Category Archives: Lean Tools

Posts related to different lean tools, often also known as the lean toolbox. Different methods that can be used to improve the shop floor, although it is risky to use methods on their own without a whole lean system.

The Lean Bucket Brigade – Part 2: Details and Caveats

In my last post I explained the basics of the bucket brigade as a self-organizing manufacturing line. The key to making this system work is the process for handing over the part to the next worker. An unsuitable hand-over could mean lots of waiting time for the workers. Hence, I would like to go into more detail on how to do the hand-over of the part. Continue reading The Lean Bucket Brigade – Part 2: Details and Caveats

The Lean Bucket Brigade – Part 1: Overview

Many topics in lean address how to deal with uncertainty and fluctuations (or mura for unevenness). There is a particularly neat trick for manual lines that self-organizes fluctuations in the workload: the Bucket Brigade (also known as bump-back)! It does have some advantages, but it also has quite a few limitations and prerequisites for it to work. Most importantly it works best only for very short cycle times as for example picking materials. Unfortunately, these requirements are rarely mentioned in literature. Let me show you the basics work in this post before I go into some of the trickier details in the next post. Continue reading The Lean Bucket Brigade – Part 1: Overview

How to Ramp Up a Kanban System – Part 1: Preparation

Simple Kanban LoopDesigning a kanban system on paper is much easier than implementing it on the shop floor. In many of my previous posts I discussed the design of a kanban system in detail. In these two posts I will discuss the steps needed to actually put the system on the ground.  This first post is the preparation, and my next post will be the actual switch to the new kanban system. Continue reading How to Ramp Up a Kanban System – Part 1: Preparation

Kanban Card Design

kanban-card-pileA kanban is, in its basics, information to reproduce or reorder parts. Hence, in its most basic form it has to say “make me this part” or “bring me this part.” While such very simple kanban systems are possible, usually it helps to include other information on the kanban card. In this post I want to talk about the design details of a kanban card, especially what kind of information we should include on the card. Please note that the items on the list below are suggestions. Which ones you actually include depend on the system you want to establish. Continue reading Kanban Card Design

Toyota’s and Denso’s Relentless Quest for Lot Size One

Relay Race Hand Over
Just when you need it …

A famous step toward perfection in a lean production system is a lot size of one. However, few people realize what enormous effort and rigor Toyota applies to achieve this goal. During my visit to a Toyota plant and the APMS conference in Tokyo in 2015, I saw quite a few stunning examples of this quest. Let me show you … Continue reading Toyota’s and Denso’s Relentless Quest for Lot Size One

How to Make “Just in Time” Work – Part 2

Women Relay Race
Just in time…

In my previous posts I explained what “Just in Time” is, and started with different actions on how to make “Just in Time” work. As it turns out, there are a lot of things you can do, and one blog post was not enough. So here’s part two on how to make “Just in Time” work! As before, be warned that most of these methods or actions are not easy! Continue reading How to Make “Just in Time” Work – Part 2

How to Make “Just in Time” Work – Part 1

Relay Race 1939
Just in time

Just in Time (JIT) is the delivery of parts just when you need them. In my last post I explained what JIT is all about. In this post (and the next one) I will go into much more detail on different measures you can take toward JIT. But be warned, most of them are not easy, either in implementing or in convincing cost accounting about it beforehand. Continue reading How to Make “Just in Time” Work – Part 1

What Is “Just in Time”?

Just in time …

Just in Time (or JIT) is a powerful method to reduce costs and increase efficiency. However, it is also very difficult to achieve. Most times when a Western company tells me it does JIT, it turns out that this is merely wishful thinking. Let me tell you what JIT really is. I will also talk a bit about the history of JIT. Finally, I will show you a few negative examples of wishful thinking common in modern industry. In my next posts I will go into more details on how to make it work. Continue reading What Is “Just in Time”?