Rethinking Risk

Joseph W. Koletar, Amacom, 2010, 242 pp., $29.95 (book).

There are many different kinds of risk in business: financial, competitive, regulatory, legal and intellectual property perils, to name a few. This book explores the risk of fraud—specifically, operational fraud or how we think of fraud, conceptualize it and deal with it.

The most common way of finding fraud is a tip from employees, vendors or customers. Audits are also a frequent means to identify and reduce risk. When fraud is discovered, there is the likelihood additional fraud exists elsewhere.

Steps should be taken to examine similar situations in other departments, plant sites and processes. After fraud is found, procedures to correct and prevent future or parallel occurrences should be developed and implemented. The author provides several methods for finding and preventing fraud.

Koletar, who writes in a conversational style, includes anecdotes and colleagues’ suggestions collected during his lengthy career in recognizing and mitigating risk.

This is not a collection of war stories, but rather instruction by storytelling that allows readers to grasp the issue and apply the condition or situation to their own circumstances.

Although there is no bibliography, each chapter has numerous references and notes. A glossary is provided to help decipher the acronyms and legal terms used. The index is longer than you might expect, showing that fraud takes many forms.

This book was a good reminder that opportunity for fraud is all around us. And while most people wish to operate ethically, the definition of what is right and correct is different for all. Good, definitive communication is needed to come to a common concept and standard.

Everyone who reads this book will find things to consider and review in their own businesses and lives.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals Inc.

Lean Production for Competitive Advantage

John M. Nicholas, Productivity Press, 2010, 527 pp., $79.95 (book).

This is a textbook meant to give readers a good understanding of the concepts behind lean production. It is written as a course text for industrial engineering or MBA students who have taken an initial course in operations management. It can also be used by professionals for self-study.

The book is divided into three sections: an introduction to continuous improvement, the elements of lean production and lean production planning. The chapters within each section cover all of the basic elements of lean, including plan-do-check-act thinking, 5S, the seven wastes, standard work, single minute exchange of die, work cell design, kanbans and capacity planning.

The book’s main strength is that it goes into all of the lean concepts and calculations in enough detail that it can be used for self-study.

It is also comprehensive in its coverage of lean methods without being encyclopedic. In addition, there are questions and problems at the end of every chapter that help readers learn the material.

This book is not meant to be used as a quick reference, nor is it meant for beginners. There are other books better suited for both purposes.

Brian Cocolicchio
New City, NY

Robustness Development and Reliability Growth

John P. King and William S. Jewett, 2010, Prentice Hall, 648 pp., $84.99 (book).

This book explores other strategies and processes needed to achieve robustness and reliability. Math and statistics are kept to a minimum; inclusion is limited to the basic requirements to define or accurately express the idea.

The topics discussed here are not new. Most of the subjects and topics—such as Six Sigma, design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and the axiomatic design—are discussed in previous books and practices. The interesting part of this book is how robustness and reliability can be achieved using tools and processes that are typically used elsewhere.

This book skillfully packages and summarizes well-known strategies in an easy-to-understand and orderly way. Its topics are divided into four sections:

  • Critical drivers of value. This is a general discussion of risk management, reliability and robustness, how the two relate and strategies to achieve it.
  • Framework for reliability development. This section contains detailed processes, road maps and decision processes needed to develop robustness and reliability in the products and processes.
  • Tools and methods supporting reliability development. Contains the bulk of quality tools and methods, and the essential statistical tools and methods.
  • Integration of framework and methods. Discusses critical parameters, process methods and some project management tools.

Overall, this is a useful book for anyone who needs to understand how to achieve robustness and increase reliability with all the modern quality thinking, principles and practices included.  

Shin Ta Liu
Lynx Systems
San Diego

Liquid Lean: Developing Lean Culture in the Process Industries

Raymond C. Floyd, Productivity Press, 2010, 346 pp., $49.95 (book).

This book aims to show that lean is appropriate to process industries and can be applied successfully. As Floyd points out, these industries stand to benefit even more than mechanical manufacturing operations because liquid plants are more capital intensive, and any interruption in the industrial process is costly.

The book contains several lessons from Floyd’s three decades of experience with lean manufacturing in the oil and gas industry, as well as at General Motors for more than 10 years.

The book is organized based on the criteria of the Shingo Prize: business results, consistent lean enterprise culture, continuous process improvement and cultural enablers.

Because it is focused on process industries, there are plenty of examples throughout the book, most of them explaining differences between liquid and mechanical manufacturing.

The main strength of this handbook is that it gives well-organized insights and stories about the application of lean in the chemical and process industries.

Furthermore, the author highlights key ideas and includes plenty of case studies to illustrate each section of the book.

I recommend that process industry managers and leaders read this book carefully to obtain valuable, practical insight about world-class performance.

Martín Tanco
Tecnun (University of Navarra)
San Sebastian, Spain

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