From the Archives of a Common Sensei volume 32: WALK-ABOUTS – Plant Staff Goes to the Gemba

“Walk Abouts” do not have to be difficult nor time consuming! In this volume, we emphasize three key considerations of your “walk abouts”:

If the first bullet is not present in your organization, start there! This element is essential for continued success! At various clients, a technique we used to help establish the commitment of management was to have the responsible individuals take a Walk-About with us so they could explain what they were seeing. We would then explain what we were seeing and document that in a list of action items (as in the example included here). We would use any key measurables that existed within the Walk-About area (cell).

Walk About points #2 and #3 above often go together. In some cases, standards may not be established yet, or they need refinement. In this article, we discuss point #3 prior to point #2. This is assuming that the Walk About actions will include the checking for the need for standards or improvements to enable standards attainment. As we performed the Walk-About, we would discuss any points of improvement with the leadership (Manager/Supervision) and the person(s) performing the work, plus we would record those points to improve, action required, responsibility for action, short term and long-term actions, and incremental progress (see LIST OF ACTION ITEMS form).

To establish a more finite capture of variation to standards (expectations), you might find it useful to use a form like the Weekly Team Leader Critical Wastes and Gaps form. This form (included below) will help you capture the issue, when it occurred and monthly total, plus any comments you feel are important to capture. The form is also structured to help you capture and record any short-term actions that have been taken, who took the action, and consequences/results. The purpose of this template is to help first line supervision and associates in their efforts to focus on issues which exhibit the greatest wastes and therefore could generate the greatest return (value) in the quest for highest quality, customer satisfaction, and reduction of cost.

Give these methods a try in your organization and be sure to be inclusive when discussing improvement opportunities and improvements. I am sure you will experience significant value creation regardless of what type of organization you are in.

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From the Archives of a Common Sensei volume 30: ENGINEERING CHANGE PROCEDURE FOR NON-INTERCHANGEABLE PARTS (Imported Purchased Parts)

This volume of From the Archives of a Common Sensei is a continuation of volumes 28 and 29 and discusses the Engineering Change Procedure for Non-Interchangeable Imported Parts. This volume discussion will close out our three-volume series (28, 29 and 30) on the topic of engineering change. As referenced in Blog volume 28, during the early days (1990’s) of Toyota Industrial Equipment (TIEM) in the US, we had to give consideration to many different processes as we developed the manufacturing operations. In my previous blog postings, I have tried to describe in (short form) how we went about many of these operational developments.

In this volume 30, I present the process for imported but non-interchangeable parts. As in volumes 28 and 29, the handwritten original examples are too big to display at the same time, so I split this engineering change process into three volumes to simplify the overall process of engineering change. Some of you might be more concerned with an engineering change procedure for domestic parts and some might be more concerned with imported parts. The three articles in Blogs 28, 29, and 30 are presented here to potentially give you ideas for your organization.

In the example supplied here (Vol. 30) for Imported Non-Interchangeable Purchased Parts, it is again noted that during those early days of the TIEM startup (1989+) the engineering was done by the TIEM parent company (TAL) and delivered to the TIEM operation (Domestic Company) in Columbus, Indiana. From that point, the process example tracks through the Parental Company actions, Domestic Company Engineering Section, Production Section, and the Material Control Section, and Accounting. The procedure includes steps for checking inventories, Kanban handling, change date determination from old parts to new parts, receiving of new parts, and how to manage the associated Kanban’s. As stated in previous blog volumes, in the mid-1990’s a substantial portion of product engineering was a joint effort by the local facility and the parent company in Japan. In previous blogs, I have also explained how we encouraged our customers, plant associates, and managers to work with Engineering to create improvements in quality, cost, convenience, service needs, etc. Again, this example, and the previous examples (Vol. 28 and 29), are intended only as examples from which you may be able to gain some ideas.

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