The Shingo Prize Is Coming To GR


    GRAND RAPIDS — The Shingo Prize is coming to Michigan by way of Grand Rapids

    The Utah-based organization behind the prestigious national award has partnered with The Right Place Inc. in Grand Rapids to implement and administer the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing on a statewide basis in Michigan

    Having the state-level award based out of Grand Rapids and The Right Place is reflective of the economic development organization’s work on lean manufacturing, said John Buchan, chief operating officer at Kentwood-based Autocam Corp. and a member of The Right Place’s Manufacturing Council.

    “It’s a real win for us,” Buchan said. “To be able to get that for The Right Place to manage is a real compliment for West Michigan.”

    Michigan in 2005 will join seven other states that now have a statewide Shingo Prize, administered nationally by the Utah State University College of Business. The other states are Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia, all of which started state-level prizes in 2004.

    Recipients on the state level become eligible for a North American prize.

    The Shingo Prize is named after Shigeo Shingo, a Japanese industrial engineer who was a key architect of the renowned Toyota Production System.

    UtahStateUniversity created the Shingo Prize program in 1988 to promote lean manufacturing principles and practices and to recognize companies in the U.S., Mexico and Canada that achieve world-class manufacturing status.

    Annual prizes are awarded in business and research with four levels of recognition on the state level — platinum, gold, silver and bronze.

    Twelve companies received the North American prize this year.

    The award’s intent is to “foster continuous improvement and global competitiveness in U.S. manufacturing.” By bringing the award to the state level, the goals are to recognize manufacturing excellence and create greater awareness of lean manufacturing.

    “Clearly you can help people identify where you can improve and drive continuously to improve,” said Buchan, a former executive at Benteler Automotive when the company won a Shingo Prize at its Hagen Exhaust Facility in Grand Rapids in 2001.

    “That’s neverending. You can’t sit still. You have to always be striving for better,” he said. “Lean is a continuous journey.”

    The Shingo Prize will have 12 state-level prizes in 2005, Executive Director Ross Robson said. In taking the Shingo Prize to the state level and partnering with local organizations such as The Right Place, UtahState wants to create greater awareness of the award and for lean manufacturing practices, Robson said.

    In Michigan, the Shingo Prize plays well into the state’s large manufacturing sector, including the auto industry that’s been heavily involved with the award for a number of years, and can help drive lean manufacturing farther down through the supply chain to small and medium-sized manufacturing firms.

    “What it does is provide promotion of the program beyond anything that we can obtain or pay for in any way whatsoever,” Robson said.


    Right Place

    ‘s Manufacturing Council plans to launch the Shingo Prize in Michigan through the formation of five regional user groups in which manufacturers can become involved locally. Through the groups, the organization can conduct workshops, set benchmarks and perform evaluations that help to identify award candidates, Buchan said.

    “This is a rollout,” he said of establishing a state-level Shingo Prize. “We want this to be something that ends up sticking.”

    Organizers of the statewide Shingo Prize are unsure of a timeframe for bestowing the award in Michigan. Under consideration is to have it coincide with the 2005 national award handed out in late April, which will occur in Grand Rapids. The national conference will include addresses by industry leaders, workshops, exhibits and plant tours.

    Another option for the state award is to do it in August during the annual University of Michigan automotive conference in Traverse City, Buchan said.

    For more information on the Shingo Prize, go to    

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