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Lean Implementation: Featured Article

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Lean manufacturing was developed in the early 1900's as a method to reduce waste while producing goods. Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda are given credit for developing the Toyota Production System (TPS) which is known as lean manufacturing.

Toyota defines waste as being three-fold; muri (overburden), mura (inconsistency), and muda (eliminate waste). Muri or overburden is the unreasonable work that management assigns upon workers and machines due to poor organization. Some examples of muri are carrying heavy weights, dangerous tasks (behavior-based safety issues), and working at a significantly faster than normal pace. Muri defines this work as pushing a person or machine to a pace beyond their normal limits. Muri is associated with the preparation or planning phase of the production process.

Mura or inconsistency focuses on the implementation and elimination of fluctuation related to scheduling. Your operations department will be in change of scheduling the quality and volume of products as they are related to the production process. Finally, muda or waste elimination is dealt with after the process is completed. Management oversees muda and should consider how to eliminate the deeper causes of muda formed in muri and mura. Once the causes are determined, management will then use them in the next project and slowly begin eliminating all waste together.

Muda has 7 different kinds of variables that will help to eliminate or reduce the production of waste.

  1. Over-production

  2. Waiting

  3. Transporting

  4. Inappropriate Processing

  5. Unnecessary Inventory

  6. Unnecessary/Excess Motion

  7. Defects

The idea behind lean manufacturing is not only to reduce waste but to get the right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity. During this process the Lean Manufacturing system also strives to achieve perfect work flow while minimizing waste and being flexible to change. Successful implementation of lean manufacturing will lead to cost reduction and provide a safer working environment.

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Evaluating KPI's: Featured Article

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Key performance indicators (KPIs) are financial metrics and non-financial metrics that are used to help a business define and measure its progress toward its goals. KPIs are used in business methodologies to assess the current state of the business and to determine a course of action for any business related problems.

Monitoring KPIs is known as "business activity monitoring." Business Activity Monitoring is used to provide real-time information about the current status and results of processes, operations and other transactions. Business Activity Monitoring helps to make a business make better decisions, quickly address problems, and re-position them to take advantage of upcoming opportunities.

KPIs are commonly used to add value to difficult to measure activities such as leadership development, service, and customer satisfaction. KPIs will vary depending upon the organization you are in. The strategy of your organization must be assessed as well to determine the proper KPI. A good business can easily identify, track, define, and act up their KPIs to help them toward their goals.

A KPI must be part of a measurable objective. For example, a KPI could be "Increasing the average revenue per customer from $100 to $200 by 2010." The KPI in this scenario would be `Average Revenue Per Customer'.

KPIs are sometimes confused with critical success factors (CSF). A KPI is something that quantifies management objectives and enables for the measurement of strategic performances. A CSF is something that is critical in order for the business to achieve its specified goal or level of performance. An example of a CSF is installation of a call centre for providing questions whereas a KPI would be the number of new clients you have at the call center.

The KPIs will be different for every organization. For example, a university would use the failure rate of its students as a KPI so it will help them understand their position in the educational community. Businesses tend to sway toward financial KPI such as the percentage of income they receive from returning customers.

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DMAIC Overview: Featured Article

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For over 20 years, Six Sigma has been one of the leading process improvement methodologies implemented by manufacturing firms and other businesses. A basic component of Six Sigma is DMAIC. DMAIC is a way to improve work processes by eliminating the defects to reach a 3.4 defect per million opportunities.

Six Sigma asserts that in order to achieve high quality processes, continuous effort must be made to reduce any variations that may exist. In order to reduce the variations in the manufacturing and businesses processes, each process must be measured, analyzed, controlled, and improved. In order for Six Sigma to be successful, the entire organization must adopt the program and have a complete mindset change.

The methodology behind Six Sigma has saved businesses millions of dollars. Motorola developed Six Sigma in 1986 and they have stated that the program has saved them $17 billion dollars. There are 2 major methodologies behind Six Sigma, DMAIC and DMADV. DMAIC is used when you want to fix an existing product or service. DMADV is used when you want to create a new product or service.

The acronym DMAIC can be broken down into the following categories:


  • D - Define. Define the project goals and customer deliverables.

  •  M - Measure. Measure the process to determine current performance.

  •  A - Analyze. Analyze and determine the root cause of the defects.

  •  I - Improve. Improve the process by eliminating defects.

  •  C - Control. Control future process performance.

During the define phase, your Six Sigma team will define all the goals and outcomes you would like to achieve. The goals must be consistent with the demands of your customers and the business philosophy. The define phase is the "roadmap" for the future.

The measure phase will determine whether or not defects have been reduced. You will use metrics to determine the measurements, the metrics used are: input, process and output indicators. The measurements must be accurate and relevant in order to determine whether or not the defects were reduced and if they will continue to be reduced in the future.

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Evaluating your options (DMAIC, DMADV): Featured Article

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Six Sigma is the process of evaluating and changing business practices and processes to make them more efficient and to reduce the amount of waste in the production process altogether. Six Sigma has two main ways it can be approached to improve business flow and productivity. They are DMAIC and DMADV and both methods are based on the ideas of Deming's Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle. The main difference between the two methods is that DMAIC is used mainly for improving the operations and productivity of an existing business and DMADV is used to make new products or new designs. Both are acronyms and each letter represents an aspect of the implementation that helps improve the flow and quality of business.

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The Pros and Cons of Six Sigma: Featured Article

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Six Sigma is a methodology and approach used to implement lean manufacturing in a production process or service oriented business setting. There are many different reasons why people use Six Sigma and there are also many reasons why people say it may not be the best approach. Of course there are pros and cons to every business idea and there isn't anyone who has found a formula that will work all the time for everyone. So each case has to be considered individually to ensure that it really is the best option. There are many different opinions about lean manufacturing in general and in Six Sigma processes. Here are some pros and cons about them.

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Software options to help you establish your Six Sigma process: Featured Article

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Data collection is one of the most important parts of Six Sigma implementation in process improvement for businesses. It is very difficult to improve a process that you don't know much about and it is sometimes very difficult to know much about a process unless you have had the chance to do research on the process itself. The most important parts and results of Six Sigma can't actually manifest themselves until there has been data collected and evaluated. It is also discouraged to move forward with the problem solving phase of the Six Sigma process until you have actually acquired accurate, reliable and useful data. You also need to have it all organized so you can make sense of all the numbers in context. This is why having a software program to collect and organize all the data you plan to use in your Six Sigma implementation is recommended. Here is some helpful info about different programs and features available to help you make the best decision for your business.

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Implementing Six Sigma: Featured Article

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Introduction

Welcome to the wonderful world of Six Sigma implementation! It is hard for those who know anything about Lean Manufacturing to be able to think of lean methodologies without thinking of Six Sigma. The Six Sigma method is both complex in construction and simple in concept. Many books have been written and seminars taught on only small aspects of the Six Sigma process. So, implementing a project of any kind may sound simple enough, however, depending on the complexity of the lean issues you are trying to resolve, your implementation of Six Sigma could be quite the challenge. If at any time during the implementation process you realize that the task you have undertaken is too daunting, remember that there are many dozens of highly experienced consulting companies who offer their services on whatever aspect of the implementation that you have become caught up on. Additionally, there are a variety of different pieces of software that can be used to assist in the mathematical and sequential steps of the Six Sigma methodologies.

Steps for implementing Six Sigma

There are several basic steps used for the implementation of Six Sigma in an organization. These steps include beginning with having the company's leadership commit to the implementation process at hand. A strong mentality for change and taking a hard look at how to improve is vital if the company is to progress and ultimately increase profits. The next step in the Six Sigma implementation process is to maintain access to current information on the requirements or demands of your customers. A process management system must then be put into place to measure current performance and identify where you need to make improvements. Establishing these systems of management and measurement take a trained staff if they are to be done properly, that is why many organizations implementing Six Sigma choose to employ individuals who have specific training in the different roles of implementation. Black Belts and Green Belts, as these trained Six Sigma implementers are called, have the responsibility to design and improve processes and to assist process owners. Management must be involved in all these steps of implementation in order to reinforce the need that the implementation team has for process management and improvement design. The last step that an organization seeks to attain is to implement successful Six Sigma methods throughout the organization effectively and clearly, making communication another characteristic that must be fine tuned.

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Implementation roles within six sigma: Featured Article

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Introduction

In order to best create and follow through with the process of six sigma implementation, various members of the implementation team must take on specific roles. These specific six sigma roles and responsibilities have been given conventional martial arts names. The roles for implementation cause a project team to make changes that create a more professionally trained quality management team. No longer will the production floor workers and the statisticians that work with production numbers be separated. Through instigating these roles and creating a cohesive working group, production problems can be better identified and solutions can be found (as is the purpose of Six Sigma implementation in the first place).

In the implementation roles within six sigma, individuals with the titles of leaders and champions usually receive the highest level of technical training. While those who are trained in a "belt" level will usually continue working their assigned jobs while their training is taking place (a lesser time commitment). Of course the time it takes to compile a well-trained team and the effects of the training process on the production line will vary from company to company and is largely dependent on the consultants that are commonly outsourced for this training. In the paragraphs that follow you will be able to read more detailed descriptions of how these roles are typically defined.

Six sigma implementation roles

The six sigma methodology is filled with many roles. When it comes to the implementation roles of six sigma, most lean experts would agree that the following roles should be included in the implementation team. Of course there are no universal rules governing your six sigma implementation structure, so making changes to these prescribed roles is up the discretion of the individual organizations and their unique needs.

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How to measure and chart in six sigma: Featured Article

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Measurement is one of the most important parts of Six Sigma implementation. It is essential to have a uniform reporting and collection processes throughout the implementation so that the decisions made are actually based on accurate information.

In other words, the purpose for measuring and charting in Six Sigma is to create a way to quantify cost, speed and quality and to use charting to create a detailed map of the process, data on key input and output variables, and an analysis of the capability of the process. The six sigma tools for measuring and charting include the following:



  • Prioritization Matrix

  •  Process Cycle Efficiency

  •  Time Value Analysis

  •  Pareto charts

  •  Control charts

  •  Run Charts

  •  Failure Modes and Effect Analysis (FMEA)


Measurement is the "M" in the DMAIC methodology for six sigma implementation. Many agree that the measurement aspect of this approach is what makes the six sigma method a success even when other attempts at making a change have failed. In the measurement phase of the implementation process it is the responsibility of the team evaluating the measurement system to observe the process, gather data and then chart that process.

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Evaluating your results: Featured Article

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After investing all of the time and effort into implementing a six sigma process or methodology, you will surely want to know how to effectively evaluate your results and use the most of the information that you have acquired. It is only worth the trouble if it yielded results that are encouraging and lead to profits now and in the future through improved quality and customer satisfaction.

An old saying says that the job isn't done until the paperwork is complete and filed with the right people. This is also true of Six Sigma. You are not finished with your implementation until you have evaluated the results of the process and determined what worked best and what could have been done differently or what needs to be done differently from that point forward. After the DMAIC process has been completed and the required change has been decided upon and understood, that doesn't mean that it can or even should be implemented. Making the actual changes is another process that must be undertaken and scrutinized from all angels too. Process control is one of the most important parts of Six Sigma and should be done consistently throughout the whole process whenever possible so that the end result will be as close to the desired outcome as possible. Although there are probably many more, here are 10 criteria for evaluating the success of Six Sigma projects.

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Establishing lean manufacturing goals for your organization: Featured Article

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Lean manufacturing is much more than just a type of business; it is a way of thinking and a lifestyle for many different business owners. Becoming a lean thinker is easier than many people think and that is part of the beauty of the whole process of going lean. Because lean manufacturing involves almost every aspect of the business, the goals that you set for being lean will also involve most or all of the parts of your business. The difficult part about implementing lean manufacturing is not in the concepts because they are generally very simple, but in the continual implementation of the ideas of lean manufacturing. Keeping momentum going is what will make your lean manufacturing operation successful over the long run and goals need to be implemented to accomplish this.

One of the most important concepts in lean manufacturing is to have a system of data collection and reporting set up so that you can measure how much waste is being produced by the company. In a paper called "The Balanced Scorecard - Measures that Drive Performance" the idea that data reporting systems are necessary for the essential measurements for a business to thrive. Evaluating a business from the perspective of lean manufacturing tries to answer the questions like "What do customers think of us? What internal processes must we be the best at? How can we improve? And what do shareholders think of us?"

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DMADV overview: Featured Article

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Motorola developed the Six Sigma methodology in 1986 as a way to identify and remove errors and defects in the manufacturing and business processes. Since this time, Six Sigma has become of one the most popular business management strategies used in a number of different industries.

Six Sigma uses a series of quality management methods including statistical methods. Six Sigma also create an infrastructure within the organization following a method similar to the karate belt system. Each individual is considered an expert in their particular field. The overall goal of Six Sigma is to produce defects below 3.4 million defects per million opportunities. What this means is you will have a 99.9996% error ratio.

Similar to Lean Manufacturing and other business improvement processes, Six Sigma believes that manufacturing and business processes can be measured, analyzed, improved and controlled. Six Sigma also asserts that in order for a process to be successful, it must have a complete commitment from management on down to the last person in the organization. Unlike other processes, Six Sigma also has an increased emphasis on strong leadership and a commitment to making clear decisions that begin with verifiable data instead of assumptions and guesswork. Six Sigma follows a infrastructure of "Champions", "Master Black Belts", "Black Belts", "Green Belts" and "Yellow Belts".

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Designing the experiments for six sigma: Featured Article

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Introduction

Six sigma is fast becoming a proven approach for businesses and organizations to use to improve their performance through taking advantage of some of the principles of lean management. Lean practices, which were once mainly practiced in manufacturing organizations, have earned a place in a variety of different industries. One who is unfamiliar with the possible benefits of six sigma may look at some of the terminology that is used and run the other way. It is true that six sigma is filled with process acronyms and that to the naked eye the process of doing something such as designing your own experiments can be daunting. However, the success of those who have made the efforts to implement a six sigma designed experiment find that the whole mentality of six sigma revolves around very fundamental elements that every organization has and can improve. The design of any experiment within six sigma starts with a simple vision of a goal that is to be achieved. That goal is the same for many: to deliver products and services to customers with no defects from the eyes of the customers. Once the vision is there, business leaders begin the experiment design process by defining their organization's objectives in numerical terms so that the aspects pertinent to the experiment can be accurately measured. As you start the process of designing your own experiments for six sigma remember that six sigma experiment design is all about the methodology that you choose.

In the paragraphs that follow you will be able to read more of an introduction and explanation of the process that is involved in designing experiments for six sigma. The design of the experiment is without a doubt a crucial part on the entire six sigma implementation process and careful study and preparation is needed. Keep in mind that there are specialists who have experience in designing the experiments for six sigma are available for consultation. Neglecting the design of your experiment is not something that you want to do as it can easily jeopardize the usefulness and accuracy of the information that you have worked so hard to analyze.

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Deciding which data to measure using six sigma: Featured Article

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One of the most important parts of Six Sigma process improvement methodology is data collection and measurement. Data can almost always lead to the problems that are causing a decrease in product quality, quantity, or any other part of the production process that might be having trouble at the time. Without data it is extremely difficult to decide what things need to be changed to make improvements in the process. There are several key steps to make the best decisions about data collection in the Six Sigma process. Here are some pointers that will help you understand the process better and make the best decisions for your business.

There are all kinds of different data that might be useful to a business while they improve their products and processes. The following four steps will help ensure that the most valuable and relevant information will be gathered each time. First, decide what needs to be measured. Second, decide on how samples will be taken and evaluated. Third, come to agree on operational definitions. And fourth, carry out the actual measurement of the data also known as measurement system analysis (MSA).

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Phase 5 - Shitsuke of the 5 S methodology: Featured Article

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Many businesses have focused on implementing quality improvement methodologies such as lean manufacturing or Six Sigma. Another popular method derives from 5 Japanese words: Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. These words are called the 5 S Methodology. Translated to English, the words mean: Sort, Set in Order, Sweep, Standardize, and Sustain.

The first S is Seiri or Sort. This phase focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace. During this phase you will sort through all the tools and materials in the work environment and eliminate the unused ones. This process is often referred to as red tagging. A red tag is placed on all the items that are not needed to complete your job. If you do not discard the items, you will move them to a holding area. Some used items are moved to a warehousing facility while other items may be discarded. Sorting eliminates broken tools, obsolete materials, and raw scrap materials. This allows you to free up valuable space.

The second S is Seiton or Set in order or straighten. This phase focuses on effective storage methods and efficiency. Set in order is the process of arranging tools and equipment after a manner that promotes effective work flow. Some strategies for set in order include outlining work areas and locations, painting floors, modular shelving and cabinets, and shadow boards. By having a designated area for everything, you will eliminate wasted time by your employees as they search for items.

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Phase 4 - Seiketsu of the 5 S methodology: Featured Article

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Several large companies have implemented the 5 S Methodology to improve the overall performance and productivity of their businesses. Some notable companies include; Hewlett-Packard Support Center, Boise Cascade and Boeing.

Some of the results these companies achieved are as follows:


  • A reduction in call time and training cycles.

  •  A reduction in stored parts inventory.

  •  Improved productivity, morale, levels of quality, and safety.

  •  A reduction in incident rates.

  •  A reduction in machine downtime.

The 5 S Methodology derives from five Japanese words that begin with the letter `S'. The 5 S Methodology was created to simplify your work environment, reduce waste and improve safety, quality, and efficiency. The five words are: Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Sweep (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke).

Seiri - Seiri is the first phase in the 5 S Methodology and it is translated as the sorting or organizing phase of the program. It focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace. This is when you sort through all the tools and materials in the work environment and eliminate the unused ones. You will keep only used tools and throw away the other tools.

Seiton - Seiton is the second phase in the 5 S Methodology and it means to straighten or set in order. Set in order focuses on effective storage methods and efficiency. Set in order is often called straighten because it is the process of arranging tools and equipment after a manner that promotes effective work flow. Some strategies for set in order include outlining work areas and locations, painting floors, modular shelving and cabinets, and shadow boards. Think about how having a designated "cleaning closet" will save you time when you are looking for a broom or a mop. By having a designated area for everything, you will eliminate wasted time by your employees as they search for items.

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Phase 3 - Seiso of the 5 S methodology: Featured Article

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The main part of seiso is cleaning and in today's workplace it is very easy for us to think that cleaning is somebody else's job. But it is this type of attitude that makes seiso such an important part in the workplace. In fact seiso is actually an attitude that people have about cleaning; this attitude considers dirty and untidy workplaces as intolerable.

This is important to train your workers in because dirtiness is actually related to numerous problems. Dirt can both cause and cover up scratches, but it can also hide hazardous areas. Not to mention the fact that the dirt itself can be hazardous. But those are just a few of the problems dirt and untidiness can cause.

Within seiso there are three broad levels of cleaning.

Here is a look at the three levels of cleaning that are a part of seiso:
1. Overall cleaning of everything
2. Cleaning of specific items, tools, machines and workplaces
3. Cleaning at the detail level, getting to grime in screw threads, corners and crevices

One thing that you need to know when it comes to the cleaning aspect of seiso is that it must be properly planned and it should not be left to just the workers alone. In fact the supervisor or group leader should be the one to make the cleaning schedule, but they should also supervise its implementation until they are happy that everyone understands their role in the cleaning schedule and can do their jobs without question.

Preparing a cleaning schedule that your company is going to follow is actually really simple; you just need to keep in mind a few things. The cleaning schedule can be for the entire workplace or you can break it down into a different schedule for each machine, which ever works best for your company.

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Phase 2 - Seiton of the 5 S methodology: Featured Article

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The 5 S methodology is a structured program that allows your company to achieve total organization, cleanliness, and standardization in the workplace. Having a well-organized workplace will help your company have safer, more efficient, and more productive operations. When employees have an organized workspace and are able to find things in a quick, effective manner, they are able to achieve their responsibilities quicker and will be happier by installing a sense of pride in their work.

The 5 S methodology was invented in Japan and stands for 5 Japanese words that start with the letter `S': Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke. When the words are translated to English, they mean: Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardize and Sustain.

The 5 S methodology is broken down as follows:

Seiri - Seiri is the sorting or organizing phase of the program. During this step you will create piles and sort through all the tools, materials and other products used in your company and keep only the essential items. All the other items will be discarded out or stored away in an accessible location that is out of the way from daily activities.

Seiton - Seiton means to straighten or set in order. Seiton is focused on creating efficiency in the workplace by arranging the tools, equipment and parts after a manner that will promote proper work flow. The tools should be placed in an area that promotes work flow and are easy to find for specific job responsibilities.

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Phase 1 - Seiri of the 5 S methodology: Featured Article

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The 5S process is a reference to a list of 5 Japanese words that are the name of a methodology. The 5 S methodology is a philosophy and a way to organize and manage the workspace and work flow in your business to improve efficiency by eliminating waste, improving flow, and reducing process variables.

The 5 S methodology generally works best for organizing a shared workspace, like a shop floor, and provides ways on how to keep it organized. Many people refer to the 5 S methodology as a "housekeeping" methodology, however this is incorrect because it entails much more than organizing a workspace.

The goal of the 5 S methodology is not only a way to improve the organization of your business, but it is also a way to improve workplace morale and efficiency. With the 5 S methodology, you will assign everything to a specific location, so you are not wasting time searching for things. It is also easy to notice when something is missing, because it is not in its specified location. The advocated of the 5 S methodology commonly state the benefits of this method lie in deciding what should be kept, where it is kept, and how it is stored. Typically, the 5S process builds a clear understanding between employees about how the work should be done and instills ownership of the various processes to individual employees.

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What is visual control?: Extended Entry

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Visual control is a process to help increase efficiency and effectiveness by making things visible. Several companies use visual control to make things easier or more effective by the use of visual signals. Quite often the signals come in the forms of kanban or heijunka boxes or colored clothing (if you are a team). For companies who have tried it, visual control makes things more effective by simply making things visible. It has been proven that when things are visible, they remain in our conscious minds. Visual control effectively communicates the information that is needed for decisions to be made.

More often than not, visual control is used to replace textile or numerical data displays with graphical displays. The graphical displays must be simplistic enough that an employee can glance at a sign and easily understand what is being said. Some companies use boards where tools are kept. Other examples of visual control include LED displays, colored lights or computer displays. These devices are usually called Andon boards. Visual control can be considered anything that is business related that is visual. For example, you can post the latest sales report on your cubicle wall and this is considered visual control.

Common reasons to use visual control include:


  • Provide instruction to employees

  •  Provide immediate feedback to consumers

  •  Convey information

  •  Make the problems, abnormalities, or deviation standards visible to everyone so corrective action will be taken ahead of time.

  •  Display the operating or progress status in an easy to see format

Quite often kanban or heijunka cards are used as visual control.

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Understanding Production Flow: Extended Entry

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Production flow is often call mass production, repetitive flow production, or series production. Production flow uses production lines to continually move large amount of items through the production process. Each product will have the same amount of time dedicated to it on the production line in order to keep the process moving smoothly. This also means that once one product has been produced, the next product must begin production immediately following the completed one.

Quite often production flow is used for car manufacturing where the doors, wheels, bonnets, and engines are all added to a chassis as it moves along an assembly line. Production flow is used for companies who want to produce a high volume of the same item. Henry Ford used production flow when he produced the Ford Model T car in the early 1900's.

In fact, Ford was a late developer of production flow. Production flow was first developed in Venice hundreds of years earlier. The Venice Arsenal used production lines to assemble nearly one ship a day. This made the Venice Arsenal the world's first factory. Production flow became increasingly popular when Johannes Gutenberg published the Bible on a printing press in the mid 1400's. Guns were mass produced during the American Civil War by the Springfield Armory. Also during this time, watches were mass produced as well. As you can see, production flow has been around for hundreds of years.

Production flow became increasingly popular in the American system of manufacturing because it was new, sophisticated machinery that relied on electricity, versus steam power. Production flow is one of the leading reasons for the boom in the American economy in the early 1900's.

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The Toyota Production System: Extended Entry

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The Toyota Production System was first developed in the early 1900's as a method to reduce waste while producing goods. Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda are given credit for developing the Toyota Production System (TPS) which is also known as lean manufacturing. The TPS system was developed between 1948 and 1975. Ironically the idea for lean manufacturing came to Toyoda when he was in a supermarket. He observed the simple idea of creating an automatic drink re-supplier, when a customer wants a drink he takes it and it is replaced with another.

Toyota defines waste as being three-form, muri (overburden), mura (inconsistency), and muda (eliminate waste). Muri or overburden is considered to be all the unreasonable work that management assigns upon workers and machines due to poor organization. Some examples of muri are carrying heavy weights, dangerous tasks (behavior-based safety issues), and working at a significantly faster than normal pace. Muri defines this work as pushing a person or machine to a pace beyond their normal limits. Muri is associated with the preparation or planning phase of the production process.

Mura or inconsistency focuses on the implementation and elimination of fluctuation of scheduling. This usually falls to the operations level to schedule the quality and volume of the production process. Finally, muda or waste elimination is dealt with after the process is completed. Management oversees muda and should consider how to eliminate the deeper causes of muda formed in muri and mura. Once the causes are determined, management will then use them in the next project and slowly begin eliminating all waste together.

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What is Lean Manufacturing?:Extended Entry

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Lean manufacturing is often referred to as lean production or just "lean". It was developed in the early 1900's as a method to reduce waste while producing goods. Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda are given credit for developing the Toyota Production System (TPS) which is known as lean manufacturing. The TPS system was developed between 1948 and 1975. Ironically the idea for lean manufacturing came to Toyoda when he was in a supermarket. He observed the simple idea of creating an automatic drink re-supplier, when a customer wants a drink he takes it and it is replaced with another.

Toyota defines waste as being three-form, muri (overburden), mura (inconsistency), and muda (eliminate waste). Muri or overburden is considered to be all the unreasonable work that management assigns upon workers and machines due to poor organization. Some examples of muri are carrying heavy weights, dangerous tasks (behavior-based safety issues), and working at a significantly faster than normal pace. Muri defines this work as pushing a person or machine to a pace beyond their normal limits. Muri is associated with the preparation or planning phase of the production process.

Mura or inconsistency focuses on the implementation and elimination of fluctuation of scheduling. This usually falls to the operations level to schedule the quality and volume of the production process. Finally, muda or waste elimination is dealt with after the process is completed. Management oversees muda and should consider how to eliminate the deeper causes of muda formed in muri and mura. Once the causes are determined, management will then use them in the next project and slowly begin eliminating all waste together.

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The 5 "S" approach to Lean Manufacturing: Extended Entry

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Improving quality, reducing costs, and improving safety are all key concerns for anyone who works for a manufacturing company or other organization. Many companies implement lean manufacturing in order to reduce excess wastes that occur within a company.

What is lean manufacturing?
Lean manufacturing is often referred to as lean production or just "lean". It was developed in the early 1900's as a method to reduce waste while producing goods. Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda are given credit for developing the Toyota Production System (TPS) which is known as lean manufacturing. The TPS system was developed between 1948 and 1975. Ironically the idea for lean manufacturing came to Toyoda when he was in a supermarket. He observed the simple idea of creating an automatic drink re-supplier, when a customer wants a drink he takes it and it is replaced with another.

Toyota defines waste as being three-form, muri (overburden), mura (inconsistency), and muda (eliminate waste). Muri or overburden is considered to be all the unreasonable work that management assigns upon workers and machines due to poor organization. Some examples of muri are carrying heavy weights, dangerous tasks (behavior-based safety issues), and working at a significantly faster than normal pace. Muri defines this work as pushing a person or machine to a pace beyond their normal limits. Muri is associated with the preparation or planning phase of the production process.

Continue reading "The 5 "S" approach to Lean Manufacturing: Extended Entry"

Pull Production - Understanding Kanban: Extended Entry

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A pull production system is based on customer demand. Basically it is a concept that each manufacturing component must be in line with another department in order to build a final part to the customer's expectations. Your business will become leaner because your production process is designed to only produce products that are deliverable. This leads to leaner business because you will not be housing excessive stock of finished or part-finished products.

A pull production system is often referred to as "kanban". Kanban methods use visual aids to show that you have completed a process or the process requires more work. kanban or pull production systems are not available for all businesses because of product types, lead times and stock holding arrangements. Pull systems have been shown to reduce your lead times and the costs associated with production.

How a Kanban Production Control System works.
Again, a kanban system uses visual aids to control the movement of materials between different work stations. The name kanban referred to a Japanese sign shop that used a visual image on a sign to communicate the type of products that were sold. The Toyota Production System implemented kanban into their transport container. It is a card that is attached to the transport and storage containers. The purpose of the kanban card is to identify part number and the container capacity. There is other information on the card as well that provides easy, visual, signals to the employees.

Continue reading "Pull Production - Understanding Kanban: Extended Entry"

Production Leveling: Extended Entry

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Production leveling is a technique used by the Toyota Production System to reduce waste (mura) and to develop production efficiency. Production leveling believes in using incentives to establish a constant demand rate for the products you produce. This allows for the processing in the future to be constant and predictable. Quite often production leveling will be referred to as "Heijunka" or production smoothing.

What is Heijunka?
Heijunka is another Japanese term that "refers to a system of production smoothing designed to achieve a more even and consistent flow of work." As you can see Heijunka is designed to level the production volume and to level the production by product type. In order to understand production leveling, we will look at the 2 aspects of Heijunka in more detail.

Starting with production leveling, Toyota's view is that production systems vary in the muri and mura and the capacity of a machine is forced in some time periods. Muri or overburden is considered to be all the unreasonable work that management assigns upon workers and machines due to poor organization. Some examples of muri are carrying heavy weights, dangerous tasks (behavior-based safety issues), and working at a significantly faster than normal pace. Muri defines this work as pushing a person or machine to a pace beyond their normal limits. Muri is associated with the preparation or planning phase of the production process. Mura or inconsistency focuses on the implementation and elimination of fluctuation of scheduling. This usually falls to the operations level to schedule the quality and volume of the production process.

Continue reading "Production Leveling: Extended Entry"

Lean training: Extenden Entry

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The goal of lean manufacturing is to reduce or eliminate excess waste and increase overall profit and production. There are several different ways to implement lean manufacturing into your company. Depending upon the type of company you are, one of the following lean manufacturing approaches will work for you.

The Toyota Production System
Toyota defines waste as being three-form, muri (overburden), mura (inconsistency), and muda (eliminate waste). Muri or overburden is considered to be all the unreasonable work that management assigns upon workers and machines due to poor organization. Some examples of muri are carrying heavy weights, dangerous tasks (behavior-based safety issues), and working at a significantly faster than normal pace. Muri defines this work as pushing a person or machine to a pace beyond their normal limits. Muri is associated with the preparation or planning phase of the production process.

Mura or inconsistency focuses on the implementation and elimination of fluctuation of scheduling. This usually falls to the operations level to schedule the quality and volume of the production process. Finally, muda or waste elimination is dealt with after the process is completed. Management oversees muda and should consider how to eliminate the deeper causes of muda formed in muri and mura. Once the causes are determined, management will then use them in the next project and slowly begin eliminating all waste together.

Continue reading "Lean training: Extenden Entry"

Creating a Lean Manufacturing Environment

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Creating a lean manufacturing environment in your workplace boils down to two things; employee motivation and good management. Several companies implement lean manufacturing, but do not take the proper steps to ensure it is successful. Lean manufacturing must be a total commitment by all parties involved in order to become successful. All the different levels of the organization need to put forth their best efforts on a day-to-day basis and work together toward achieving improved performance and a reduction in waste.

Several companies choose to implement the Toyota Production System. The Toyota Production System is a "customer-first" mentality. Within the Toyota Production System, each department is completely dependant upon the customer and making sure the customer is satisfied. In order to implement, you must first understand some of the basic concepts of lean manufacturing.

Lean manufacturing is focused on the elimination or reduction of waste and the improvement of the overall performance of a company. The philosophy behind lean manufacturing is often given credit to Toyota for their development of the Toyota Production System. Toyota focuses on reducing wastes in order to improve the overall customer satisfaction level. The Toyota Production System believes there are 7 wastes in the workplace that can be reduced or eliminated in order to improve the overall performance of a company.

There are several different approaches to lean manufacturing including 5S, Kanban, visual control, and production flow. Toyota defines waste as being three-form, muri (overburden), mura (inconsistency), and muda (eliminate waste). Muri or overburden is considered to be all the unreasonable work that management assigns upon workers and machines due to poor organization. Some examples of muri are carrying heavy weights, dangerous tasks (behavior-based safety issues), and working at a significantly faster than normal pace. Muri defines this work as pushing a person or machine to a pace beyond their normal limits. Muri is associated with the preparation or planning phase of the production process.

Continue reading "Creating a Lean Manufacturing Environment"

Continuous Process Improvement- The Kaizen Approach: Extended Entry

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Kaizen is the Japanese strategy for continuous improvement. The main goal of kaizen is to eliminate waste. This strategy is similar to lean manufacturing, with a few differences. The kaizen approach focuses on continuous improvement in all aspects of life. For a business; the kaizen approach works at continually improving all the functions of a company from the CEO down to the assembly line of workers.

Toyota Motor Company was one of the first Japanese businesses to implement Kaizen. After World War II, Kaizen was adopted by several Japanese companies to help rebuild after the war. Since this time, kaizen has become so successful, that it has spread to several businesses throughout the world.

How kaizen works in business.
Kaizen calls for never-ending methods of improvement. It goes beyond simply improving productivity. Kaizen is a process and if it is done correctly, it will help to humanize the workplace, eliminate hard work, and will teach people how to perform to the best of their abilities and reduce waste in the manufacturing process.

Continue reading "Continuous Process Improvement- The Kaizen Approach: Extended Entry"
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