Category Archives: Management

All posts about management techniques, success stories, failures, etc.

Dealing with Uncertainty

UncertaintyA lot of decisions in lean manufacturing have uncertainty. How many products will I sell (and what is my customer takt)? Which layout is more efficient? Should I believe expert A or expert B? Uncertainty is a part of life in manufacturing. In fact, the higher up you go in the hierarchy, the more you have to deal with uncertainty. And often these are not just simple “A or B” type of questions, but highly complex and interacting decisions like “What should our new line look like?” Here are some suggestions on how to deal with uncertainty. Please note that they will not answer all of your questions but will help you make better decisions. Continue reading Dealing with Uncertainty

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

Volkswagen Supplier Relations Failure

volkswagen-fightIn the last months, there has been an unprecedented power struggle between Volkswagen and its suppliers. Two of the suppliers stopped delivering, leading to a full stop of multiple production lines at six Volkswagen plants, including its main plant Wolfsburg. This whole mess comes on top of the separate problems Volkswagen has had with its Dieselgate. In this post I would like to look in more detail at what happened. Continue reading Volkswagen Supplier Relations Failure

The Curious Case of 100% Work Performance

Poker of acesEmployment is an exchange of work for money. In my last post I showed a few tricks on how operators keep management in the dark about the true workload. However, management is also not giving out all the details on their side either. Naturally, the true value of the work is difficult to asses. Even if companies could know exactly how much each employee contributes to the success, they probably would keep this information top secret.

More interesting, however, is the value of the target workload, where operators are able to work continuously at 130% capacity without problem. The following are my own thoughts, as I have never seen these conclusions anywhere else before.

Continue reading The Curious Case of 100% Work Performance

How Operators Hide the True Workload

Poker cards and chipsEmployment is an exchange of work for money. As with most negotiations, both sides would like to keep their cards hidden, so employers and employees use different tricks in an attempt to hide the true facts from the other.

This post looks at the tricks of employees, whereas the next post will look at those of employers. As employees have more control over the work than they do over the salary, this post shows how to keep management in the dark about the true workload. Continue reading How Operators Hide the True Workload

Visit the Shop Floor or Your People Will Fool You! – Genchi Genbutsu

Jester
Only the fool trusts the presentation…

To manage your shop floor (or any other part of your enterprise), you need to have reliable data about the situation on the shop floor. Even with reliable data, the remaining uncertainty makes good management a challenge. Many managers, to save precious time, rely on data and information provided to them by their people. This is a grave mistake! Always verify at least part of the data with you own eyes! You would be surprised how different – and usually worse – it is in reality. Continue reading Visit the Shop Floor or Your People Will Fool You! – Genchi Genbutsu

The Problems of Cost Accounting with Lean

Calculator and MoneyAccounting is one of the cornerstones of the modern economy. Cost accounting in particular helps in decision making with the goal to maximize profit. Many decisions are based on these numbers. Unfortunately, cost accounting usually does a really poor job of capturing the essence of manufacturing in general and lean manufacturing in particular. Continue reading The Problems of Cost Accounting with Lean