Flexible Manpower Lines 1 – Introduction

Flexible Manpower Line 1 OperatorProduction lines with manual labor often have the possibility of adjusting manpower due to demand. Such flexible manpower lines can work with different staff numbers, and can adjust the production output to the customer demand. At Toyota, such lines are also called Shoujinka (少人化, literally “few people production”). This blog post will go into the details on how to set up such a line. Continue reading Flexible Manpower Lines 1 – Introduction

What Is Kaizen?

Kaizen Word BubbleIf you are in lean, you surely have heard of kaizen, and its English translation, continuous improvement process (CIP). It is one of the fundamental parts of lean. Kaizen generally means to improve, and in lean in particular, it means to continue improving forever. Pretty much all companies that haven’t gone bankrupt do this, often without using the word kaizen. You need to continuously improve in order to survive the harsh realities of competition. Continue reading What Is Kaizen?

225th Anniversary of the Death of Josiah Wedgwood – Father of Science in Manufacturing

Josiah WedgwoodThe British potter Josiah Wedgwood (12 July 1730 – 3 January 1795) was not only a ceramic artist, but also on the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. Wedgwood brought science into the manufacturing process. He also introduced work standards, time sheets, and many other methods that are common in the modern-day workplace.

While experiments to gain knowledge were already well known in science, craftsmen still followed the old traditions and rarely improved their craft. Josiah Wedgwood was one of the first industrialists who used this scientific method of experimenting and collecting data to propel his wares to an never-before-seen level of quality. Combining this with his keen business sense, he and his firm prospered, and the works of his firm are still highly regarded even today. Continue reading 225th Anniversary of the Death of Josiah Wedgwood – Father of Science in Manufacturing

115 Years after the Birth of Joseph Juran

On Christmas Eve 115 years ago, Joseph Moses Juran (December 24, 1904 – February 28, 2008) was born. He was a highly respected and very influential quality guru. His work not only helped the United States, but also changed Japan, possibly even more than that of his better-known colleague Edwards Deming. Time to look back on his life’s impact on the world. Continue reading 115 Years after the Birth of Joseph Juran

When and How to Use Extra Kanban

Dog with bandage and first aid kitKanban (and pull systems in general) are a beautiful way to manage production. While the number of kanban cards should be verified periodically, for certain situations, however, it may be sensible to have additional kanban prepared. These extra kanban are added to the system on short notice to alleviate symptoms of other problems. However, please do not see this as a new and cool additional feature to your kanban system. Instead, if you have to use extra kanban, then something is going  wrong. Such extra kanban are only an emergency fix and do not solve the underlying problem. Still, in some cases you do need an emergency fix. Let me explain: Continue reading When and How to Use Extra Kanban

More Reasons for Working Less

You probably hate long drudging hours working in the office and feeling really worn out at the end of the day. Maybe you’re sitting in an office working right now (and of course your reading my blog means you are working 😉 ), knowing that you will be worn out at the end of the day. This post is especially for you, looking at work hours and productivity. The good news is: Less is more, but don’t overdo it! Continue reading More Reasons for Working Less

One Up One Down – Approach to Manage Manual Production Lines

Production lines have fluctuations. Sometimes production takes longer, sometimes shorter, than the average. This makes the line balancing tricky. Besides using a simple buffer between workstations, it is also possible to adjust capacity. Other approaches I have written about include the rabbit chase and the bucket brigade. Here I present a variation of the bucket brigade called “One Up One Down.” Continue reading One Up One Down – Approach to Manage Manual Production Lines

The Inner Workings of Amazon Fulfillment Centers – Part 6

This is the sixth and last post on my series on the inner workings of the Amazon Fulfillment Center. Here I will look at some supporting processes as well as the all-important employee satisfaction. I will look at the process of taking inventory, security, their interesting office locations on the warehouse floor, Amazon Go stores, and Employee Satisfaction.

Continue reading The Inner Workings of Amazon Fulfillment Centers – Part 6