Rick has been applying the concepts of Synchronous Flow to difficult industrial problems since the early 1980s, when, as a new industrial engineer working at ALCOA’s Tennessee Operations, he led an effort to increase capacity of a production facility slated to be shut down. In just one year the effort more than doubled the capacity of the plant with zero capital investment.
Since those early days Rick has applied Synchronous Flow to dozens of businesses and organizations around the world, including a Habitat For Humanity project in Masindi, Uganda, that Rick led with his wife Sharon, during a three year ‘sabbatical’ from industry. At the Habitat project they cut the cost of houses by over 50% while increasing community involvement in the house building process. Two of the businesses the Phelps launched while in Uganda, a primary school and an animal traction business, are still making their local owners wealthy while continuing to meaningfully contribute to the community!
In 2009 Rick took refuge from the Great Recession at the iron ore mining company (and then client), Cleveland Cliffs, as their Director of Continuous Improvement. In that role Rick took on a failing Lean Six Sigma organization, refocused their improvement work using Synchronous Flow, and created a shop floor, engagement driven, continuous improvement process. Cliffs credits that process with creating a sustained $100M per year reduction in production costs. These sustained improvements required NO capital or new technology, just the smarts of the people.