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"We certainly entered into a fee for service arrangement, but at the end of the day they gave much more than a fee for service, number 1, and number 2, we just learned a lot and our organization is better because of the service W3 provided to us."
Lean management is not new. However, the application of lean tools and systems within industries has evolved over time. When our group first began over 30 years ago, our first core competency was lean management. We have grown to include other capabilities, but lean management consulting has and will continue to be something we will continuously innovate and perfect.
Lean management is comprised of ways to improve the whole organization by identifying and eliminating waste, so each process can optimally run. It does not matter whether the processes within a value stream are service- or product-based; lean can play a role in positively impacting it.
There are many tools used within a lean system. Below are the ones we focus on with our clients:
Implementing standard work in an organization should be second nature for all companies on the lean journey. The truth is we find that a majority of our clients do not take advantage of this practice. Standard work is very important because it sets the foundation for continuous improvement efforts throughout the organization by documenting and capturing the current best practices to efficiently and safely make a quality product or conduct quality service. This foundation then creates a current state for which it can be continuously improved upon. Thus, standardized work is a process that never ceases.
Kanban/Pull Systems are based on the concept of building products to actual demand and not to a schedule or forecast. Kanbans are visual signals or records that authorize the production or withdrawal of a product and can also be used to trigger Team Members to perform tasks in addition to their daily routine. When implemented correctly, Kanbans will eliminate waste due to overproduction and excess inventory.
Job Instruction Training is a dynamic program that instructs supervisors and leaders within an organization based on the five (5) needs of a supervisor: knowledge of the work, knowledge of responsibility, skill in instructing, expertise in improving methods, and skill in leading. Companies typically fulfill the first two needs, but many organizations fall short in supplying their leaders with training in the other three areas. Companies must provide their leaders with this type of training because lean implementation and continuous improvement are nearly impossible without guidance from a competent leader that has the five (5) qualities above.
5S is a program that strives to organize and keep tidy the entire business so that teams can work efficiently. Organizational clutter is a significant cause of process inefficiency, safety issues, and low team morale. Work areas need to be 5S’ed so that additional continuous improvement efforts can be put in smoothly.
Kaizen is a lean tool that helps companies eliminate non-value activities (Muda) with quick bottom-line results. The traditional way of thinking is Cost + Profit = Selling Price; the lean way of thinking is Price – Cost = Profit. Therefore, the lean way to increase profit is to reduce costs, and the lean way to reduce costs is to eliminate waste. Typically, kaizen events are driven by internal continuous improvement teams that are appointed by senior management to improve one process at a time rapidly.
Equipment changeovers can become a real burden if not done efficiently. SMED (single-minute exchange of die) is a system designed to take the equipment changeover process and dramatically reduce the time it takes to complete changeovers. This type of procedure, when implemented, has many benefits including but not limited to: less equipment downtime, smaller lot sizes, flexible scheduling, decreased inventory levels, improved consistency and quality, and standardized changeovers. SMED is an ideal tool for those companies that wish to reduce the changeover time and set-up time while increasing the flexibility of production that leads to an enhanced process flow.
Perfect production is something that all companies strive towards, but few take advantage of the holistic approach TPM (total productive maintenance) offers. TPM is a proactive approach to maintenance that allows companies to keep their equipment uptime near 90%. With a quality TPM system in place, companies maximize the operational efficiency of their equipment and maintain their desired level of production through shared responsibility. This shared responsibility creates a sense of unity amongst the team members and creates a much more proactive culture. Without a proper TPM system in place, companies cannot maintain the level of quality and production needed to keep up with the competitive pressures around them.
Efficient and effective information flow is imperative in each process throughout the organization. As value chain activities increase in complexity, this need becomes more critical. Visual management is a set of tools that creates value stream transparency. It allows for leaders and team members to quickly identify, in real-time, if a process is functioning correctly or if there is a problem.
Mistake proofing assists the value chain by adding controls into each process to prevent defects from occurring, reduce the severity of those defects, or, best-case scenario, eliminate all errors. Mistake proofing is a vital part of lean because it can eliminate the repercussions, usually intangible, of sending defective products to customers.
Solving problems can be very costly to organizations when they are not taught how to solve problems correctly. There is a comprehensive structure for determining the root cause of problems, and organizations need to utilize this structure. When a standardized problem-solving structure is in place, taking corrective actions that eliminate future occurrences becomes second nature. Beyond this, correct problem solving, over time, becomes a structural framework for lean thinking.
One of the most important skills to have as a lean practitioner is knowing when to use the tools and which one best suits the need of the process. Many organizations push tools into a value stream rather than allowing the value stream to pull tools into the processes as they are needed. This is where our lean management consultants differ.
Instead of giving organizations the tools by implementing them with our experts, we prefer to teach teams the lean tools and then coach them through its application. There are times when organizations need immediate stabilization, in which case, our experts go in to stabilize and install lean tools. However, we have found the greatest success by following the Dreyfus model when coaching organizations.
This approach to skill-building allows us to embed our knowledge and coach the proper use of each lean tool so that bad habits are not formed. This also ensures that after our coaches leave, teams will continue to install the lean tools correctly and coach the incoming practitioners to maintain the lean culture.
We approach lean deployments in a customizable way. No two clients are the same, so we engineer our engagements to fit our clients’ needs. With that said, we have several ways to build lean competency within our clients. Here are a couple of them:
Our customized Lean University™ is a curriculum designed to provide in-depth training on the lean business system disciplines and tools at our clients’ site(s). This certification process consists of a comprehensive set of elements and tools that focus on driving value and continuous improvement. Participants will split time between classroom work and actual lean tool deployment on their processes. This strategy gives the students a chance to apply what they learn and then realize measurable results. For instance, our last two waves of Lean University students were able to save their organization a total of $3,678,699 to the bottom line. This example improvement is due to the comprehensive practice all Lean University students go through.
Our interactive lean management training program aims at providing hands-on practice with lean methods, lean tools, and lean leadership in a simulated environment. This unique training is composed of lectures followed by repeated practice to embed the learnings and skills into the minds of the participants. During this five-day event, participants will go through several rounds of the simulation without the implementation of lean methods and tools. After covering the basics of lean, our coaches will begin to introduce and instruct each participant on how best to approach the installation of the tools and methods learned.
During these rounds, participants will have an opportunity to reinforce their lean learning by applying it to the simulated environment. Each round is measured using an income statement so each participant can gain an understanding of the financial impact their improvement rounds are having on the profitability of their simulated business. By the end of this lean training, participants will have a sufficient understanding of the lean tools and how they can be applied to their processes.