Work Improvement before Equipment Improvement

Maintenance Work in IndustryWhen improving a system, Western engineers love to take the technical approach and to optimize the machines and tools. However, at Toyota this is seen differently. At Toyota, they try to address a problem by first training the people, followed by improving the standards and the layout, before improving the equipment and finally twiddling with the design. Let’s have a closer look at how Toyota is approaching improvements.

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Standards Part 9: Leader Standard Work

Leader standard work. Sometimes also called standard work for leaders.  A term that floats around quite a bit in lean manufacturing, but I always find it hard to make it more specific. The idea follows the lean concept to standardize things, and tries to standardize the work of managers or leaders. The idea itself is not bad, but it always feels like nailing Jell-O to a wall. There are definitely some worthwhile elements, but sometimes it appears almost mystical. Let’s have a look:

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Standards Part 8: Example for a Work Standard

In this series I have talked a lot about standards in general, work standards, standardized work. Let me now show you an example of a work standard, an actual instruction on how to do a work. Since standards in industry are usually confidential, I present you my own standard on how to make a cup of ramen noodles. I used a software tool Soft4Lean SWI to help me with the format; more on that later.

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Standards Part 6: Standardized Work

Standard work, or better called standardized work, is a popular method in lean manufacturing. It is closely related to standards and hence part of this longer series on standards, but with a focus on manufacturing or assembly. The actual creation of the work standard is only one of the last steps, and a lot of time is put into balancing the production and matching the customer takt. I have written a lot about some of these aspects before, but let me give you an overview.

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Standards Part 3: How to Write a Standard

Standards are the result of problem solving. In this article I will talk more about how to write a standard, but this is the outcome or the last steps of the problem-solving process. From this post onward I will look more at work standards, although the following is applicable to a lesser extent to part standards. Again, a standard is not something done on its own, but is part of a problem-solving process.

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