The concept of lean manufacturing originated on the shop floor at Toyota. Since then it has expanded into many other areas, including but not limited to lean healthcare, lean administration, lean logistics, lean services, lean hotel, lean military, lean banking, or any lean whatever topic. There is even a lean government, albeit I am somehow skeptical on that one. Even so, most practitioners of lean work in manufacturing. Hence it comes as no surprise that most lean efforts are focused on the shop floor. However, while there is usually much improvement potential on any given shop floor, it is not necessarily the area you most want to improve.
Lean happens on the shop floor. When working hands-on in manufacturing, there are a number of items that can help you. Throughout the years I have optimized a small lean toolkit that I bring with me for my everyday practical work. Here are seven gadgets that help me to do lean on the shop floor.
Due to popular demand related to my two posts on “Make Your Plant Tour a Success!” and “How to Misguide Your Visitor – or What Not to Pay Attention to During a Plant Visit!,” I have created a checklist for a lean visit to a manufacturing shop floor for you to download. Take this checklist with easy-to-use metrics during your shop floor visit to make yourself independent of potentially misleading data given to you by the shop floor staff. Metrics include worker utilization, machine utilization, inventory reach and turnaround, and order & cleanliness.
There are thousands of things to see during a plant tour. However, if you really want to know how good the plant is, there are a couple of tricks on what to watch during the tour. This post will give you a few quick but reliable metrics to estimate the performance of the plant.