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Lean Manufacturing: Eliminating the 8 Hidden Wastes – Part 8 of 8. The E in DOWNTIME


Excess processing is doing anything more than the minimum required to transform material into an acceptable product. It is effort that adds no value to the service or product from the customer’s viewpoint. After all, it is the customer, either internal or external, that needs to be satisfied. Clarifying customer requirements and changing the manufacturing or service orders causes different costs. If caught too late, this leads to re-work or even the rejection of shipped goods. This includes processing beyond customer values or taking extra steps that are not required. Whatever the cause, the result is predictable: wasted money, time, effort and resources. The only option is to closely examine the processes and correct them without sacrificing quality.

LOOK FOR poor process control, lack of standards, lack of or poor communication, overdesigned equipment, undefined true requirements, human error, redundant approval or inspection, non-standard business processes, re-entering data, just-in-case logic, “Not Invented Here and / or “Not My Job” syndromes, lack of teamwork or lack of adequate training.

REDUCE BY using Lean tools such as Value Added Flow Charts, Statistical Process Control (SPC), 5-Why Analysis, A3 Reports and Total Productive Maintenance.

The Value-Added Flow Chart is a tool to improve cycle times and productivity by visually separating value-adding from non-value-adding activities. Value Added Flow Charts give teams vision into where processes are creating value and where potential improvement efforts should be targeted. The charts are effective at showing current state and improvements resulting from projects. Teams can understand the value of process steps and identify waste in various forms. This tool is the cornerstone of any process improvement toolbox.

Statistical Process Control (SPC) is based on the analysis of data and requires, like any program, support from the top, and a great deal of coordination. If done successfully SPC can greatly improve a process’s ability to be controlled and analyzed during process improvement projects. The process will be most effective if senior managers make it part of their daily routine to review charts and make comments. Some practitioners share initial charts when they review them to provide visual support. Charts that are posted on the floor make the best working tools-they are visible to operators, and are accessible to problem-solving teams. While the initial resource cost of SPC can be substantial, the ROI gained from the information and knowledge the tool creates proves to be a successful activity time and time again.

The 5-Why Analysis method is used to move past symptoms and understand the true root cause of a problem. It is said that only by asking “Why?” five times successively can you delve into a problem deeply enough to understand the ultimate root cause. By the time you get to the 4th or 5th why, you will likely be looking squarely at management practices. This methodology is closely related to the Cause and Effect (Fishbone) diagram and can be used to complement the analysis necessary to complete a Cause and Effect diagram. 5-Why analysis is more than just an iterative process or a simple question asking activity. The purpose behind a 5-why analysis is to get the right people in the room to discuss all of the possible root causes of a given defect in a process. Many times teams will stop once a reason for a defect has been identified. These conclusions often do not get to the root cause. A disciplined 5-why approach will push teams to think outside the box and reach a root cause where the team can actually make a positive difference in the problem instead of merely treating symptoms.

A3 Reports are one page reports used for documenting the necessary information needed for progress reporting and decision making. They simplify project reporting because they pull from otherwise numerous and detailed progress reports and extensive background analysis. A3 reports condense the information to a single page and visually communicate to the reader using graphs, charts and succinct bullet points. Also referred to as “1 pagers”, the A3 report got its name from Toyota Motor Company and refers to the metric paper size that the report is produced on (equivalent to a paper size of 11 inches by 17 inches). This report can be characterized as a Lean tool best suited for solving relatively short duration Kaizen improvement activities. An A3 Report is comparable to today’s computerized “dashboard”.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) was developed in the 1970’s as a method of involving machine operators in the preventive maintenance of their machines. This was a reaction to increasing specialization and centralization of the maintenance function that had crated division of labor barriers between operators and the maintenance of their machines and equipment. TPM involves both the operators and maintenance crews working together to improve the overall operation of the equipment. The operators are around the equipment all of the time and should be the first to identify noisy or vibrating motors, squeaky fan belts or chains and oil and air leaks. Operators need to understand the basic standards for their equipment and check it closely and routinely to assure it meets those standards. As soon as a minor defect in operation is identified, maintenance needs to be notified. Catching problems early and fixing them is the key to preventing catastrophic failure or complete shutdown of expensive equipment. Equipment reliability is a cornerstone of a lean manufacturing system. With little or no buffer inventories, equipment failures directly impact production volumes and customer service; therefore, effective preventive maintenance is a critical activity. By bringing together people from all areas concerned with equipment into a comprehensive PM system, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is raised to the highest possible level. This requires the support and cooperation of everyone from top management on down.

How much profit is your company losing due to non-value added processing activities?

Watch for upcoming articles on Lean Manufacturing and the remaining Hidden Wastes of DOWNTIME…

September 15, 2012 at 11:46 am 2 comments

Lean Manufacturing: Eliminating the 8 Hidden Wastes – Part 2 of 8. The O in DOWNTIME


Many manufacturers believe in the traditional long runs of equipment because it is supposed to be more efficient to run a big batch versus running several shorter batches that include change-overs. Long runs require large inventories. Large inventories tie up large sums of money and keep our customers waiting longer. Thus, long runs reduce our ROI! Manufacturers that are leading their industries have found that when change-over times are drastically reduced and simplified, they can change-over more often and please more customers.

Over-Production waste occurs when we manufacture, assemble, or build more than what is needed. We make something just-in-case instead of Just-In-Time (JIT). Inaccurate scheduling, long lead times, long changeovers and not being close enough to our customers to understand their changing needs, leads us to longer production runs. We worry that our customer might need more while we have to suffer with the associated cost of unsold goods or services.

LOOK FOR processes producing more than is being “pulled” by the customer and requires storage between processes.

REDUCE BY improving Change-over and Set-up times and Line Balancing (Balancing Production Lines).

Quick Change-over and Set-up times on smaller and more flexible equipment make it easier to please many customers while reducing the overall cost of holding large quantities of inventory that is waiting for production opportunities. Drastically reduce change-over times requires an in-depth 2 step analysis and documentation of the process. The first step is to identify and move as many of the now internal (“power off”) activities to external (“power on”) activities. This first improvement step cost almost nothing to change, but are sometimes the hardest to implement because of years of old habits and resistance to change. The next step is to reduce the time required to perform the remaining internal activities. A valuable resource available on the subject is A Revolution in Manufacturing: The SMED System by Shigeo Shingo. His referral to SMED stands for Single Minute Exchange of Dies, and he believes the target for all change-overs should be 9 minutes or less. If you put together a cross-functional team from maintenance, operations, quality assurance and the tooling department (if it is separate from maintenance), the results can be amazing. These people have many ideas on how to improve change-overs and reduce the time required. They need to be empowered to suggest, plan and implement these improvements.

Line Balancing is simply leveling the cycle time for all operations within a line or process. It is building the cycle time concept into the standardized operations of a production line for maximum efficiency. Line balancing smooths work tasks and operator motions to create a harmonious and uninterrupted flow of product through the process steps. Workers learn to identify those processes that are out of balance with others and how to bring them back into line. While most companies assign the duties of measuring and improving production lines to process engineers, there ARE things that a team of line personnel can measure and examine for improvement opportunities. These people handle the process daily and understand the impact that balanced flow has on through-put, lead time to the customer and inventory levels, all of which play a very important role in the financial success of the organization.

What financial impact is Over-production having on your organization?

Watch for upcoming articles on Lean Manufacturing and the remaining Hidden Wastes of DOWNTIME…

July 12, 2012 at 8:46 am 4 comments

Lean Manufacturing: Eliminating the 8 Hidden Wastes – Part 1 of 8. The D in DOWNTIME


Some waste exists in every system. From manufacturing and assembly, to hospitality, healthcare, transportation, and social services, some waste is hidden within all processes. Identifying and eliminating these hidden wastes saves millions of dollars every year for those organizations that have embraced and continuously use Lean assessments. These wastes fall into eight basic categories: Defects and rework, Over-production, Waiting, Non-utilized resources, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Excess processing. As listed here, the 8 wastes are most easily remembered using the acronym “DOWNTIME“.

Defect and rework waste happens when we do not have robust preventive systems that include Mistake Proofing, or Poka-Yoke, techniques. When we cause a defect or an error and pass it on to the next operation, or worse, pass it on to the customer, we are accepting rework as part of the process. We lose money when something is manufactured, assembled or serviced twice, while our customer will only pay us once for the goods or service.

LOOK FOR defective, partial or un-completed products or services and completed units that are re-worked or thrown away. Stacks and piles of items anywhere in the process are good indicators of waste.

REDUCE BY improving Visual Controls and initiating more complete Standard Operation Procedures. Implement Mistake Proofing or Poka-Yokes at the source or the place in the process where errors occur.

Visual Controls can help employees monitor the status of production or services at a glance and help to identify developing bottlenecks that will need to be cleared to keep operations running smoothly. Managers can keep employees at all levels informed of current production schedules, performance levels and accomplishments with large colorful Visual Controls. Worker assignments, qualifications, training levels and suggestions can be displayed to improve morale and give recognition using Visual Controls.

Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) must be simple, user friendly and helpful tools, not unnecessary burdens. Inputs from all areas of the organization need to be formed together to supply all of the information required for doing the job correctly the first time. The ultimate goal of an SOP is to document the best way to perform a job for your situation of materials, equipment, location and people. The SOP should be written specifically for your situation. This will assure that you really are doing the work in the best way – at least until the next improvement come along.

Mistake Proofing, or Poka-Yoke, is the method of applying techniques to eliminate the possibility of errors occurring. Poka-yoke (poh-kah yoh-keh) or more literally avoiding (yokeru) inadvertent errors (poka) was coined in Japan during the 1960s by Shigeo Shingo, a pioneer of the Toyota Production System. Ideally, poka-yokes ensure that proper conditions exist before actually executing a process step, preventing defects from occurring in the first place. Where this is not possible, poka-yokes perform a detective function, eliminating defects in the process as early as possible. Workers, engineers and managers work together to establish procedures and design devices to prevent errors from occurring at their source of origin. The most economical and least costly time and place to detect and prevent errors is at the start of the process.

Can a substandard product or service be produced or performed and passed on to the next step in your processes?

Watch for upcoming articles on Lean Manufacturing and the remaining Hidden Wastes of DOWNTIME…

July 5, 2012 at 7:04 am Leave a comment


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