Tag Archives: Lean Tools

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”?

The Many Flavors of the PDCA

PDCA VariantsIn my last posts I explained the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act), common mistakes, and its history. However, there is a whole fruit stand of additional versions with some modifications that have popped up: PDSA, SDCA, OODA, ODCA, DMAIC, LAMDA, FACTUAL, Kata, and 8D – and probably more that I do not know of. Let me explain a bit on the different offshoots and alternatives of the PDCA. Continue reading The Many Flavors of the PDCA

Common Mistakes with the PDCA (and Some History)

The Mysteriously vanishing Check and Act
The mysteriously vanishing Check and Act

In my previous post I explained how the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) should work. However, while most people know the PDCA in theory, I find that the practical implementation is often lacking. And, quite frankly, I am also sometimes sloppy with the PDCA way more often than I would like to admit. Time for some reflection and observation on what works, and why so often it does not.

Hence, in this post I will show common pitfalls and problems when doing a PDCA. Also, simply because it is one of my pet interests, I will also show a bit of the history of the PDCA and its origins in quality control. Continue reading Common Mistakes with the PDCA (and Some History)

The Key to Lean – Plan, Do, Check, Act!

PDCA Circle ColorPlan-Do-Check-Act (or PDCA) is one of the key elements in lean manufacturing, or for that matter in any kind of improvement process. In my view, it is the most basic framework for any kind of change. All other lean tools are only on top of the PDCA.

In my experience, most lean projects in the Western world fail not because they do not have some detailed tool, but because the PDCA is neglected. Of course, (almost) everybody knows what the PDCA is, but there is a huge difference between knowing the theory and doing it correctly. In this post I will  explain in more detail how PDCA should work. In my next posts I will show you the common pitfalls of PDCA, its history, and the many, many different variants of the PDCA that are out there.  Continue reading The Key to Lean – Plan, Do, Check, Act!

The A3 Report – Part 3: Limitations and Common Mistakes

A3 on ClipboardIn the last two posts I showed you the basics of the A3 report and the (possible) content of the A3 report. In this last post of this series, I would like to talk about common mistakes and the limitations of the A3 report. Overall, for me the A3 report is a minor tool to help organize the real work of problem solving, despite all the fuzz some make about the A3 report. Continue reading The A3 Report – Part 3: Limitations and Common Mistakes

The A3 Report – Part 2: Content

Handwritten A3 report
An A3 visualization in pencil

In my last post I wrote about four basic factors for an A3 report (one sheet / A3 size / with pencil / on the shop floor). This week I would like to show you what goes in an A3 report. The important framework here is PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act). However, in my view there is no single perfect A3 template that will fit all of your problems. Rather, an A3 is created on the go. Make the tool fit the problem, not the other way round! Continue reading The A3 Report – Part 2: Content

The A3 Report – Part 1: Basics

DIN A Paper SizesIf you know your way around lean, you surely have hear about the A3 report, famously named after the DIN-A3 paper size. It is also known as the A3 problem-solving sheet. The goal is to get all the  necessary data on one sheet of A3 paper using pencil while you are on the shop floor. The A3 report is commonly used for problem solving, but also for project management or status reports. Continue reading The A3 Report – Part 1: Basics

Line Balancing Part 6 – Tips and Tricks for Balancing

Hands thumbs upIn the last post I described how to balance a line using pen and paper. This description was a basic, straightforward approach. In this post, I will enhance it with a few tips and tricks for balancing a line. Also, I will briefly describe how to balance a line using computers and then tell you why I much prefer the paper version. Continue reading Line Balancing Part 6 – Tips and Tricks for Balancing