Throughout the history of industry, there has been a constant conflict between managers and subordinates. For some reason, we just don’t get along well with each other. Or, as philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre phrased it, “Hell is other people.” In fact, large advances in mechanization and automation were due to managers wanting to take power away from workers or to get rid of workers altogether.
The concept of lean manufacturing originated on the shop floor at Toyota. Since then it has expanded into many other areas, including but not limited to lean healthcare, lean administration, lean logistics, lean services, lean hotel, lean military, lean banking, or any lean whatever topic. There is even a lean government, albeit I am somehow skeptical on that one. Even so, most practitioners of lean work in manufacturing. Hence it comes as no surprise that most lean efforts are focused on the shop floor. However, while there is usually much improvement potential on any given shop floor, it is not necessarily the area you most want to improve.
Due to popular demand related to my two posts on “Make Your Plant Tour a Success!” and “How to Misguide Your Visitor – or What Not to Pay Attention to During a Plant Visit!,” I have created a checklist for a lean visit to a manufacturing shop floor for you to download. Take this checklist with easy-to-use metrics during your shop floor visit to make yourself independent of potentially misleading data given to you by the shop floor staff. Metrics include worker utilization, machine utilization, inventory reach and turnaround, and order & cleanliness.
In the West, the standard approach for problem solving is to take a good look a the problem, after which a solution approach will pop into someone’s head. This approach is then optimized until the problem is solved. However, while this often ends up with one solution, it usually is far from the best solution possible. In Japan, a very different multidimensional problem-solving approach is common. Rather than just use any solution that solves the problem, they aim for the best solution they can find.
Standardization, visual management, and process confirmation are some important elements of lean manufacturing. Here we have an example many of you are probably familiar with – toilet paper folding at hotels. This simple example can clearly demonstrate the value of Standardization, visual management, and process confirmation.
In the previous post I talked about how to have a successful plant tour and how to get the most information out of the visit. Today’s post shares the tricks of the trade on what things the plant does NOT want you to know about.See through the ruse during a plant tour and discover how good the plant really is.
There are thousands of things to see during a plant tour. However, if you really want to know how good the plant is, there are a couple of tricks on what to watch during the tour. This post will give you a few quick but reliable metrics to estimate the performance of the plant.
Ancient Romans already knew how to manage their people. For example, the Drusus Stone monument in Mainz demonstrates the importance of keeping your people both busy and motivated.