In my last three posts I showed you how I look at shop floors, starting with some general guidance (FOCUS!) and going into detail through the different aspects of what I try to observe on the shop floor (5S, visual management, waste, unevenness, overburden, and safety). This usually gives me a reasonable overview of what is going on on the shop floor. However, this is not all I do. For projects, I may have project specific observations (e.g., when I do a SMED project, I observe in detail the actual changeover). But beyond that, there is another source: the available data! Hence, this post will compare information you observed yourself on the shop floor (the gemba) vs. data obtained by others or by computers.
This post continues my series on how I try to understand an unfamiliar shop floor. In the last post I talked about how to see visual management, 5S, and waste. These are usually easy to see. This post continues with unevenness, overburden, and safety, which are usually harder to observe.
In my last post I looked at some general tips on how to see the shop floor. Most of them involve focusing on the right areas of the shop floor, and avoiding interesting but not relevant technical details. This post will discuss different aspects that can be observed. Here, too, try not to see everything at the same time. This will make you like a young tiger hunting ducks; if he tries to catch them all, he will catch none.
I am in the lucky position of seeing a lot of different shop floors through my work. This requires me to quickly understand what is going on on the shop floor and to estimate how well the shop floor is managed. What my hosts tell me and what I see unfortunately does not always match. In this series of posts I would like to go through my steps for understanding the shop floor to form my own opinion on the production system.