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When Ross Controls -- an international manufacturer of pneumatic valves, controls systems, and safety products for the fluid power industry -- began its lean transformation in 2001, it fit the norm of workers trying to grow accustomed to lean tools and principles. Understanding lean, COO John Smith said, was the major roadblock for Ross Controls. Lately, Smith said the success of lean has been driven largely by the use of visual management, which can emphasize efficiency and safety as well as encourage waste reduction through tracking devices and aides. Within the first two years of its lean initiative, the company saw early successes that included: a 20% drop in assembly floor space due to inventory reduction; an 80% fall in finished goods inventory; a 30% drop in WIP; and a nearly 80% fall in shipping errors. Part of continuing Ross lean success has been its efforts to look for the latest area of necessary improvement.

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