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Tutelar Technologies Inc.Tutelar::Keeping Lean - APMA Magazine - Premier IssueUjigami World Class Manufacturing
Tutelar Technologies Inc.
Ujigami World Class Manufacturing

Keeping Lean - APMA Magazine - Premier Issue

Keeping Lean	
by Floyd Dickson, Tutelar Technologies Inc.

Why are companies moving away from Lean Manufacturing? Is there a better path for Lean success? 

Lean is a simple and inherently obvious initiative that strives to identify and eliminate three basic types of waste: muda ('non-value-adding work'), muri ('overburden'), and mura ('unevenness'). Lean promises to improve profitability by eliminating waste.

Unfortunately, current studies of Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma projects find that the majority of companies that started these programs eventually abandoned their journey, even though many enjoyed early successes. Ironically, instead of benefiting from the promised reduced costs, these companies have found their Lean initiatives put a strain on expenses, drains needed resources, creates unneeded downtime, and for the most part, has no immediate impact on the “big picture”.

Most companies implement Lean by educating and changing the habits of their workforce with a “tools based” approach. This requires a significant, ongoing investment to create and implement:
 - senior management commitment, 
 - communication to the entire organization, 
 - employee training in basic and advanced Lean tools, 
 - successful 5S pilots, 
 - evaluation and communication of results, 
 - stabilization of the initiatives in the company, and finally
 - expansion into other areas.

This approach focuses on developing Lean expertise in all employees, led by a few Lean Champions. The behavioural Lean controls such as Workplace Organization, 5S, 6C, and Visual Controls are onerous objectives that require high levels of daily and hourly involvement by all employees, especially management.

Unfortunately, as employee turnovers occur, Lean initiatives falter. Turnovers may result from temporary reassignment to address a 'crisis',  a promotion, or an employee leaving the company. And without the originator's direct involvement, even the initial improvements can slip away. As a result, this “tools based” approach to Lean has proven it is not sustainable in most organizations, even those with an on-going investment in a stable and long-term work force.

Rather than taking a tools based approach, companies can see immediate and sustainable improvements by using a “waste directed” approach to implementing Lean – change your equipment instead of trying to change your people:

 - Identify and prioritize as many of the visible quality, downtime, productivity and other instability problems that exist. Over time, this improvement list will become the Roadmap to Lean, especially if expected improvements, actual results, and planned dates are included

 - Make improvements to the equipment and processes to address the identified issues; these improvements will not require ongoing investment since they have become part of the 'core' functionality

 - Work towards making your manufacturing a continuous process 
   -- rearrange your machines and processes to permit continuous product flow instead of batch processing;
   -- only build parts when they are required, in the quantity required; 
   -- develop the ability to communicate “next part” requirements directly to your operators and machines, and ensure they have the flexibility to meet those requirements; 
   -- implement setup reduction methods to enable faster changeovers

 - Establish standard work for all operations; this will stabilize the work pace and provide confidence that parts will be available when required

 - Create stable flow of material by using tools such as Value Stream Mapping and Production Leveling to highlight areas that need to be improved; make the changes to your ordering and manufacturing processes to ensure these improvements are sustained

 - Start pulling orders through the system by producing each unique part directly to customer demand

Each of these steps require a change to your equipment and/or processes. By aligning your key production equipment and processes to Lean, each change becomes sustainable regardless of the personnel involved and is the new operating baseline. 

Often companies find they do not have the plant floor infrastructure to make changes easily. A properly implemented Manufacturing Execution System (MES) directly manages the plant floor equipment and provides the flexibility to coordinate, control, and report results for continuous improvement. Start, or restart, your Lean journey by investigating how MES can deliver quality, productivity, delivery and financial results to your company!

Tutelar Technologies supplies Ujigami Product Directed Manufacturing System, an advanced MES that manages all aspects of your manufacturing facility.

Tags: How To, Keep Lean, 5S, 6S, Six Sigma, Zero Defects, Stop Waste, Do More With Less, Reduce Scrap, Perfect Quality
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