Category Archives: Practical Tips

Hands on, practical tips that you can use for your work immediately. Academic theory is reduced to a minimum

Line Layout Strategies – Part 2: I-, U-, S-, and L-Lines

line-layout-overviewThe layout of a line can make quite a difference in the performance of your line. The U-line is most famous, although in my view while good it may not be the right thing for all situations. There is also the I-line, the S-line, and the U-line. In my last post I described some general thoughts on line design and took a look at the big picture.  In this post I want to look at and compare actual line layouts, in particularly the I, U, S, and L layout. Let me give you an overview of the different options. Continue reading Line Layout Strategies – Part 2: I-, U-, S-, and L-Lines

Line Layout Strategies – Part 1: The Big Picture

Ford assembly line 1913In flow shops, you have a production line of some sort. This may be an assembly line or a manufacturing line; this may be automatic or manual. In lean, you often hear about the famous U-line.

While this is a great solution, it may not fit all problems. Depending on the surrounding conditions, a different line layout may be beneficial. This post is the first in a series on line layout. In this post I would like to discuss what you should consider when designing a new line layout. The next post will look at actual line layout options. Continue reading Line Layout Strategies – Part 1: The Big Picture

On the Benefits of a Pencil in Lean

Pen vs Pencil
Pen or pencil?

In many lean books and other writing, it is often recommended to use a pencil for certain tasks as, for example, the A3 report. Yet, I have seen very few uses of pencil in lean manufacturing in the Western world. Most of the documents are computer printouts based on Excel, PowerPoint, or Word. The few handwritten documents are usually done in pen (see also my post on The Advantage of Handwritten Data on the Shop Floor).

In this post I will look into why almost nobody uses pencils and why it would be good to use more pencils. I myself am also guilty of that, but I plan indeed to use more pencil in the future. Continue reading On the Benefits of a Pencil in Lean

Taiichi Ohno’s Chalk Circle

Chalk CircleOne of the famous teaching methods by Taiichi Ohno is the chalk circle. The method itself is simple. A circle is drawn on the shop floor near a point of interest. A disciple is put in the circle and told not to leave it until he is picked up again by the teacher.

In this post I will explain a bit about the chalk circle, how to use it for teaching, and how to use it for yourself. Continue reading Taiichi Ohno’s Chalk Circle

Cycle Times for Manual Processes

Alfonsina Morini
Even more on cycle times…

In my last two posts I described how to measure cycle times. However, for manual processes measuring cycle times is quite different, since the humans that are measured usually strongly dislike being measured. Therefore, it is difficult to measure it directly. There is an alternative to calculate it, but this also has lots of pitfalls. Let me explain you a bit about human psychology, and how to measure manual cycle times. Continue reading Cycle Times for Manual Processes

How to Measure Cycle Times – Part 2

Bicycle New Zealand
More on Cycle Times …

This is the second post on how to measure the cycle time of a process. Again, the cycle time is the fastest repeatable time in which you can produce one part. Hence, as part of a series on manufacturing speed measurements I continue with more details on what cycle times really are. This is the second post on how to measure cycle times (post 1 here), with an additional third post focusing on the details of manual cycle times coming up next. Continue reading How to Measure Cycle Times – Part 2

How to Measure Cycle Times – Part 1

Quadracycle 1886
The good old cycle times …

The cycle time of a process is a key to match the supply with the demand in lean manufacturing. Everybody working on a shop floor knows the term. Yet, I still find that people sometimes confuse what exactly it means. The cycle time is the fastest repeatable time in which you can produce one part. Hence, in this post as part of a series on manufacturing speed measurements I would like to dig deeper into what cycle times really are, and how to best measure them. As it turns out, there is actually quite some detail on how to measure cycle times, hence I split this post into two parts (second part How to Measure Cycle Times – Part 2), with an additional third post focusing on the details of manual cycle times. Continue reading How to Measure Cycle Times – Part 1

Theory and Practice of Supermarkets – Part 2

grocery store market supermarket retail shop
How to use supermarkets correctly …

In my last post, I described how supermarkets work in theory. But while knowing the theory helps, actually creating a working supermarket is much more difficult. Are there situations where supermarkets are not so useful? (Hint: Yes!). And what is needed to have a working supermarket? Let’s find out! Continue reading Theory and Practice of Supermarkets – Part 2