Standards are crucial to making your manufacturing system work smoothly. But where should you have standards? Sometimes you hear the answer, “Everywhere,” but this is not really helpful and I also think not really correct, either. Hence, let me talk a bit on why and where to have standards. This applies to all kinds of standards, not just the standardized work that is the most widely discussed one when talking about standards in lean.
Standards. You know they are important for manufacturing. You know Toyota and hence lean uses them extensively. But you may also know that they are not easy. I was thinking about writing a few blog posts on standards for a long time, but… it is a challenging topic. Let me give you my thoughts on standards and how to use them in lean manufacturing. But before going deeper into the use of standards over a few blog posts, I’ll provide a quick introduction on standards.
Good problem solving can seriously help you with the performance in your plant. John Shook recently pointed out another nice example to me: the Japanese Men’s 4x100m relay team during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. They were the underdogs, with none of their team having ever run 100m in under 10 seconds. Yet they stunningly won the silver medal! They achieved this through good problem solving. Let me show you the details:
Standards are one of the backbones of lean manufacturing. For a standard to be good and used consistently, it should be self-explanatory. Additionally, you should understand it well enough to easily recognize deviations from the standard. I would like to give you an example of how my thought process works when exploring a standard.
Recently I learned about a new ISO 18404 standard certifying lean and Six Sigma organizations. I think this is a highly questionable idea, with little benefit for the quality of lean manufacturing. This certification madness won’t make much difference for the quality of lean but will mostly siphon off money to the International Organization for Standardization and connected bodies for certifications of little practical value. Let me show you the details …
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.