Develop skills to eliminate waste
According to the 1999-2001 Management Issues Survey conducted by the Alliance of Manufacturers & Exporters Canada, the most commonly reported techniques used by companies to overcome barriers to quality advancements are "change in organization culture" and "upgrading employee skill sets." How are they accomplishing this?
Many companies are teaching and using the tools of Lean Manufacturing to accomplish both goals. But that’s only the beginning. Now, how do we eliminate that waste and get lean? Let’s look at some tools that get you along the road from traditional to lean— "5S", Pull Systems, Setup reduction, Poka Yoke and Standard Work.
"5S"… It’s more than housekeeping!
Sort, straighten, sweep, standardize, sustain — This sequence of suggested steps solves some sticky situations to set up a system! Based on a Japanese model, which translates to these ‘5S’s, the workplace is transformed and organized.
Get rid of the clutter. Remove items that are not frequently used, so we can find the things we do need.
"A place for everything and everything in it’s place" makes it ready to use, easy to find and close to the point of use. Use labels, colour-coding and shadow-boards so tools and materials stay where they belong.
Get rid of the dust, oil and grime. Find the "dirt", plug the leaks and install collection systems to keep it clean.
Develop procedures to maintain workplace organization. Assign responsibilities, integrate duties into regular work and audit performance on a regular basis.
Make it an ongoing management priority to support the system that the team has worked to create.
The traditional "push" system kept people and machines busy. We asked them to "push" the product along the production line to the next operation. Sounds logical, right? But, what happens to the production not yet needed by either an internal or external customer? Waste is born.
As inventory is created, so too is the risk of obsolescence, quality defects and handling damage. The solution lies in a "pull" system where the customer, either internal or external, controls what is produced. We make only what is necessary, when it is necessary.
How does it work? Simple… a signal commands that production make only what is required. The signal to produce is called a "Kanban" and it may be an empty square marked on the floor, an empty shelf, a card describing the parts required, or an electronic signal. "What" it is doesn’t matter but, it can’t work without a Kanban!
No signal = no production.
Signal = produce exactly what is asked for, no more, no less, and make it right the first time.
Keep the setup down!
The traditional plant controlled the impact of changeover time by cranking up production to keep it rolling as long as possible, resulting in fewer setups and large batches. A lean plant however, attacks the issue from within by viewing setup time as a process that can be improved. How?
1.Analyze all the steps taken to change from one product to the next. A video camera is usually the fastest, easiest and most accurate way to record the procedure for analysis.
2.Classify the steps as internal —done while the operation is stopped, or external — done while the operation is running.
3.Establish a new setup procedure.
Tips and Tricks
Keep these in mind as you establish your new setup procedures…
Convert as many internal steps as possible to external.
Use quick connects.
Minimize travel distance.
Make sure tools are handy and easy to find.
Practice! Follow the example of a pit crew at the race track.
Poka Yoke — The answer to Murphy’s Law!
Poka Yoke is a Japanese term for an error-proofing device.
Murphy’s Law implies that
If two parts can be assembled wrong, they will be assembled wrong. If two different parts look almost the same and could be mixed up, they will be mixed up. If the procedure is too complex, it will not be followed. If the instructions are confusing, they will be misinterpreted."
Sound familiar? Poka Yoke contends that Murphy doesn’t need to rule! Planning and procedures make the difference…
Design parts or fixtures to prevent incorrect assembly.
Design parts so they won’t be confused.
Use colour coding.
Use simple checklists, clear instructions, and easy-to-use forms.
Install sensors to stop machines if defects occur.
Standard work — not 50 recipes, just one!
AMEC’s 1999-2001 Management Issues Survey reported that the top area within business to receive improvement from quality systems was operational efficiency. This makes sense when we consider that part of what a good quality system does is to establish standard practices and work instructions. The days of each operator or shift doing it "their way" can not continue. "Standard Work" is defined as, the way we all agree to do it today. With continuous improvement we may change the process, but we must all agree to the change. Only then can we determine the extent to which the change has proved effective.
In the Lean or Kaizen sense, Standard Work has 3 components;
Take Time: The time required to produce one unit in order to exactly match customer demand over a specified time period. The production line, or the sequence of operations required to produce our product, must be balanced so that each operation matches the takt time. It is the "beat" or rhythm of the plant.
Work Sequence: The definition of the order and timing of the steps performed by operators to produce the output of our process. It is a standard practice to be followed by all operators.
Standard WIP: The definition of the Work-in-Process between each operation. Our Pull system will maintain this inventory at a constant level. Initially we may need some WIP to protect bottleneck operations, but ideally work will move one piece at-a-time with no queues between operations.
Take those tools and do it!
These five tools can move a traditional production plant along the road to lean regardless of size. The premise is rooted in logic - use the tools, eliminate waste and stay competitive!