Many of us are familiar with the symbol of the Underwriters Laboratories and have learned to feel confident about the safety of appliances, electrical components, and other products. A store wouldn't even think of selling a toaster without the UL seal on it!
The organization was founded in 1894 by William Henry Merrill after city officials wanted assurance that the Commonwealth Exposition's exhibit of electrical lighting would not catch fire. By 1899, it had issued reports on 1000 items. UL grew in a world-renowned safety and reliability standards organization over the years.
Today in Jacksonville -- appropriately just upstairs from Dr. Bahri -- I met Juan Amador, Director of the Center of Continuous Improvement and Innovation. This is a new arm of UL, designed to provide instruction and advisory service to firms in adopting Lean approaches. The business line is a direct result of UL's internal experience with Lean. According to its website, UL's customers have seen turnaround service time improve by more than 50 percent since 2007, and the company's continuous improvement journey has enabled it to increase profitability by 68 percent since 2005. So, the company has discovered a new core competency and brought that competency to market. A specific focus of Juan's work will be with the health care industry.
UL is a participant in this week's Lean Enterprise Institute 2012 Transformation Summit.