours and conferences. It also awards and recognizes organizations that demonstrate an exceptional culture that continually strives for improvement and progress. Those interested in more information or in registering to attend the 30th International Shingo Conference may visit