From the Archives of a Common Sensei volume 33: Underlying All “Lean” Manufacturing Initiatives

The basic principles of effective “Lean” manufacturing (operations) initiatives must include two basic principles (as stated in the attached 1997 document from our Toyota (TIEM) experience):

  • Reduction of cost through elimination of waste
  • Make full use of workers (Associates) capabilities

In this volume of From the Archives of a Common Sensei, we speak to these and additional considerations to make the flow production (principle) work. Various forms of media are filled with discussions about flow, pull, balanced processing, Kanban, waste, JIT, etc., we will graphically show you the interfaced actions of the pull system and the framework for smoothing for just-in–time (in-time) production (processing).

In the attached “Goal/Means Relationship of a Pull Environment” document by Yasuhiro Monden (1983), starting at the bottom of the graphic, you can trace the critical considerations and interrelationships all the way from Improvement activities by Small Groups to Business wide quality control, Waste Elimination, Revenue Increase, and Profit Improvement.

The graphic illustrates the pathway to attainment of Increased Associate Morale and Respect for Humanity. It also illustrates the pathway to attain Just-in-Time (In Time) methods including Product/Service Sequencing and Workforce Flexibility/Workforce Leveling.

In the second attached document “The Framework for Smoothing” by Yasuhiro Monden (1983), starting from the bottom up, you are led through the Production (Process) Smoothing actions required from Flexible Machinery and Reduction of Production Leadtime to Just-In-Time Production leading to Enabling Production that is Promptly Adaptable to Demand Changes.

The Production Smoothing actions within the dashed line box in the graphic are fundamental to attainment of customer demand and building/completing products/services as required by customers.  The details within this graphic are often misunderstood and poorly applied.  The basics of the functions contained in this graphic can and should extend beyond the production/service processes, to include the entire supply chain (to be discussed in BLOG vol.34). 

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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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