Lean is my life. Whenever I see someone working, I cannot help but to think about the work from a lean point of view. Every now and then I come across a little gem, where I am just thoroughly impressed with someone’s approach to manage and improve their work. During my winter vacation in Iceland, I came across just such a gem with an excellent corporate culture for continuous improvement. Let me introduce Te & Kaffi and its lean mindset.
Japan is a wonderland for anybody interested in lean. Of course there is the archetype of lean manufacturing, the Toyota group and its Toyota Production System. However, access to Toyota plants is restricted, and during their guided tours you can observe only so much. (See for example my post on Evolution of Toyota Assembly Line Layout – A Visit to the Motomachi Plant as the result of such a tour).
Fortunately, the goal to achieve perfection is also found in many other processes in Japan, many of which you can observe almost anytime, whenever you like and for how long you like. In the past I blogged about Lean in the Japanese Public Toilet and Japanese Standard Pointing and Calling on Japanese trains. This time I’m looking in more detail into the Japanese supermarket, in particular its checkout system.
There is an inflation of key performance indicators (KPIs) in industry. In my last posts I have explained how KPIs are often wrong, and why bad and fudged KPIs are a huge waste. Yet, you cannot really run a larger corporation without KPI. In this post I will finally give some advice on (1) what you need to do to measure good KPI, and (2) how to avoid fudged KPI.
Modern manufacturing works with a lot of performance measures, often called key performance indicators (KPIs). Unfortunately, they are rarely accurate, and often even intentionally misleading. In my previous post I described some examples of commonly manipulated KPIs. In this post I would like to explain the ugly consequences of incorrect or manipulated KPIs. In a final post I will also show some ways that you can reduce this negative effect. But first, how do bad KPIs (and hence most KPIs) hurt your company?
This is the second post of a two-post series on shop floor etiquette (first post here). I find this a very necessary post, as I have way too often observed visitors to the shop floor lacking manners (and occasionally, I may have lacked manners myself 🙁 ). Hence, please do not treat this post as optional, but try to incorporate it into your daily shop floor work. Being accepted on the shop floor is crucial for any successful change on the shop floor.
There is often a distinct lack of appreciation and good manners toward shop floor employees. Yet, lean manufacturing happens on the shop floor. Not in Excel, not in PowerPoint, not in meeting rooms. As such, you need to become part of the shop floor in order to change the shop floor. For this, you need the support and goodwill of the people on the shop floor. The first step to getting their support is to have good shop floor manners. Due to the length of the post, I have divided it into two posts. These two posts will give you some guidelines on how to behave on the shop floor. (The second post is here)
In my last post, I started to show the main reasons why EPEI leveling with a fixed repeating schedule so often fails (for details on EPEI leveling, see Theory of Every Part Every Interval (EPEI) Leveling). This post continues with more reasons and also gives some advice on how to reduce the damage or even increase its chances of success. It also has a suggestion for a test to determine if your system is ready for leveling.
Again, there seems to be a lean religion that claims that putting up a leveling box will lead to salvation. Well, Lean is not a religion or magic. Lean is hard work, and you actually need to understand what you are doing. Just copying something without understanding is a good way to fail, especially with leveling.
In my last post I presented the EPEI leveling pattern (also known as EPEC, EPEx, Heijunka, fixed repeating pattern, or simply leveling). While in theory this approach looks pretty solid, in my experience it rarely works in practice. In fact, most of these types of leveling that I have seen were complete rubbish. They were a dog-and-pony-show to please management at the expense of performance and shop floor efficiency.
Furthermore, lean manufacturing seems often to be confused with a religion. People believe that if you put up a leveling box your manufacturing system will have salvation. Well, Lean is not a religion. Lean is hard work, and you actually need to understand what you are doing. Just copying something without understanding is a good way to fail, especially with leveling.