In this issue of Insights, we talk with Phil Celotto about his consulting on Lean practices. With 15 years experience on the Insyte team, Phil has long been dedicated to helping area manufacturers improve their operations through instilling Lean practices and other modes of efficiency. Here, he discusses the role he plays on the Insyte team, with his clients and in the region’s manufacturing community.
You’ve been with Insyte for about 15 years. Give us a snapshot of what Insyte was like when you joined the team and how it’s evolved. What has been a common thread?
As a whole, the organization has evolved into more of a community player in the sense of partnering with different organizations. We’re much more out there in the community.
Would you say that some of that has to do with the fact that Buffalo’s manufacturing industries, and the overall economy, have taken such a jump in the last few years?
Certainly it has. You know, it gives us more opportunity to work with more companies. There is greater demand for [Buffalo companies’] services, and they aren’t necessarily trying to save every dime. They are realizing that in a lot of cases, they need to not just expand, but to improve their ability to put out great work. And so that’s led to an increased opportunity for working with us.
I’m sure it has increased because of the resurgence of the area, but, quite honestly, Insyte has been in on the ground floor, working with other organizations and sponsoring different events [for some time]. I think because of the resurgence, there is more opportunity for that.
Tell us about your work with Lean practices, and what that process looks like.
My specialty involves a working with companies that require a made-to-order kind of product. It’s not as straightforward of an application as you see with a tool or other solutions. It’s more of a wide-angle approach. It asks, “How can we approach this problem?” It’s much more macro than micro. It’s not application of tools, but a philosophy and an approach that needs to be embedded in it, or part of it. It’s not me walking in, saying, “Okay, let’s put this tool here, and put this tool there, and now you are going to do better.” It’s not that obvious. We need to be collaborative and understand how to approach these types of things, provide them some of the ideas and tools, and lead through the discussion to eliminate some of the problems. That’s where you tend to get some momentum going.
I would imagine that the solution is most often a series of small improvements to things rather than a large overhaul of the entire system.
Yes, it’s a directed series of small steps. Very rarely are you ever going to overhaul anything. Mostly the types of companies that we work with really can’t [manage a full overhaul]. It requires an understanding of what you currently have and from there, directing your improvement efforts to the areas that are going to have the most impact.
What’s a common misconception that a client has about their systems that you disprove for them?
Sometimes a client believes that they have to run their machines at full force all the time in order to get the most out of them. But that’s the wrong measure. We don’t care how much we are utilizing that machine; we want to make sure that things flow through the factory in a more efficient manner, a quicker manner. And then the money will come, from getting the product out the door.
You really have a passion for this work. Why is this important work for you to do?
I enjoy the work because it’s just an interesting, intellectual challenge. How do you approach this, how do you fix this? It’s almost like a puzzle. You learn to focus on the right things and make some changes in the approach, and then you can see results. That’s very satisfying.
We, at Insyte, are looking out for our clients. We want to improve the area that we live in, that our family lives in. It’s been exciting to say that we helped these companies prosper and make the area better.