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November 2018 "PDM" Professional Development Meeting - Dr. Shahrukh Irani
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Keynote Speaker - Dr. Shahrukh Irani - President, Lean & Flexible, LLC

When: Thursday, November 15, 2018
5:30 - 8:00 pm
Where: The HESS Club
5430 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, Texas  77056
United States
Presenter: Dr. Shahrukh Irani - President, Lean & Flexible, LLC
Contact: Director of Programs

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Title: Manufacturing Cells: How to Eliminate the Functional Silos in Any Machine Shop

Topic: This presentation will describe the ongoing work and experiences of a team at Superior Energy Services that are implementing their first cell as part of a strategic initiative to implement Lean and embrace Value Stream Management.


Keynote Speaker:Dr. Shahrukh Irani - President, Lean & Flexible, LLC




Todd Chretien (Director of Manufacturing, Superior Energy Services)

Danielle Dewitt (IE Graduate Student, University of Houston)

Neelanjan Paliwal (IE Graduate Student, University of Houston)

Nicole Pham (Production Control Supervisor, Superior Energy Services)



Brief Description: 

Art Byrne, former CEO of Wiremold, asserts that “the biggest, and most common, mistake manufacturers make is thinking that they can somehow implement Lean while preserving a traditional batch organizational structure.  Unfortunately, if their current organizational structure has functional departments based on equipment type, then the only way to change to one-piece flow and pull scheduling is to bust up the functional silos”.[1]  At Superior Energy Services, their machine shop has a typical Functional Layout with equipment of similar processing capability being co-located in departments such as Saws, Small Lathes, Big Lathes, Small Mills, Big Mills and Manual Machines.  Other processes such as Washing, Phosphating, Deburring and Stenciling are stand-alone separate departments.  Inspection is a separate department with their own Director of Quality.   Unfortunately, in a Functional Layout like that, the typical machined part that has to be processed on individual machines in one or more of these multi-machine departments must travel a significant distance from Saw to Inspection!  With the 1000’s of different parts being produced in the machine shop, the material flow in this machine shop resembles spaghetti!  So, the machine shop experiences high WIP inventory, long production lead times and delayed correction of quality problems due to the combination of (1) batch production forced by the Functional Layout, (2) complex material flow due to the high product mix and (3) frequent schedule changes that are typical for any Oil & Gas supplier. 

Any high-mix low-volume manufacturing facility, especially a machine shop, should dissolve their Functional Layout and implement a Cellular Layout one-cell-at-a-time.  This is an open secret that has been known since the 1960’s, when Lean was known as Group Technology!  A machining cell is essentially a small machine shop that produces a family of parts with identical/similar routings.  However, the Value Streams of these parts cut across different manufacturing, support and office departments (which are functional silos).  For any cell to operate as a business unit and its machine operators to work as a cohesive and autonomous team, it is essential that at least the manufacturing departments be dissolved and their equipment (or processes) be reorganized into cells to the extent that finances, technology, personalities and politics will allow.

[1] SOURCE: Adapted from



Dr. Shahrukh A. Irani is the President of Lean and Flexible, LLC.  Prior to his current consulting job, from 2012-2014, he was the Director of IE Research at Hoerbiger Corporation of America, Inc. (HCA), Houston, TX.  Prior to this industry job, from 1996-2012, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering (ISE) at The Ohio State University (OSU).  

Meeting Agenda 

5:15 PM – 6:00 PM Check-In
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Dinner + Presentation + Chapter Announcements
8:00 PM – Meeting Adjourns

Event Cost                                By November 11              After November 11

Houston Chapter Members        $25.00                                $35.00
Student Chapter Members         $10.00                                $20.00
Non-Members                            $30.00                                $40.00

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* Late registrations for the event will incur an additional $10 fee
* Changes of speaker or topic are possible