September 23, 2008

Sandia receives Shingo Prize

Award recognizes Responsive Neutron Generator Product Deployment Center

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Sandia National Laboratories’ Responsive Neutron Generator Product Deployment Center won the prestigious Shingo Prize for 2008 — the first and only public sector organization so honored.

Shingo, more than any other business prize, promotes awareness of lean concepts and recognizes companies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico that achieve world-class status in lean transformation.

This year’s award isn’t the center’s first encounter with the Shingo organization. Two years ago, in 2006, it won a Shingo bronze medallion for its implementation of lean principles in its production activities. The 2008 award is broader in scope, recognizing the same center for its further implementation of lean principles across the entire neutron generator life cycle activities.

That 2006 prize, and the activities leading up to it, offered a real learning opportunity, says center director Kathleen McCaughey. “Part of the [prize competition] process,” McCaughey says, “is to get a feedback report from the Shingo organization. We got some great feedback, which motivated us to put an action plan in place.”

That action plan — which McCaughey and her team approached with the fervor of a campaign — included implementing lean principles throughout the entire neutron generator life cycle. The NG life cycle incorporates the science and technology foundations of neutron generators, design, development, production, materials management, component stewardship, and shared services.

Going lean was initially about being able to deliver products, but later turned into more globally meeting the customer, NNSA’s, requirements: becoming more responsive to changing demands in the complex and more cost-effective in meeting their needs.

And there was, of course, that Shingo Prize — an industry benchmark for operational excellence, which compares your systems and results against others. Having tasted bronze in 2006, five years into its lean journey, the leadership team makes no bones about the fact that Sandia center was actively committed to achieving a higher award level than before, and for a larger scope.

They didn’t expect to win “The Shingo Prize” in 2008, McCaughey says. “It was gratifying to see lean principles begin to make a difference in the center’s operations from the very beginning. With culture change, you can see improvements right away. You see growth, you see maturity. You see your team beginning to think lean. You can see it in the results.”

By 2008, the Shingo examiners certainly saw the change, and liked what they found. The Sandia center had evolved from tools-centric, to principle-based systems. One example was the center’s value creation process with a one-page policy deployment.

The Shingo Prize was established in 1988 by the John M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. The Prize is named for Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo, who distinguished himself as one of the world’s leading experts in improving manufacturing processes. Shingo helped create and write about many aspects of the revolutionary manufacturing practices which comprise the renowned Toyota Production System.

Sandia’s representatives will attend the 2008 Shingo conference and awards ceremony Oct. 9, in Washington, D.C., where they will be recognized for their achievement.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Stephanie Holinka,, (505) 284-9227