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Toyota, Respect for People (or “Humanity”) and Lean

Toyota, Respect for People (or “Humanity”) and Lean | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Blog post at Lean Blog : A principle that has been often discussed (and hopefully practiced) in the Lean community over the past few years is usually described as
Michel Baudin's insight:

Great post, Mark. In concrete terms, I have found disrespect easier to explain than respect.

 

For example, giving a person a job that requires doing nothing 50% of the time is saying "your time is worthless," and therefore "you are worthless."  Many managers do not think in those terms, particularly where labor is cheap.
Ignoring complaints about minor safety issues, like sharp edges on a cart, is also showing disrespect.

There are many such aspects that are prerequisites to asking people to participate in improvement and contribute ideas.

 

The Frank Woollard quote in Bob Emiliani's comment explains why you should pay respect to your people. It's not about being nice. In the long run, you cannot compete unless your organization fires on all intellectual cylinders.

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dumontis's curator insight, February 26, 2013 7:10 AM

Also commented on this. IMO, "respect" goes even further than "just" respect for people. As you indicated as well, respect also implies not accepting work practices that endanger people's safety, waste people's valuable time as well as the customer's money. But also respecting the product, respecting suppliers and respectng internal customers. And even respecting standards, as standards (together constituting the "XPS") should reflect the cumulative, evolving experience of all sites over time.

Therefore, in the end, culture (and the aspect of "respect") cannot be "disconnected" from what Lean actually ís.

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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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Supplier Assessment -- It's The Gut That Counts Says Nobu Morita | Pat Moody

"Beyond Report Cards, Beyond Balance Sheets?  When Evaluating Suppliers, Why It’s Your Gut That Counts.

      What’s the best way for supply management and manufacturing pros to evaluate current and potential suppliers? And is there only one “best way?”  There are hundreds of supplier assessment tools, books and checklists, but there is no single standards committee that absolutely dead nuts certifies what’s out there, especially when your supplier is located two continents and three oceans and four hand-offs away!"

Michel Baudin's insight:

When assessing a manufacturing organization, I always look for information from three sources: 

1. Data, and preferably raw rather than cooked into metrics by recipes unknown to me.

2  Direct observation of production.

3. What people tell me, which may or may not agree with the data and what I sense on the shop floor. 

 

I don't see Morita as disagreeing with this, but I think we must be careful about basing decision on a "gut feel," which may be no more than the expression of prejudices you didn't even know you had. 

 

Still, when your gut feel tells you that something is not quite right, it often is. I wouldn't base my decision on it, but I would take it as a signal that further investigation is needed. 

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What to Expect From a Corporate Lean Program | MIT Sloan Management Review

What to Expect From a Corporate Lean Program | MIT Sloan Management Review | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"We studied the implementation of the Volvo Production System, or VPS. The Volvo Group, based outside Gothenburg, Sweden, is a leading manufacturer of heavy vehicles, such as trucks, buses and construction equipment. (The company sold its Volvo Cars unit in 1999.) The Volvo Group introduced the VPS in 2007, and since then, it has been implementing the VPS in its 67 factories, located in countries around the world. VPS is similar to lean production systems used in many other companies, and we believe the insights from this study can be usefully applied in other companies. We examined the five-year history of this program, visited 44 of the 67 plants and interviewed 200 managers."

Michel Baudin's insight:

The first author of this article, Torbjørn Netland, is among my favorite bloggers (http://better-operations.com/). You can rely on him for good, clear-headed writing based on actual research. And this article delivers, as expected, but not what its title says.


It's not about corporate Lean programs in general, but all about the case of Volvo. Since I have not seen this kind of disconnect on Torbjørn's blog, I suspect the title was selected by editors at the Sloan Management Review to broaden its appeal. 


A general issue that is not addressed in the article is the level of knowledge of Lean in corporate Lean programs. A company that is just starting in Lean, by definition, has no internal expertise to draw on. If it wants its Lean program to be led by experts, it has to hire them from the outside, which is problematic in two ways:

1. It is a challenge at this point for management to recognize real expertise.

2. Leaders brought in from the outside have no roots or network in the company.


The alternative is to appoint insiders and expect them to learn. But then it has to be understood that they are not in a position to prescribe what plants should do, and that their role should instead be one of facilitation, coordination, and cross-pollination of ideas between plants.  


Often, corporate Lean groups are overeager to standardize the approach across all plants -- regardless of what they make or the business and social environment in which they operate. 


If they don't want to turn the Lean program into a exercise in formal compliance, they can instead, for example, on organize periodic conferences  where representatives from different plants present their work. They can also arrange for these conferences to be hosted in turns at the different plants and include shop floor visits. And this can be supplemented by various forms of knowledge sharing on the company's intranet...


There is nothing wrong with collecting the best practices from different plants into a corporate standard, once the different plants have had the opportunity to develop these practices. But if you do it too early, all you do is stifle the creativity that you need for this purpose.

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Business Intelligence and Jidoka | Toyota's Simon Dorrat | PEX

Business Intelligence and Jidoka | Toyota's Simon Dorrat | PEX | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

Simon Dorrat is Manager of Toyota’s Business Intelligence function where he is responsible for defining and delivering all services relating to Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing including BI, ETL, Data Quality, Master Data and OLAP.  

[...] Simon shares his thoughts on how Business Intelligence fits with the Toyota Way, suggests three ways for IT to provide better value to the business and even explains why doing a kitchen renovation helped some illuminate important aspects of software development.

Michel Baudin's insight:

For the IT-phobic, a Data Warehouse is a database that makes historical data from multiple sources accessible for analytics. It is commonly used to provide management with Business Intelligence (BI). The process of periodically feeding a data warehouse is called Extract, Transfer and Load (ETL). 

 

Of course, analysis is only worth doing on data that is complete and accurate, hence the need for tools to ensure Data Quality. The different sources usually have different nomenclatures for products, processes, or facilities, and you need your Master Data to integrate them in a single, consistent model. Finally, "OLAP" stands for "Online Analytical Processing."  

 

The first sentence in the article describes Toyota as "creating the precursor to Lean Manufacturing" and nearly made me stop reading further. It would have been a mistake. 

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Health systems learn to be lean | Jodi Schwartz | Argus Leader

Health systems learn to be lean | Jodi Schwartz | Argus Leader | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

Without adding staff, the Avera Medical Group gynecologic oncologist spends 10 more minutes with each patient than he used to and leaves work two hours earlier.

'We were often stressed at our clinic and running late,” he said. “Patients sometimes had to wait, and I was always behind on documentation.'"

Michel Baudin's insight:

See Mark Graban's blog post about this article (http://lnkd.in/beNkQv2). It is a case he has been following, and is featured in the 2nd edition of Lean Hospitals (http://bit.ly/1i7wDCt).

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Who Invented the Car? | Ronnie Schreiber

Who Invented the Car? | Ronnie Schreiber | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"[...] the Nazis tried to write Austrian inventor Siegfried Marcus (who was Jewish) out of history by ordering German encyclopedia publishers to replace Marcus’ name and credit Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz as the inventors of the automobile[...]"

Michel Baudin's insight:

As this article is not about manufacturing or Lean, I hesitated about posting it. Who cares who invented the car anyway?

When President Obama mistakenly referred to the car as an American invention, it created a small diplomatic row with Germany because, as everyone knows, the car was invented by Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz...

Or was it? Not according to Ronnie Schreiber, and he shares plenty of  evidence that, until the Nazis decided otherwise, the inventor of the car was an Austrian jew named Siegfried Marcus who beat Daimler and Benz by about  two decades. 

We should care about giving credit where it is due, even for inventions that are 150 years old, and for practical reasons. We want the inventors of today and tomorrow to know that they will be properly honored for their contributions, whether or not they are able to profit from them. 

Now back to manufacturing!

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The GM Toyota Rating Scale | Bill Waddell

"In a survey of suppliers on their working relationships with the six major U.S. auto makers – Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler and GM – GM scored the worst.  But of course they did.  They are GM and we can always count on such results from them. [...] Toyota scored highest with a ranking of 318, followed by Honda at 295, Nissan at 273, Ford at 267, Chrysler at 245, with GM trotting along behind the rest with an embarrassing 244." 

Michel Baudin's insight:

While I am not overly surprised at the outcome, I am concerned about the analysis method. The scores are weighted counts of subjective assessments, with people being asked to rate, for example, the "Supplier-Company overall working relationship" or "Suppliers' opportunity to make acceptable returns over the long term." 

 

This is not exactly like the length of a rod after cutting or the sales of Model X last month. There is no objective yardstick, and two individuals might rate the same company behavior differently. 

 

It is not overly difficult to think of more objective metrics, such as, for example, the "divorce rate" within a supplier network. What is the rate at which existing suppliers disappear from the network and others come in? The friction within a given Supplier-Customer relationship could be assessed from the number of incidents like the customer paying late or the supplier missing deliveries...

 

Such data is more challenging to collect, but supports more solid inferences than opinions.

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Comment on Nike: People are people no matter where they work | Bill Waddell

"How [...] can we understand [...] Nike’s institutional commitment to systemic exploitation of folks working in factories? [...] 


The ‘manufacturing’ people at Nike are merely the internal champions of seeking out and making maximum use – abuse – of cheap labor.  If they were actually manufacturing people they would be ashamed of and outraged over factories such as the one they championed in Bangladesh – the one in which they “slogged up a dirty staircase to the top floors of an eight-story building” and had “rolls of fabric were strewn across the production floor and some windows were bolted shut.” 


No serious manufacturing person with even the least measure of pride would have urged the company to perform production in such a pig sty of a factory.  Only some sort of mercenary focused solely on grubbing for pennies wants to be associated with such a plant."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Not that long ago, the awful conditions Bill Waddell is describing in Bangladesh factories were common in the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan,... Right or wrong, today's advanced economies did sacrifice generations of factory workers on the altar of development, including my grandparents, and perhaps Bill's. It was a decade-long struggle to get past this but, by and large, we have.

What attitude should we have towards countries where workers are treated today the way they were here 100 years ago? Bill is suggesting a boycott, but how would this play out? Would the factories be improved? Would the adult workers find other employment under conditions that meet our standards? Would the child workers go back to school?
Unless we are in a position to make these outcomes happen, how sincere is our concern?

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Learning Curves in Manufacturing | Quarterman Lee

Learning Curves in Manufacturing | Quarterman Lee | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Learning Curves have traditionally been used for cost estimating and training purposes. However, they have a much wider applications, including Manufacturing and Marketing strategy. They underly the concept of Continuous Improvement. Like compound interest, they generate large benefits from seemingly small, incremental change."

Michel Baudin's insight:

It's good to see a well-documented, informative article by Quarterman Lee on a topic that is often ignored in the Lean literature but that I think if fundamental to the economics of improvement. 

 

The title mentions both Learning and Experience Curves, but the body of the article is only about Learning Curves. The difference between the two is that Learning Curves are only about labor, and were developed first, in World War II, as Quarterman points out. The Experience Curve is a generalization due to Bruce Henderson of the Boston Consulting Group in the 1960s, which applies the logic not just to labor but to all costs. 

 

The Experience Curve theory is predicated on the notion that there is such a thing as a meaningful cost per piece, and asserts that it decreases with cumulative volume along an inverse power curve, the evidence for which is in the evolution of market prices with cumulative volume in a variety of industries. 

 

The effect of this curve on pricing in an industry depends on its clockspeed. In electronics, with product lives of four years, it is dominant. In cars, where the experience accumulated for over a century is still relevant today, we are so far on the curve that it is not a major factor. 

 

The justification for an inverse power law is in fact simple. It stands to reason that, the more you have already made of a product, the easier it is to make the next unit, and therefore that costs should decrease as a function of cumulative volume. Since we are talking about a broad trend, it should also be a smooth decline. 

 

Could it be linear? No. It would mean a straight line in cartesian coordinates.and that would lead to negative costs, which makes no sense.

 

If you toggled the y-axis to "logarithmic", a straight line would represent an exponential decline. But it would not make sense either, because it would mean that you could produce an infinite volume for a finite cost. 

 

If, as in the above picture, you make both axes logarithmic, a straight line means an inverse power law. Costs never go negative, and it still takes an infinite amount of money to produce an infinite quantity. This is why, among the simple possible decline patterns, it is the only one that cannot be excluded based on its logic. 

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'Gods' Make Comeback at Toyota as Humans Steal Jobs From Robots | Bloomberg

'Gods' Make Comeback at Toyota as Humans Steal Jobs From Robots | Bloomberg | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Inside Toyota Motor Corp.’s oldest plant, there’s a corner where humans have taken over from robots in thwacking glowing lumps of metal into crankshafts. This is Mitsuru Kawai’s vision of the future.
Michel Baudin's insight:

According to the article, Toyota's management feels that maintaining the know-how to make parts manually is essential to be able to improve automated processes. 

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The Day I Thought I’d Get Fired from “The Old GM” – Putting Quality over Quantity | Mark Graban

The Day I Thought I’d Get Fired from “The Old GM” – Putting Quality over Quantity | Mark Graban | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

Blog post at Lean Blog :"[...]I’ve been in healthcare for 8.5 years now, but at the start of my career, I was an entry-level industrial engineer at the GM Powertrain Livonia Engine plant from June 1995 to May 1997. This plant was in my hometown, Livonia, Michigan and was located exactly 1.3 miles from the house where I grew up. The factory opened in 1971, two years before I was born. The factory closed in 2010 due to the GM bankruptcy and sits empty today as part of the 'rust belt' ..]"

Michel Baudin's insight:

About a decade before Mark, I spent time implementing scheduling systems in GM plants, and my memories, while not great, are less gloomy than Mark's. My main project was at the GM aluminum foundry in Bedford, IN (http://bit.ly/1fRFTcF) which is still open today, unlike the Livonia plant where Mark worked. 

 

I remember being impressed by the depth of automotive and manufacturing knowledge of the GM engineers and managers; I also remember them as unable to implement any of their ideas, because it was dangerous to be perceived as someone who makes waves. They had no need for the scheduling system, but it was a corporate decision to deploy it in 150 plants, and they just had to get along. 

 

The company culture was dysfunctional -- particularly in quality, safety, and improvement --  but the plant was in a small town where the employees all knew each other and worked to make a go of it as best they could. And, they are still around. 

 

I have since experienced a radically different quality culture in another car company. The quality manager in a parts plant once noticed that defectives had been shipped to final assembly. The parts had been machined so well that they didn't leak at final test even though they were missing a gasket. 

 

The quality manager --  who told me the story -- felt that he had to do whatever it took to prevent the cars being shipped with the defective parts. What it did take was driving two hours to the assembly plant at night, locating the finished cars with the defective parts in the shipping yard, and removing their keys. 

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Steve Jobs on Juran | Curious Cat | John Hunter

Steve Jobs on Juran | Curious Cat | John Hunter | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"This webcast shows an interesting interview with Steve Jobs when he was with NeXT computer. He discusses quality, business and the experience of working with Dr. Juran at NeXT computer. The video is likely from around 1991."

Michel Baudin's insight:

The interview starts slowly, with Jobs collecting his thoughts before speaking, and it was not supposed to be about Juran. Jobs is the one who brings up Juran in response to a question about quality.

 

At first, he reverently calls him "Dr. Juran" -- Juran was not a PhD -- and then, affectionately, "Joe Juran." Steve Jobs as the respectful disciple is something I had not seen before. What was he so impressed with? Here are a few I picked up in  the video:

 

1. While focused on quality, Juran did not see it as more than it was. It is about making good products and services; it is not a philosophy of life. 

 

2. For all his accomplishments, Juran remained simple. He treated everybody alike, and  answered every question put to him as if it were the most important in the world. 

 

3. Juran was "driven by his heart" to share what he had learned and found out in decades of work. 

 

Towards the end of the video, the 30-year old Jobs sounds more and more as if he setting a role model for himself. But Juran lived to be 103; Jobs died at 56, only three years after Juran, and did not get the chance. 

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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, 10:04 AM

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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The Goals That Matter: SQDCM | Mark Graban

The Goals That Matter: SQDCM | Mark Graban | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

Blog post at Lean Blog : "Today is the start of the 2014 World Cup, which means much of the world will be talking about goals.I’m not really a soccer, I mean football, fan but I’m all for goals. In the Lean management system, we generally have five high-level goals. These were the goals taught to us in the auto industry, where I started my career, and they apply in healthcare."

Michel Baudin's insight:

As I learned it, it was "Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety, and Morale" -(QCDSM) rather than SQDCM. I am not sure the order matters that much. The rationale for grouping Quality, Cost, and Delivery is that they matter to customers, while Safety and Morale are internal issues of your organization, visible to customers only to the extent that they affect the other three. 

 

They are actually dimensions of performance rather than goals. "Safety," by itself, is not a goal; operating the safest plants in your industry is a goal. In management as taught in school, if you set this goal, you have to be able to assess how far you are from it and to tell when you have reached it. It means translating this goal into objectives that are quantified in metrics. 

 

In this spirit, you decide to track, say, the number of consecutive days without lost time accidents, and the game begins. First, minor cuts and bruises, or repetitive stress, don't count because they don't result in the victims taking time off. Then, when a sleeve snagged by a machine pulls an operator's hand into molten aluminum, the victim is blamed for hurting the plant's performance. 


Similar stories can be told about Quality, Cost, Delivery and Morale, and the recent scandal in the US Veterans' Administration hospitals shows how far managers will go to fix their metrics. 


To avoid this, you need to reduce metrics to their proper role of providing information an possibly generating alarms. In health care, you may measure patients' temperature to detect an outbreak of fever, but you don't measure doctors by their ability to keep the temperature of their patients under 102°F, with sanctions if they fail.

 

Likewise, on a production shop floor, the occurrence of incidents is a signal that you need to act. Then you improve safety by eliminating risks like oil on the floor, frayed cables, sharp corners on machines, unmarked transportation aisles, or inappropriate motions in operator jobs. You don't make the workplace safer not by just rating managers based on metrics. 


In summary, I don't see anything wrong with SQDCM as a list. It covers all the dimensions of performance that you need to worry about in manufacturing operations, as well as many service operations. Mark uses it in health care, but it appears equally relevant in, say, car rental or restaurants. I don't see it as universal, in that I don't think it is sufficient in, for example, research and development. 

And, in practice, focusing on SQDCM  easily degenerates into a metrics game. 

 

 

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Next frontiers for lean | McKinsey & Company

"...Quietly, though, in Nagoya, Japan, Taiichi Ohno and his engineering colleagues at Toyota were perfecting what they came to call the Toyota production system, which we now know as lean production. Initially, lean was best known in the West by its tools: for example, kaizen workshops, where frontline workers solve knotty problems; kanban, the scheduling system for just-in-time production; and the andon cord, which, when pulled by any worker, causes a production line to stop..." 

Michel Baudin's insight:

This article implies that the "Kaizen workshop" is a tool of the Toyota Production System, when in fact it is an American invention from the 1990s and what it does is not what is meant by Kaizen in Japan (see "Kaizen in Japan versus the English-speaking World," at http://wp.me/p3Jqq9-f0O). 


Then the article describes Kanban as "the scheduling system for just-in-time production." It is really only a a tool of scheduling among many, including heijunka, just-in-sequence, consignment... The last example, Andon cords, had been observed at Ford in 1931 (http://wp.me/p3Jqq9-evI). 

 

Even if this choice of examples is unfortunate, Toyota people invented many tools while adopting and refining existing ones, and it is true that each tool, taken out of context, is of limited value. Toyota's merit is to have deployed them in a uniquely effective way as part of a system of production. 

 

This is, however, not what the article says. It jumps instead to management disciplines, like "putting customers first," an idea that bazaar merchants worldwide have had for millenia. 


"Enabling workers to contribute to their fullest potential" and "constantly searching for better ways of working" is in fact something that Toyota has done better than its competitors. And these are sound management objectives, but you could pursue them and still not be competitive. 


The article implies that the technical content of the Toyota production system is a detail. All that matters is focusing on customers and treating people right. Is it? I don't think so. 


This attitude is the root cause  of the failure of so many "Lean implementations." Until the technical content of the Toyota Production System is understood and properly valued, the Lean movement cannot claim "Mission Accomplished" in manufacturing. 




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Are Silos The Root of All Evil? | Bill Waddell thinks so

Are Silos The Root of All Evil? | Bill Waddell thinks so | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Functional silos – the idea that all engineers have to work in an engineering department, all sales people have to work in a sales department and all procurement people have to work in a purchasing department – represent the over-arching deficiency in just about all companies.  They are at the root of enormous amounts of wasted time and money and they are at the root of most lousy cultures. "

Michel Baudin's insight:

We all know bureaucratic horror stories associated with functional silos, like the manufacturing company where Sales, Engineering, Manufacturing and Accounting all had different product nomenclatures. Not only did they have multiple names for the same products, but they grouped them into families differently, so that it was impossible to get aggregate measures of anything. 

 

In light of this, it is tempting to just dissolve these departments and reorganize along the lines of what Wickham Skinner called "focused factories," Hammer and Champy "business processes," and Womack "Value Streams." The idea has been around a while. 

 

According to Mary Walton's account of the development of the Taurus 1996 in "Car" (http://bit.ly/S1vki2 ), this is what Ford did at the time.  and it cut the development time down to 30 months. According to Sobek, Liker, and Ward (http://bit.ly/1m436My), however, this is NOT what Toyota did, and it was developing cars in 24 months with functional departments exchanging memos! 

 

In addition, the Taurus 1996, while undeniably an artistically unique design,  did not set the market on fire and included body parts that were difficult to stamp out of sheet metal, Walton's book suggestst that the marketing and manufacturing members of the team, having completely transferred their allegiance to the team , failed to make it give due considerations to the needs of the groups they came from. 

 

This suggests that, while often a good idea, collocating all the participants in a business endeavor and breaking all the functional departments is not a panacea. 

 

Sometimes it is technically impossible, because, for example,  the functional department is operating a monumental machine that you don't know how to break down into smaller units that could be distributed among different "value streams." 

 

Sometimes, you can't do it for operational reasons. For example, you don't distribute Shipping and Receiving among the different production lines in the same building, because it would require more docks and access roads, and it would make truck drivers deliver to different organizations at multiple points around the same building. 

 

Sometimes, you end up having specialists report to managers who have no understanding of what they need to be effective, and can't evaluate their requests for equipment, training, or permission to attend a conference. 

 

Sometimes, you locate an engineer who needs a quiet space to concentrate on technical issues next to a boisterous sales rep who speaks on the phone all day...

 

Unfortunately, I don't think all evil has just one root. It's a bit more complicated. 

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Dispelling myths about manufacturing | James Manyika and Katy George

."Myth 1. All manufacturing companies need the same things — low-cost labor, access to raw materials and markets, and a favorable business environment.

Myth 2. Trade and offshoring drove the decline in manufacturing in the U.S.

Myth 3. Manufacturing employment means assembly line work.

Myth 4. Manufacturing employment can someday return to historic peak levels."

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Does the World Need More MBAs? | Sally Blount says "Yes" | Business Week

Does the World Need More MBAs? | Sally Blount says "Yes" | Business Week | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Business is our most important social institution—improving the lives of millions. Yet it falls far short of its potential to serve society [...]  When you’re creating the next Google, Tencent, or Apple, you’re going to need people with the training, skills, and network that business education is uniquely good at providing. There’s a reason all of those companies hire people with MBAs. Even more important than the skills argument, however, is the intellectual argument for an MBA education, where there is critical knowledge to be gained. Business has evolved to be the dominant social institution of our age. Business is the cultural, organizational, and economic superforce in human development."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Bill Waddell disagrees (http://bit.ly/1nS6bUI), I do too, for different reasons.  

 

While I agree with Blount about the value of business skills, I see MBA programs as steeped in the druckerian fallacy that management is a profession in its own right, like Medicine or Engineering, and that a well-trained manager can be equally effective at running businesses in any industry, whether selling sugared water or making computers that change the world. 

 

Rather than being a specialty in its own right, "Business Administration" is best viewed as a set of skills that complements industry-specific knowledge and experience. 

 

That business is "the cultural, organizational, and economic superforce in human development" is something the dean of a business school would say. You could easily make the case for other forms of human endeavors, like universal public education, scientific research, or even democracy. 


Bill Waddell seems to think that MBAs are inherently unable to implement and sustain Lean. I have, however, met several leaders who excelled at Lean while having MBAs. But it was not all they had. 


A unique feature of this degree is that it takes over the identity of its holders, to the point that they describe themselves as "being MBAs" rather than "having MBAs." The ones I have admired for their excellence in Lean had an engineering degree and had worked as engineers before getting MBAs. 

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13 pillars of the Toyota Production System « Toyota UK news, reviews, video and pictures

13 pillars of the Toyota Production System « Toyota UK news, reviews, video and pictures | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Underpinned by thirteen core processes and philosophies, The Toyota Production System pioneered modern manufacturing as we know it. Here's what each one is and how each one works.
Michel Baudin's insight:

Thanks to Mark Graban for drawing my attention to this blog from Toyota UK and this article in particular. It is always useful to know Toyota's official line about its own system.

 

Corporate blogs are perversions of the concept of a blog, which is intended to be a conversation between an individual human and the rest of the world. When you read a post, you know who stands behind it and who will respond to your comments. Corporate blogs lack this authorial voice, and are a public relations exercise. 

 

The first "pillar" in this article is the Konnyaku stone. I had never heard of it The only kind of Konnyaku I am familiar with is gelatinous slabs found in Japanese dishes. I didn't know the name was used in polishing sheet metal, and I am still not sure what kind of a pillar of a production system it may be. 

 

The picture illustrating the Andon paragraph does not appear related to the subject. An Andon board, on the other hand, is shown as an illustration of Kanban. 

 

The picture on Jidoka shows automatic welding by robots, but the text only describes equipment "designed to detect problems and stop automatically when required," without saying that it happens to be automatic. The paragraph also describes operators stopping production "the moment they spy something untoward," which, while important, is not jidoka per se.

 

"Kaizen" is described as "a mantra for continuous improvement." I thought it was just continuous improvement, not a mantra for it. The paragraph also states that it achieves "efficiency optimization." If it did, however, you would be at an optimum, and continuous improvement would no longer be possible.

 

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A Company Without Job Titles Will Still Have Hierarchies | Harrison Monarth | HBR Blog

A Company Without Job Titles Will Still Have Hierarchies | Harrison Monarth | HBR Blog | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Radically flat. That’s the management goal that Tony Hseih, founder of e-commerce giant Zappos, aims to achieve by the end of 2014. To get there, Hsieh plans to toss out the traditional corporate hierarchy by eliminating titles among his 1,500 employees that can lead to bottlenecks in decision-making. The end result: a holacracy centered around self-organizing teams who actively push the entire business forward."

Michel Baudin's insight:

In this strange article, organization, hierarchy, and status is treated exclusively as a psychological issue. There is not a word about the need to get the organization's work done, and its implications in terms of responsibility and authority. 

For example, you need a process to resolve differences of opinion on what needs to be done. Particularly when the choice is not obvious, you need one person mandated to make a decision and take responsibility for the consequences. It's called a manager. 

As an employee, at any level, you need someone who speaks for the company and can tell you its expectations. It's called a boss. 

It may be psychological uncomfortable to follow procedures and report to another human being, but it is generally recognized as a price you have to pay to get 10 people -- or 300,000  -- to work effectively towards a common goal. 

Remove all these structures and procedures, and what do you get? Self-organized teams doing great work? Or indecision, frustration, bullying, and chaos? 

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Karl Rickman's curator insight, April 26, 4:42 AM

I agree with Michael's comments. Every one needs leadership and direction. If you observe a classical orchestra with each seat warming up their particular role in the arrangement it is utterly painful noise even though each are professional musicians. When the Band Director steps in front, taps the podium and leads the professionals to become beautiful music. The keys is minimizing the natural gap between the leader and the team not eliminating it.

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When "Lean" is Watered Down to "The Customer is King"

When "Lean" is Watered Down to "The Customer is King" | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Recently, I lost my wallet and had to replace a couple of bank cards (a situation millions of people face yearly). The first bank I called required me to slowly navigate through an automated system with an endless succession of prompts, while I grew increasingly frustrated and weary. Finally—after almost an hour!—a robotic voice told me...
Michel Baudin's insight:

The Toyota Production System (TPS) is the best performing way we know to build cars, and it has a rich technical and managerial content. From the 1970s on, Toyota promoted among its suppliers. They were joined in the 1980s by Toyota's competitors and a few non-automotive pioneers, who didn't fully understand it. 

Rebranded "Lean" in the 1990s, it was sold first in many manufacturing sectors and then outside of manufacturing. As a consequence, however, the "Lean Body of Knowledge" offered by most consultants and training organizations became more and more generic, and gradually drained of substance.

In this article, Lean boils down to "maximizing customer value using fewer resources." If that is what Lean is,  then I don't know any businessperson -- from my local dry-cleaner to the CEO of a major manufacturing company -- who would not claim to doing it. They might express it in simpler words, like "taking care of customers without wasting money," but the meaning is the same. 

"The customer is king" is Business 101, not the defining characteristic of TPS or Lean as I see it, which addresses the needs of all stakeholders, not just customers. A "relentless customer focus" may be what you want to tell customers about, but it is not the basis for providing supplier support or career planning for production operators. 

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Lean Systems Program Turns 20 This Year | UKNow

Lean Systems Program Turns 20 This Year | UKNow | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"It has been 20 years since the University of Kentucky took its first big step on the road to becoming a world-leading center for lean systems research and training.

 

The journey began in 1993, when representatives from the UK College of Engineering embarked on a series of discussions with Toyota leaders, regarding the possibility of collaboration in lean knowledge development and manufacturing research and development.[...]"

Michel Baudin's insight:

Congratulations! 

 

This story is about a Lean certification program at the University of Kentucky (UK),  not in the United Kingdom. 

 

I have some reservations about Lean Certification in general (http://bit.ly/1q4kVw0) and the following comments about the University of Kentucky program in particular (http://bit.ly/1hN04wp), based on the online syllabus:

 

The University of Kentucky's program includes Core Courses -- a train-the-trainer program -- and Specialty Courses -- for professionals outside of production operations. Some but not all the specialty courses are targeted at functions within the organization but others are about tools. Just the core courses add up to three one-week training sessions, while each specialty course is typically a one- or two-day workshop.

From the University's web site, however, I cannot tell when, or if, participants ever learn how to design a machining cell, or an assembly line, or how to reduce setup times. In the core courses, it's great to talk about mindsets, culture, and transformational leadership, but where is the engineering red meat?

The specialty courses address planning, improvement methods, logistics, supplier development, and other unquestionably important topics, but offer nothing about manufacturing or industrial engineering.

 

 

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Saskatchewan Health Care Data Not Showing Improvements from Lean?

Saskatchewan Health Care Data Not Showing Improvements from Lean? | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"The government has stated that its kaizan promotion offices do not measure or evaluate lean, and that no reports have been written. At the same time, however, it has stated that lean has already demonstrated benefits. To test this, I reviewed the HQC website - Quality Insight - that has a significant amount of provincial data. For each indicator I will report the first and last month or year where data were collected."

Michel Baudin's insight:

The article's author, Mark Lemstra, from The StarPhoenix, claims that Lean yielded no improvement in the financial or medical performance of Saskatchewan's health care system,  based on data from the Health Quality Council (HQC), available at http://bit.ly/1dQmihS.

 

The article's title is only about "Savings," but most of the body is about health outcomes and perceptions, and presented through numbers buried in text. 

 

Before taking this article at face value, I recommend checking out the HQC website directly. As in the featured image above, some metrics have clearly improved. Other indicators are flat, like  the willingness of patients to recommend their hospital, or the rate of medical error reports. And some have moved in the wrong direction, such as those related to pain management. 

 

It is perhaps not the rosy pictures that the Lean boosters would like, but neither is it the disaster Lemstra is painting. 

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