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What is happening in lean manufacturing in the world
Curated by Michel Baudin
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Hong Kong Power Company Holds QC Circle Convention | Quality Alchemist

Hong Kong Power Company Holds  QC Circle  Convention | Quality Alchemist | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

CLP Power Quality Control Circle (QCC) Convention was established in 2002. It aims to offer our staff a platform to submit any creative ideas they may have to improve processes, procedures and overall operations in the form of a proposal. CLPP QCC Convention is one of key quality culture activities and HKSQ exco members were honored to be invited as guests for the Convention. Moreover, our former chairman Dr. Aaron Tong was one of judges. 

Michel Baudin's insight:

The QC circle, born in Japan in the early 1960s and the object of a short-lived fad in the US and Europe in the 1980s, lives on as a useful tool in organizations that stuck with it, including many companies in Japan, China, India, and other Asian countries. 

 

CLP Power has been an electrical utility serving Hong Kong for 100 years. In the jury that awarded prizes to circle projects at this convention was my friend Aaron Tong, former chair of the Hong Kong Society for Quality (HKSQ). 

 

 

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When Finance Runs the Factory | William Levinson | Industry Week

When Finance Runs the Factory | William Levinson | Industry Week | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Henry Ford achieved world-class results with three key performance indicators (KPIs), none of which were financial. His successors' changeover to financial metrics, on the other hand, caused the company to forget what we now call the Toyota production system."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Yes, giving power over manufacturing companies to accountants, as American industry massively did in the 1950s yielded disastrous results. The summary given in this article's lead paragraph, however, does not match the historical record from other sources. 

 

First, Ford did not "forget what we now call the Toyota production system." Instead, Ford's people developed in the 1910s a system later called "mass production," that was the best of its day and was copied worldwide in many industries. But anyone who seriously studies mass production and the Toyota Production System (TPS) can tell the difference. 

 

Second, Ford lost its position as the world's largest car maker long before accountants were put in charge. It was taken over in the 1920s by GM, not decades later by Toyota, while still led by Henry Ford. Historians blame this loss of competitive position on his dictatorial approach and on his failure to put in place the kind of management systems Alfred P. Sloan did at GM. Blaming the Whiz Kids of the 1950s is a misleading shortcut. 

 

Third, the article seems confused about accounting. By definition, everything you own is an asset, whether desirable or not. In fact, when you produce as much as before with less inventory, you boost your return on assets by reducing assets. 

 

Allocating overhead to products based on labor is simply a legacy of an era in which manufacturing was primarily manual and information technology was a paper ledger. It makes no sense today, and accountants trained in the last 50 years know it. But many large companies still have systems in place that keep doing it. 

 

It is simply wrong economic thinking, and so is making decisions based on "unit costs" when you not making individual units but a flow of, say, 30,000 units/month. What really matters is the flow of revenue from this flow of goods, and what you have to spend to sustain it. And a flow may not just be of one product but of a family that includes free samples, entry-level, premium, and luxury versions.

 

All you can legitimately do with a unit cost is multiply it back by the size of your flow. Otherwise, looking at unit costs leads you to think of your product as you do of a carton of milk you buy at the supermarket, and to believe that its unit cost is money you will not spend if you don't make it. This king of thinking what leads you to outsource production to the latest cheap labor country and starts companies down death spirals.

 

Fourth, time, energy, and materials are not Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) but dimensions of performance. Order-fulfillment lead time, inventory dwell time, kilowatt-hours of electricity, percentage of materials recycled as scrap... are performance indicator. Going from identifying a dimension to having a good metric for it is not a simple step. 

 

Wasted time, energy and materials are clearly important, but are those all the dimensions that need to be considered? What about equipment and facilities, for example? 

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Are Radical Improvements Too Risky? | John Dyer | IndustryWeek

Are Radical Improvements Too Risky? | John Dyer | IndustryWeek | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Michel Baudin's insight:

The two stories in this article -- about refrigerator assembly and a heating process -- have the ring of truth. I have had similar experiences, both positive and negative. 

 

Both stories are morality tales and I don't want to spoil them for you, so I won't go into specifics. Read past the business-speak of "paradigms" and "significant changes, " go straight to the stories, and draw your own conclusions as to their lessons on management.

 

Dyer's own conclusions that follow, and his recommendations of tools like FMEA or DMAIC, are too specific for my taste. I understand he is explaining his approach, but it is beyond what is directly supported by the stories. 

 

 

 

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Kevin T. Kjellerup's curator insight, November 17, 3:24 PM

A great risk may be not trying.

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Dr. Deming: 'Management Today Does Not Know What Its Job Is' (Part 1) | IndustryWeek

Dr. Deming: 'Management Today Does Not Know What Its Job Is' (Part 1) |  IndustryWeek | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

[...]"Management today does not know what its job is. In other words, [managers] don't understand their responsibilities. They don’t know the potential of their positions. And if they did, they don't have the required knowledge or abilities. There's no substitute for knowledge."

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Using Poka-Yoke Techniques for Early Defect Detection | Accelerate Management | Jennifer R.

"Shigeo Shingo developed processes, called “devices,” which made errors much less likely. In one of the examples used by author Harry Robinson, Shingo created a process where workers were required to take two small springs and put them into a dish before assembling a switch (which used the two springs). While this seems like a waste of time, it stopped the workers from forgetting to put the springs into the switch to start with, which saved an enormous amount of time by preventing technicians being sent to customer locations for repair."

Michel Baudin's insight:

What could possibly go wrong? Placing two springs in a dish prior to assembly not only adds a handling step, but it neither physically prevents a mistake, nor immediately detects it once made. A new operator, or one who fills in for another who has the flu, is likely to skip this step, particularly if necessary to sustain the pace. 

 

This example not like any Poka-Yoke I am used to, like the slots in my printer that are shaped so that an ink cartridge of the wrong color won't go in, or the food processor that is started by pressing on the lid. These devices actually make mistakes impossible without adding any work, so that there is no incentive to bypass them. 

 

And it's not difficult to imagine methods that might have worked with the switches. For example, the springs, presumably prop the buttons up, and a whisker hanging over the assembly line might be triggered only if the switch is tall enough... 

 

This article made me wonder whether Shingo, the inventor of the Poka-Yoke concept, had actually come up with this dish idea. It is indeed on p. 44 of his book, "Zero Quality Control: Source Inspection and the Poka-Yoke System," and he does call it a Poka-Yoke, even though he didn't coin the term until two years later. 

 

It is the only example I remember seeing in the Poka-Yoke literature that does not meet the requirements of being 100% effective and not adding labor. 

 

Devices and methods that make errors less likely are useful too, but not mistake-proof. It is usability enginering. If you make operations easy to understand with intuitive, self-explanatory user interfaces, mistakes may be so rare that you don't need mistake-proofing. It's fine, but it's not mistake-proofing. 

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Lean-Lite versus Lean-Deep: Interview with Michel Baudin | Pete Abilla |Shmula.com

Lean-Lite versus Lean-Deep: Interview with Michel Baudin | Pete Abilla |Shmula.com | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Lean-Lite versus Lean-Deep: Interview with Michel Baudin where he helps us better understand superficial versus deep lean.
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Is Lean A Science Based Profession or Tool Based Craft | Steve Spear | LinkedIn Pulse

Is Lean A Science Based Profession or Tool Based Craft | Steve Spear | LinkedIn Pulse | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

 "Is lean a bona fide management science based profession or a tool based craft? I'll suggest that current practice and teaching is more the latter than the former and because of that, the influence of lean is far inferior to its potential."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Within Manufacturing, management, engineering, and even consulting are professions. "Lean" per se is not a profession, but a loosely defined body of knowledge that all manufacturing professionals should possess to some extent. 

 

Like Spear, we all tend to think of mechanical engineering as an application of Newtonian mechanics. In reality, however, it is not as if the field had developed from scratch based on Newton's theories.

 

People had been making mechanical devices long before, and mechanical engineering as we know it actually came from the grafting of Newtonian mechanics onto an existing body of craft-based, empirical know-how. 

 

As Takahiro Fujimoto pointed out, the Toyota Production System (TPS) was never designed from first principles but instead emerged from the point solutions and countermeasures Toyota employees came up with to overcome a succession of crises in the development of the company. What is remarkable is that they did coalesce into a system. 

 

Lean is supposed to be a generalization of TPS to contexts other than car manufacturing at Toyota. The challenge of developing Lean is to reverse engineer principles from tools.

 

Over the past 35 years, many Japanese publications have described TPS, with authors like Taiichi Ohno, Shigeo Shingo, Yasuhiro Monden, Kenichi Sekine, Takahiro Fujimoto or Mikiharu Aoki... 

 

These publications have made many of the tools of TPS accessible to anyone willing to study them. They have been less effective, however, at showing how the tools work together as a system, and even less at spelling out underlying principles. It is something I have attempted in my books. 

 

Little of the content of TPS has made its way into Lean, as promoted and practiced in the US and Europe, where it boils down to drawing Value-Stream Maps and running Kaizen events that have little to do with TPS.

 

TPS still needs to be studied, and its essence abstracted into a theory that is neither false nor trivial and provides principles that can be practically deployed as needed in new industries. I agree with Spear that there is great value in such a theory, but it has to exist before we can use it. 

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Takumi, Toyota's Secret Weapons To Train The Robots

Takumi, Toyota's Secret Weapons To Train The Robots | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

Via dumontis
Michel Baudin's insight:

Interesting article about master craftsmen (匠) at Toyota. I just wonder why the people in the picture wear caps from air conditioner manufacturer Daikin. 

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dumontis's curator insight, October 5, 4:10 AM

Interesting read, particularly now that in the Netherlands a national debate around the role of robots and their effects on the work force was sparked by minister Asscher. 

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The Creative Benefits of Boredom | HBR Blog Network | David Burkus

The Creative Benefits of Boredom | HBR Blog Network | David Burkus | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"[...]a certain level of boredom might actually enhance the creative quality of our work [...]"

Michel Baudin's insight:

It is one step away from claiming that boredom makes you creative, which makes no sense. The frustration of boredom may motivate you to use your creativity, but deliberately boring people in order to make them creative is not something I would recommend.

 

I think that creativity is innate, but much more widely spread than most managers and engineers believe. The example in the article is about sales;  I am more familiar with manufacturing, where most jobs are repetitive, tedious, and boring.


They jobs are also tiring, but most production operators will tell you that they don't mind the tiredness as much as the slowness of the clock. Boredom is their number one enemy, and participation in improvement activities a welcome relief from it, as well as an opportunity to be creative.

 

People who are bored by repetitive tasks go "on automatic." Their hands keeps executing the sequence of tasks with accuracy and precision, while their minds wander off to, perhaps, the lake they fish in on week-ends. While on automatic, you don't think about improvements. 

Changes in the routine, whether deliberate or accidental, refocus their minds on the workplace. This includes product changes, spec changes, rotation between work stations, or any breakdown like defects in the product, component shortages, or machine stoppages. During theses changes, while engaged, your mind is focused on responding as you were trained to, and avoiding mistakes. If you think of better ways to do this work, they go on the back burner in your mind, while you attend to immediate needs. 

Depending on the management culture, operators may or may not be willing to share these ideas. They may be afraid of humiliation by a tactless manager, or they may fear that improving their job puts it in jeopardy,... 

To put to use the operators' creativity, you have to organize for this purpose, and it can't be while the line is running. This is why continuous improvement requires structures, procedures, and leadership.

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Are Part Numbers Too Smart for Their Own Good? | ENGINEERING.com

Are Part Numbers Too Smart for Their Own Good? | ENGINEERING.com | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

[...] technology experts are warning that the use of such descriptive part numbers is not necessarily so “smart,” and that they could drag down productivity in today’s fast-changing manufacturing environments. A smarter tactic, they assert, is to employ auto-generated “insignificant” or “non-intelligent” part numbers and let information about the part reside in a database. [...]

Michel Baudin's insight:

For details on the reasons to get rid of so-called "smart" part numbers, see http://wp.me/p3Jqq9-wO.

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How to Really See What is Going On in Your Workplace | Lean / Six-Sigma content from IndustryWeek

How to Really See What is Going On in Your Workplace | Lean / Six-Sigma content from IndustryWeek | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

How managers can use the four levels of observation to really see what is going on in their workplace:

1. Stories and anecdotes.

2. Data and graphs.

3. Pictures and diagrams.

4. Direct observation."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Deep down, I believe I agree with Jamie Flinchbaugh on observation, but I am puzzled by the way he phrases it. He describes stories and anecdotes as "the most abstract level of observation." I see them as a means of persuasion, not observation, and concrete, not abstract. 

 

I don't see data as necessarily dependent on assumptions. What assumptions are there behind, say, the number of boxes of Cereal Z you sold last month? It is just a fact. While photographs are a form of data, graphs and diagrams are ways of analyzing data and presenting results, which is also downstream from observation. 

 

For the analysis of a plant, I see three main sources of input:

1. Direct observation of the operations.

2. Interviews with key members of the organization.

3. The organization's data. 

 

The Lean literature justifiably emphasizes direct observation. You go to where the work is being done, and then apply various mental techniques to help you notice relevant characteristics. You may even gather data in the form of photographs an videos for future analysis. 

 

But it cannot be your only source. You also need to know what the manager's ambitions are for the organization, what they have tried to realize them, and what obstacles they feel they have encountered. Their perceptions may or may not agree with what you see with your own eyes, but you need to know what they are. 

 

Finally, any business activity leaves a data trail that should not be ignored, including product and process definitions, current status, history, and plans for the near and distant future. All of this also needs to be reviewed and confronted with direct observation and human perceptions. 

 

It's when you present your conclusions and recommendations that you use stories, graphs, diagrams, pictures, and videos to get your point across. 

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Philip Marris's curator insight, August 17, 11:30 AM

Thanks to Michel Baudin for spotting this.

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Fundamental failings in "Lean" procurement | Supply Chain Digital

Fundamental failings in "Lean" procurement  | Supply Chain Digital | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"The famous Lean approach, adopted by companies all over the world, considers the expenditure of resources on anything that doesn’t create value for the end customer as waste and seeks to eliminate unnecessary processes within this framework. 

The concern, however, is that companies are losing out by either not fully understanding the practice or not committing themselves enough to the change in thinking adopting it requires."

Michel Baudin's insight:

The points in the article are valid, and could be summarized by saying that, in procurement/supply chain management/logistics, efficiency should never be pursued at the expense of effectiveness. 

 

The more fundamental mistake, however, is the half-baked notion that "anything that doesn’t create value for the end customer is waste." 

 

Any business activity involves tasks the customer is never aware of, let alone values, and a narrow-minded focus on what customers are "willing to pay for" blinds managers to the need and the benefits of, for example, supporting suppliers. 

 

Customer willingness to pay is not an actionable criterion to identify waste. An activity is waste if, and only if, your performance does not degrade in any way when you stop doing it.

 

If eliminating it does not degrade your quality, increase your costs, delay your delivery, put your people at risk, or make your employees want to quit, then it is waste. 

 

But, even with a proper perspective on waste, eliminating it only improves only efficiency, not effectiveness. It's about getting things done right, not getting the right things done.

 

In a manufacturing company, procurement/supply chain management/logistics is the pit crew supporting production, and the business benefits of doing this job better dwarf any savings achieved through efficiency.

 

Reducing order fulfillment lead times, introducing new products, or customizing them helps the business grow. And it may require spending more rather than less on the supply chain, for example by moving trucks that are not 100% full. 

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Philip Marris's curator insight, June 28, 1:04 PM

Thank you Michel Baudin. More great content and intelligent analysis (see "Reactions" button below) once again.

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Poka-Yoke in User Interface Design - Six Revisions

Poka-Yoke in User Interface Design - Six Revisions | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Poka-yoke is a Japanese term that means "mistake-proofing". It surfaced in the 1960s, and was first applied in the car manufacturing industry. Poka-yoke is credited to industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo."

Michel Baudin's insight:

That IT specialists should be interested in the Poka-Yoke concept is natural. There are, however, consequential inaccuracies In the way it is described in many English-language sources, including Wikipedia. 

 

The example given as the first Poka-Yoke is a redesign of a switch assembly process that involved presenting springs on a placeholders so that the operator would not forget to insert one. 

 

Assuming this is a true example, it has two characteristics that make it different from the other examples given in Shingo's book or in Productivity Press's big red book of Poka-Yoke.

 

First, having a placeholder does not physically prevent the operator from making a mistake. A classical example of a system that does is one that puts a lid on every bin except the one the operator needs to pick from.

 

Second, this example adds labor to the operation, which means that the preparation step of placing the springs in the placeholder is likely to be by-passed under pressure. This is why it is a requirement for a Poka-Yoke not to add labor to the process.

 

For the same reasons, a multi-step deletion process in a software interface does not qualify as a Poka-Yoke. If you do multiple deletes, you end up pressing the buttons in rapid succession, occasionally deleting items you didn't intend to, while cursing the inconvenience of these multiple steps.

 

Having different, incompatible plugs certainly made it impossible to plug the keyboard into a port for an external disk. USB, however, was an improvement over this, because, with it, the machine figures out the purpose of the connection. A connector that you can insert in any orientation is even better. It saves you time, and there is no wrong way to plug it in. This is a genuine Poka-Yoke.

 

There are other, useful approaches that make mistakes less likely without preventing them outright. Don Norman and Jacob Nielsen call them "usability engineering." They should certainly be used in user interface design, but not confused with Poka-Yoke. 

 

 

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Bridging the Gap between Buyers and Suppliers | Robert Moakler | IndustryWeek

Bridging the Gap between Buyers and Suppliers | Robert Moakler | IndustryWeek | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Creating high performance, collaborative alliances between buyers and U.S. suppliers will ensure rebuilding a strong and sustainable American supply chain.
Michel Baudin's insight:

Robert Moakler reiterates the well known fact that collaboration between suppliers and customers is a win/win, and offers an e-sourcing platform as the better mousetrap that will make it happen. 

 

As COO of an "online marketplace exclusively developed for the American manufacturing industry," Moakler is forthright about where he is coming from. But is lack of technology the reason why adversarial, arm's length relations between suppliers and customers remain the norm? 

 

My own findings on this matter -- summarized in Lean Logistics, on pp. 342-350 -- is that each side stands to gain a short-term advantage from unilaterally breaking a collaborative relationship, and that the business history of the past 25 years shows examples of this happening. 

 

On the customer side, a new VP of purchasing can instruct buyers to use the information suppliers have shared to force price concessions. Conversely, suppliers can leverage intimate, single-sourcing, collaborative relations with a customer to charge above-market prices.

 

None of these behaviors is viable in the long term, but not all managers care about the long term, and the toughest challenge in establishing collaborative relations is defusing well-founded fears about the future behavior of the other side. 

 

While wishing Mr. Moakley the best of luck in his business, I don't believe technology is the problem. 

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Pyush Pandey's curator insight, December 9, 4:19 AM

Lean manufacturing practices, automation and innovation are critical elements in rapid customization, reducing costs, shorter lead times and more rapid product cycles

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Setup Reduction Methodology | Alejandro Sibaja

Setup Reduction Methodology | Alejandro Sibaja | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"We may think, based in all the information about Lean Manufacturing, that many tools and methods are well understood, unfortunately on real live there is many misunderstanding about them, that’s why I decided to write this article, for one of the most popular and known tool, SMED."

Michel Baudin's insight:

It's good to see that not everyone has forgotten SMED or is taking it for granted. When you bring it up with manufacturing managers nowadays, they often respond with "Oh yeah, we had some consultants show us how to do this three years ago."

"And how long do you take to set up this machine today?"

"I am not sure. Maybe 90 minutes..."

 

They think SMED is yesterday's news, but they are not doing it, and they are often confused about its purpose. They think it is to increase machine utilization, as opposed to flexibillity. 

 

Sibaja's article is a valuable introduction to the subject. I would have called it "Setup Time Reduction" rather than "Setup Reduction," which might imply that you are making fewer setups, or spending less time on setups overall. It's not what SMED lets you do. Instead, your total setup time budget remains the same, but you are using it to make more setups and produce smaller lots of more different products. 

 

I would also have put more emphasis on the use of video recordings in analyzing setup processes. You don't just show up on the shop floor with a camera; instead, you have to prepare the ground carefully, secure the consent of the participants upfront, and know how to use the camera to capture the relevant details. 

 

Sibaja's last sentence is about using the information "in your next Kaizen Event," which implies that Kaizen events are an appropriate method to manage SMED projects. It is not my experience. You might kick start a SMED project with a Kaizen Event, but not to finish it. Often, to achieve quick setups, you have to make changes to the machine and the tooling that require patient work over time. Standardizing the dimensions of 300 dies, for example, may take a year of incremental progress. 

 

 

 

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Philip Marris's curator insight, November 28, 3:32 AM

Michel Baudin's insight:

It's good to see that not everyone has forgotten SMED or is taking it for granted. When you bring it up with manufacturing managers nowadays, they often respond with "Oh yeah, we had some consultants show us how to do this three years ago." "And how long do you take to set up this machine today?" "I am not sure. Maybe 90 minutes..."

They think SMED is yesterday's news, but they are not doing it, and they are often confused about its purpose. They think it is to increase machine utilization, as opposed to flexibillity.

Sibaja's article is a valuable introduction to the subject […] I would also have put more emphasis on the use of video recordings in analyzing setup processes. You don't just show up on the shop floor with a camera; instead, you have to prepare the ground carefully, secure the consent of the participants upfront, and know how to use the camera to capture the relevant details. […]

 

Michel Baudin's "Lean Manufacturing" Scoop It is highly recommended: www.scoop.it/t/lean-manufacturing

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Dr. Deming: 'Management Today Does Not Know What Its Job Is' (Part 2) | Quality content from IndustryWeek

Dr. Deming: 'Management Today Does Not Know What Its Job Is' (Part 2) | Quality content from IndustryWeek | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"The usual procedure is that when anything happens, [we] suppose that somebody did it. Who did it? Pin a necklace on him. He's our culprit. He's the one who did it. That's wrong, entirely wrong. Chances are good, almost overwhelming, that what happened, happened as a consequence of the system that he works in, not from his own efforts. In other words, performance cannot be measured. You only measure the combined effect of the system and his efforts. You cannot untangle the two. It is very important, I believe, that performance cannot be measured."

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Change your production leveling strategy to achieve flow | Ian Glenday | Planet Lean

Change your production leveling strategy to achieve flow | Ian Glenday | Planet Lean | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"...What I came to call Repetitive and Flexible Supply (RFS) is based on the idea of manufacturing the largest products in the same sequence at the same time every week. To many people, this sounds ridiculous and stupid at first.

My analysis consistently showed that, typically, 6% of a company’s products represent 50% of the volume it produces.

I started to see this happen in every factory, hospital, or office I went to. And that’s when it hit me - why not simply focus on stabilizing the plan for that 6% of the products?..."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Ian Glenday's idea of RFS is fine, but not quite as original as presented in the article. Making it easy to do what you do the most often is the motivation behind the Product-Quantity (P-Q) analysis I learned in Japan in the 1980s. 

 

To use the terminology introduced  in the UK by Lucas Industries about that time, it breaks the product mix into Runners, Repeaters, and Strangers. You make each Runner is an dedicated production line, because it has a volume that justifies it.


Then you group Repeaters in families and make them in flexible lines, and you keep a residual job-shop to make the Strangers -- the long tail of your demand -- products in large numbers but with low and sporadic demand. 


This method is described, as prior work, in Lean Assembly (http://bit.ly/11bEb5V) as a foundation for assembly line design, and in Lean Logistics (http://bit.ly/1m2OM8V) for warehouse/supermarket design and for production scheduling, in particular heijunka. 

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Two Vancouver companies get manufacturing awards | The Columbian

Two Vancouver companies get manufacturing awards | The Columbian | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Two Vancouver companies were among five top award winners in this year's Manufacturing Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Association of Washington Business and UPS. [...] 


TigerStop won the Manufacturing Excellence Award for innovation. That award highlights a company's work in designing, developing and delivering a blockbuster product concept. TigerStop was founded in 1994 by Spencer Dick to develop a cutting machine that would consistently produce accurately shaped parts, whether metal, aluminum, plastic or wood. The company has sold more than 30,000 machines, and uses local sourcing in its production facilities, the business association said of TigerStop."

Michel Baudin's insight:

It's gratifying to see a former client receive an award. A few years ago, TigerStop asked me for Lean training. They went through a society of wood cutting machine makers and hosted a workshop at their site. For this small company, it was a way of getting what they wanted without bearing the whole cost. 

 

I was impressed by the creativity, open-mindedness, and dedication of the TigerStop people. Congratulations on this award!

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Keep It Simple: Value Stream Map at the Gemba | Dave LaHote | LEI

Keep It Simple: Value Stream Map at the Gemba | Dave LaHote | LEI | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

As we walked the line I had my notebook and pencil out. We walked each step and took note of the work-in-process inventory. I timed and recorded the cycle time of each process step. We asked the workers how long it took to change-over from one product to another. And we asked the workers about the kinds of problems they experienced when a sample order needed to be completed. It took us about 20 minutes. When we were done we had an old fashion process and material flow chart (today more commonly called a value stream map). In addition, our discussion with the workers pointed us to one step in the process that commonly got behind when sample orders were put into the process.

Michel Baudin's insight:

Dave LaHote tells an interesting story, with good learning points for practitioners. Except that it is about process mapping on the shop floor, not "Value Stream Mapping" (VSM) as described in the Lean literature. 

 

A VSM is supposed to map an order fulfillment process, following data from customer to supplier and materials from receipt to delivery. And, while quite detailed in terms of production control, it does not show process details at the machine or workstation level.

 

And it is not simple. It involves 25 different graphic symbols, some of which, like the zebra-patterned push arrows, take forever to draw by hand.  

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The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy | IEEE Spectrum

The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy | IEEE Spectrum | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
The Phoebus cartel engineered a shorter-lived lightbulb and gave birth to planned obsolescence
Michel Baudin's insight:

Early in my career, I worked with an older engineer who told me that his first professional experience had been in the reliability department of a large, US appliance maker, where his job was to change product designs to make them fail as soon as the warranties expired.

 

I had heard of such efforts before, but had found the accounts difficult to believe. How could companies spend money to deliberately lower the quality of their products? But this was the testimony of a man I trusted who had personally done it, and hated it. 

 

It was malicious, and it was corporate hubris at its worst. It created opportunities for competitors, which they eventually took. When we were having this conversation, my colleague also told me that the manufacturer was no longer in business. 

 

This article from IEEE substantiates another story of market dysfunction that I had heard of but was not sure was true: the manufacturers of incandescent light bulbs conspired to reduce the lives of the bulbs. 

 

The article gives dates, names, and places. An organization called the Phoebus cartel was set up in Geneva in 1924 by the leading lightbulb manufacturers in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Japan for the purpose of shortening bulb lives from 1,500 to 2,000 hours down to 1,000 hours. 

 

Now that the incandescent lightbulb itself is becoming obsolete, how do we prevent LED manufacturers from pulling the same stunt? 

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Philip Marris's curator insight, October 12, 4:35 AM

In my opinion this is the exception that proves the rule that "when a product fails early it is because of poor design and poor manufacturing not because of planned obsolescence". But this documented story is worth knowing.

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Discipline And The Broken Windows Theory | Dumontis

Discipline And The Broken Windows Theory | Dumontis | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Over the last few years a lot has been written about Lean leadership. For instance about what the differences would be between Lean and traditional leadership. And what the characteristics are of a Lean leader. One of the aspects often missing, I feel, is "discipline". I have always told my managers that they weren't paid more because they would supposedly be more intelligent or because they studied for a longer period of time, but because I expected them to be the most disciplined in respecting standards. As without the manager's respect - also interestingly described in the "broken windows" theory - the organization as a whole will flout its own rules."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Is being disciplined in respecting standards truly the quality that justifies managerial pay? By this criterion, the Caine's Captain Queeg and the Bounty's Lt. Bligh were both excellent managers. Whatever happened to "plan, organize, control, and lead"?

 

Like the "Hawthorne effect" or "Maslow's hierarchy of needs," the broken windows theory is being accepted just because it sounds plausible, not because it is supported by experiments. Do clean walls and intact windows deter serious crime? Perhaps, but it has to be established, and the response of passers-by to flyers does not do the job. 

 

 

 

 

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VSM Pitfall: unnecessary process | Chris Hohmann

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is probably the main analysis tool and the most used in the lean toolbox. Easy to understand and handle, VSM is the starting point of improvement workshops and kaizen eve...
Michel Baudin's insight:

Thoughtful comments, as usual from Chris Hohmann.

 

I think, however, that we need to go further and question the wisdom of reducing Lean implementation to Value-Stream Mapping and kaizen events when neither tool is central to the Toyota Production System.

 

"Value-Stream Mapping," which is really materials and information flow mapping, is a minor tool at Toyota, used only with suppliers who have delivery problems. And "kaizen events" don't exist at Toyota. 

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Toyota cutting the fabled andon cord, symbol of Toyota Way | Automotive News

Toyota cutting the fabled andon cord, symbol of Toyota Way | Automotive News | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Toyota is retiring the fabled “andon cord,” the emergency cable strung above assembly lines that came to symbolize the built-in quality of the Toyota Way and was widely copied through the auto industry and beyond.
Michel Baudin's insight:

The point of having a cord rather than buttons was that the cord could be pulled from anywhere along the line, whereas buttons require you to be where they are. It is the same reason many buses have cords for passengers to request stops rather than buttons. 

 

Toyota's rationale for moving to buttons, according to the article, is the desire to clear the overhead space. Another advantage, not stated in the article, is that the alarm from a button is more location-specific than from a cord. 

 

Another reason to use a cord was that you didn't have to change it when you rearranged the line, whereas relocating buttons required rewiring. But the wireless button technology has made this a moot point. 

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40 Years on, the Barcode Has Turned Everything Into Information | Wired

40 Years on, the Barcode Has Turned Everything Into Information | Wired | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Without the barcode, FedEx couldn’t guarantee overnight delivery. The just-in-time supply chain logistics that allow Walmart to keep prices low would not exist, and neither would big-box stores. Toyota’s revolutionary kanban manufacturing system depends on barcodes. From boarding passes to hospital patients, rental cars to nuclear waste, barcodes have reduced friction like few other technologies in the world’s slide toward globalization."

Michel Baudin's insight:

While this article exaggerates a bit, the fact is that the bar code is the first successful auto-ID technology, so successful in fact that more advanced technologies, like RFID (http://bit.ly/1dG4bEX) or even QR-codes (http://bit.ly/1nO3JyW) , have yet to displace it.  

 

There are barcodes on Kanbans, but you really cannot say that the system depends on them, because Kanbans were used early on without barcodes more than two decades. 

 

The 40th anniversary of the barcode is an opportunity to remember, or learn, who invented it and why. This article does not credit the actual inventors, Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, who patented it in 1952, but only supermarket executive Alan Haberman, who made its use practical to improve inventory tracking and speed up checkout. In 1974 he led an industry committee to adopt the barcode as a vehicle to implement a Universal Product Code or UPC (http://bit.ly/1ogCrwi). It is as much the story of the emergence of a standard as a story of technology. 

 

In Manufacturing, barcodes are used almost everywhere to identify warehouse locations and stock keeping units, to validate picks, and to track component serial numbers. While celebrating the success and the usefulness of this technology, we should, however, remain aware of its limitations.

 

Even in supermarkets, barcode reading remains a largely manual process. A human still has to wave around small items in front of a reader, or a reading gun in front of large items, and it often takes multiple attempts before you hear the beep confirming a successful read.

 

Fully automatic barcode reading is occasionally found in manufacturing operations where the environment is clean, with good lighting, high contrast, and a controlled orientation. QR codes are less demanding. They can be, for example, etched on the surface of a metal workpiece, and read inside the work enclosure of a machine-tool.

 

RFID tags hold the promise of full automatic reading at a distance. It has made them successful in public transportation passes like the Octopus card in Hong Kong (http://bit.ly/1mqoPwC) or the Navigo card in Paris (http://bit.ly/1rJUpue), as well as in electronic toll collection in the Fastrak system in California (http://bit.ly/1mqpb6j). 

 

Barcodes are also limited to IDs and cannot be updated. As a consequence, they have to be used in the context of an information system that contains all the data keyed on the ID, which can be "the cloud" in a supply chain, or a local manufacturing execution system in a factory.

 

By contrast, a high-end RFID tag can locally contain the entire bill of materials of a product moving down an assembly line, its current location in the process, and any measurements that may have been made on it at earlier operations. For a finished product, it can contain the entire maintenance history of a unit. 

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Ex-Toyota exec preaches production gospel to aspiring supplier | Automotive News

Ex-Toyota exec preaches production gospel to aspiring supplier | Automotive News | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Paula Lillard is now the bright hope for nth/works. She has come to help instill the Toyota Production System -- or TPS -- for a supplier that urgently wants it.
Michel Baudin's insight:

This article paints a picture of what implementing Lean is really all about. It starts from the business needs of a parts supplier to the household appliance industry that wants to move into auto parts, where tolerances are tighter. 

 

And implementation is centered around what Lillard calls giving the plant "a little TLC." According to the article, her first task was "to ask employees to write and create step-by-step instructions on how to do their jobs." 

 

This is a far cry from all the nonsense about starting with 5S. It does not require value-stream maps, and it cannot be done in so-called "Kaizen events." Instead, it is patient work that requires time and perseverance.

 

There is a TPS twist on work instructions -- using A3 sheets posted above workstations rather than 3-ring binders on shelves -- but such instructions  have been recognized as essential since the 19th century, and have been part of the industrial engineering curriculum since its inception, decades before Toyota was started. 

 

Yet,  the article implies that  a stamping parts manufacturer in the American Midwest survived for 70 years without them. Having seen many plants with non-existent or ineffective job instructions, I believe it, and it raises many questions.

 

 

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