Tag Archives: Practice

The Folly of EPEI Leveling in Practice – Part 1

LevelingIn 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. Continue reading The Folly of EPEI Leveling in Practice – Part 1

Common Mistakes of Top Executives – A look at “Undercover Boss”

Undercover BossI occasionally watch the reality show Undercover Boss, where top executives work undercover in their own companies. Over and over again I see these managers making the same mistake: They have no understanding whatsoever of what is really happening on the front lines. It is a typical case of not going to the shop floor often enough, or in lean speak, no genchi genbutsu (Japanese for “go and see”).  So, <dramatic voice> Why do bosses all make the same mistake? Will they ever learn? Will you enjoy this post? See for yourself in the post below! </dramatic voice>. Continue reading Common Mistakes of Top Executives – A look at “Undercover Boss”

Top Five Cases When NOT to Use a FiFo

FiFo LaneStandard wisdom for creating a good material flow is to use FiFo lanes (First in, First out). In other words, the first part that goes into the line should also be the first part that comes back out. As such, FiFo lanes and its big brother, Supermarket, are essential for any lean material flow. However, some rules of wisdom can be bent and others can be broken. Here are the  top five cases when NOT to use a FiFo lane. Continue reading Top Five Cases When NOT to Use a FiFo

Eight Rules for Total Gridlock in the Organization (Video)

Prof. Dr. Peter Kruse
Prof. Dr. Peter Kruse

There is an excellent and highly sarcastic video around by Prof. Dr. Peter Kruse, professor of organizational psychology at the University of Bremen. In this, he describes his Eight Rules for Total Gridlock in the Organization (8 Regeln für den totalen Stillstand). Since these eight rules are quite relevant to the lean change process, I have transcribed, translated, and subtitled the German video for you into English. Continue reading Eight Rules for Total Gridlock in the Organization (Video)

A Successful Example of Lean Implementation – Trumpf and its Synchro Manufacturing System (Part 2)

Trumpf LogoHalf a century ago, Toyota started to develop its Toyota Production System, the archetype of every lean manufacturing system. Almost every manufacturing company nowadays seems to try to implement lean manufacturing. At the same time, most also seem to fail miserably, creating a lot of huff and puff with little benefit. However, occasionally there are (very) few companies that have implemented lean manufacturing successfully. Trumpf and its Synchro production system is such a successful example of Lean manufacturing, and one of the finest production system for machine tool builders. Due to the length I have split this post into two parts. This is the second part. Continue reading A Successful Example of Lean Implementation – Trumpf and its Synchro Manufacturing System (Part 2)

A Successful Example of Lean Implementation – Trumpf and its Synchro Manufacturing System (Part 1)

Trumpf LogoAlmost a century ago, Toyota started to develop its Toyota Production System, the archetype of every lean manufacturing system. Almost every manufacturing company nowadays seems to try to implement lean manufacturing. At the same time, most also seem to fail miserably, creating a lot of huff and puff with little benefit. However, occasionally there are (very) few companies that have implemented lean manufacturing successfully. Trumpf and its Synchro production system is such a successful example of Lean manufacturing, and one of the finest production system for machine tool builders. Due to the length I have split this post into two parts, the second part being available here. Continue reading A Successful Example of Lean Implementation – Trumpf and its Synchro Manufacturing System (Part 1)

The Advantage of Handwritten Data on the Shop Floor

Hand with PenOn a modern shop floor, you will find lots of data and documentation. These are quite useful to track and improve the situation in the operations. Many of them are quite nicely printed charts, diagrams, and tables of key performance indicators (KPIs). However, when I look closer at them, I often find that they were last updated six months ago, or even more than one year ago. That is useless in practical terms! You need up-to-date information if you want to manage a process. For this, entering data by hand is most useful. In this post I will discuss different advantages of tracking data by hand on the shop floor. Continue reading The Advantage of Handwritten Data on the Shop Floor

Determining the Size of Your FiFo Lane – The FiFo Formula

FiFo Lanes
How long should it be?

FiFo lanes are an important tool to establish a pull system. They are often combined with kanban. However, while there is a lot of information on how to calculate the number of kanban (the Kanban Formula), there is very little information available on how large a FiFo should be. In my last post I talked about why we need FiFo lanes. In this post I want to discuss how large a FiFo should be.  Continue reading Determining the Size of Your FiFo Lane – The FiFo Formula