Larry Fast

Founder and President
Pathways To Manufacturing Excellence

"For more than 40 years my passion has been to work hard to save and grow manufacturing jobs. I strongly believe that growing manufacturing jobs is a vital part of maintaining America’s standard of living and that ultimately, it is critical to the country’s ability to sustain a growing middle class. In order to realize this vision, U.S. factories must be able to compete globally."

"Having had direct responsibility for scores of plants over the years and having seen many others throughout North America and Europe, I have developed a Manufacturing Excellence strategy that works. It’s built on my 12 Manufacturing Principles and led by a high energy, competent and persistent local management team."

The Strategy

I have over forty years of experience in manufacturing, twenty-five of those years overseeing multi-plant operations. And I know what it takes to become a world-class operation. That breadth of experience has shaped how I think about manufacturing and, over the years, has culminated in a proven strategy for success.

The Strategy  -  We want to be the best in the world at what is important to our customers and shareholders.

The Path  -  The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence.

The Tools  -  Lean and Six Sigma.

The Culture  -  Operator-Led Process Control (OLPC).

If my passion and proven path to manufacturing excellence resonates with you, then we should talk. If you have a manufacturing team that needs to get a lot better, then let's put a plan together that will put them on the Pathways to Manufacturing Excellence!

Thanks for your interest and I look forward to hearing from you!

Larry E. Fast
Founder & President

The 12 Principles of
Manufacturing Excellence

1. Safety is the cornerstone of a high-performance plant. It is characterized by high Associate awareness and involvement—effective Associate training, ergonomically sound work environments, vigorous investigation and root-cause elimination of unsafe acts and conditions—and results in zero lost or restricted time accidents.

2. Good housekeeping and organization are expected at all times. Use of the 5S techniques is required, i.e. a place for everything and everything in its place.

3. Disciplined use of authorized formal systems is required to ensure data integrity of BOMS, routers, labor, scrap and inventory records. Use of inaccurate data results in financial and customer service surprises and causes poor decision making.

4. Preventive/Predictive Maintenance systems will be routinely used to plan/schedule equipment and facility maintenance. An undependable plant delivers poor customer service and disappoints shareholders

5. Process capability will be measured on all key processes with a minimum process control expectation of > 4 sigma, 1.33 Cpk. Use of statistical tools leads to a reliable environment with predictable outcomes on cost and service. The ultimate objective is to achieve theoretical levels of capacity utilization and material usage with process control approaching 6 sigma, 2.0 Cpk.

6. Operators are responsible for product quality and will not knowingly pass defective material to the next operation. The objective is to have zero escapes of poor quality product to the next operation or to an external customer.

7. Product will be manufactured on time to the original, agreed upon delivery promise. Manufacturing’s delivery performance is critical to growing the business profitably. It is a measure of the reliability of the shop floor and is an essential part of providing service that ultimately delights the customer.

8. Evidence of Visual Management will be prominent throughout the plant with key metrics at each work center. The use of Kanbans, Andon lights, audio alarms, color coding and other visual techniques will be used as appropriate.

9. Continuous Improvement will result in relentless productivity improvement, year-over-year, forever. It is critical to the long-term job security of everyone to maintain a low-cost and competitive manufacturing cost structure.

10. A comprehensive, purposeful Communications Plan will be in place and executed in every plant on a rolling twelve month basis. Better informed Associates take more interest in and make better decisions for the business.

11. A comprehensive, purposeful Training Plan will be in place and executed in every plant on a rolling twelve month basis. Fully competent Associates work safely and deliver quality products, on time at a competitive cost.

12. All Associates will help to create and sustain a shop floor environment where the operator is in control of the process. This will be known as Operator-Led Process Control (OLPC).

Why Pathways?

There are lots of companies out there providing services under various umbrellas. The common element in them is the notion of continuous improvement. The differentiator in many cases is this: there is not a proven process by which to both achieve and sustain excellence. I've lived it, led it and enjoyed much success with my proven approach built upon the 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence, the audit process to track progress and the metrics set used to achieve and sustain excellence. Most importantly, it's a process that is based on a deep understanding of how integrated all support functions must be in order to enable manufacturing excellence; it identifies specific, coordinated actions and support that are essential; and it guides the leadership down a path of culture change that is critical to sustaining excellence over the long haul.

I am a strong believer that a manufacturing operation is either getting better or getting worse. There is no standing still. Absent a comprehensive continuous improvement agenda, every U.S. manufacturing plant is on its way to closure. It's just a matter of time.

What you get at Pathways is my 42+ years of manufacturing leadership experience along with the proven path detailed in my book. I have led scores of plants (and seen scores more), won numerous awards for excellence and also closed plants in my career. Very simply, I've seen the best and worst of manufacturing and I know what it takes to become a globally competitive enterprise. You should contact me if you have any of the following needs:

• Launching your own Lean initiative at the Corporate level and creating your overall strategy and approach.

• Assessing an existing initiative that has lost its way and is not delivering the expected results.

• Providing education and training from the Board Room to the Shop Floor.

• Coaching/mentoring from C-level executives to Plant or Value Stream Managers.

• Thought leadership, i.e. a voice for a strong operational excellence presence on your Board of Directors.

• Helping a Plant Manager in organizing and deploying the plant team's strategy to execute the overall manufacturing/operational excellence strategy.

Your company or plant can be a lot better and Pathways will show you how. Contact me today!

Larry E. Fast

Larry E. Fast is a veteran of 35 years in the wire and cable industry, 27 of those in senior management roles at Belden for 25 years and General Cable for 10. As Belden's VP of Manufacturing he led a transformation of plants in the late 80s and early 90s that included cellularizing about 80% of the equipment around common products and routings (known today as value streams) and the use of what we now know as Lean and Six Sigma tools.

In 1997 he joined General Cable Corporation (GCC), one of the world's largest wire and cable companies. As the Senior Vice President of Operations, Fast launched a manufacturing excellence strategy in 1999 that became an enterprise-wide priority in 2001. After a 1999 acquisition he had 28 plants reporting to him as well as Corporate Sourcing, Quality, Manufacturing Systems and Advanced Manufacturing Engineering. Later as plants were consolidated to less than 20, he was given expanded responsibility for the North American Supply Chain. Since the launch of the Manufacturing Excellence strategy at GCC in 1999, there have been 34 Industry Week "Best Plants Finalists including 12 "Best Plants" winners since 2001.

His book, The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence—A Lean Leader's Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence, 2nd. Edition, was released September, 2015 by CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, as a Productivity Press book. The original book, a best seller, was published in October, 2011.

Fast holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Administration from Indiana University. He also is a graduate of Earlham College's Institute for Executive Growth and successfully completed the thirteen week "Program for Management Development" at the Harvard University School of Business.

Fast is a long time member of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) and a Board member and VP of Programs for the SE Region since 2009. He has served on university advisory boards including the School of Applied Sciences, Miami University and the Industry Advisory Board, Tauber Manufacturing Institute , University of Michigan. He became a judge for Industry Week (IW) magazine's "Best Plants in North America" competition in 2009. Since 2013 he writes a column for the IW online magazine under the banner of "Ask the Expert—Lean Leadership and Continuous Improvement". In December, 2016 he also began writing for a new, global online feature called "Insights" under the byline "The FAST Lane to Operational Excellence". Check out their London-based company and website for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence (BTOES).

In 2007 Fast's company, Pathways to Manufacturing Excellence, LLC, was established. In addition to his writing, he continues to consult, train and coach for companies who seek to achieve and sustain manufacturing excellence but need help to start the journey or to recover from a faltering initiative. He can be contacted at his website:

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The 12 Principles of
Manufacturing Excellence:

A Lean Leader's Guide to
Achieving and Sustaining Excellence

2nd edition

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