Interesting Discussion Lean Manufacturing Concepts - Is 'Lean' hype?

Is 'Lean' hype?


  • Total voters
    61
  • Poll closed .
W

wmarhel

I recently watched with horror as management here implemented 6S and thousands of dollars worth of (hidden) stock was arbitrarily tossed in the trash. If you are implementing 6S or 5S please consult with the "owners" of that material and evaluate why they have it in the first place before you decimate the one thing that keeps it all working.

That person on the line that could always come up with a spare missing widget or piece of hardware could be the reason why you were as successful as you had been. Much better to leave it in place and catagorize it properly than to discard it carelessly. Even if it takes more time.

Either way thanks for a very interesting morning to all that have contributed here.:applause:
I think the problem here is in the application of 5S. There should always be a designated area where items can be logged into the area, and that can then be signed out within a specific timeframe by people who need them. It also allows for the ability to contact other divisions, potential buyers, etc.; and see if the items can't be used in some fashion, thereby precluding a purchase in the future. A common time for items to stay in the red tag area are 2-4 weeks, after that it may be time to throw them away. Of course, items that are clearly garbage are thrown away immediately.

One caveat, and I'm not disagreeing with you about the need to inquire with the people in the area, is that there is a tendency for people to claim they need it and that is why they have it in the first place. This is a perfect time to ask questions such as, "how often", "where is it used", "is it the proper tool", etc. I've seen people claim they needed to keep a broken screwdrive (the tip was broken) because they needed a pry bar. What they really needed was a small pry bar and using the screwdriver as such is what probably caused it to break in the first place.

If a tool is all covered with gobs of grease and dusty....chances are they don't use it except in extremely rare circumstances. The general attitude is often very possessive in that it is there junk and no one should touch it. Again, put it in the red tag area and see if there isn't a need for it somewhere.

Wayne
 
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B

Benjamin28

I have to agree with Wayne here, this is a problem in the "sort" phase of the 5S program.

In regard to the fella that has a widget always at the ready, I would prefer these kinds of issues came up into the open, if it makes for a stall in production then we're going to fix the process so that it can't happen again or make certain we can make a quick repair(parts in stock)...down the road it only means a better more consistent process, if we allow that devious widget replacer to continue we'll still have the same problems once he leaves or runs out of widgets, further the cost of said widgets can be built into the process if we know it's a necessary replacement part and should be kept in stock....so on and so forth.
 

try2makeit

Quite Involved in Discussions
I think the problem here is in the application of 5S. There should always be a designated area where items can be logged into the area, and that can then be signed out within a specific timeframe by people who need them. It also allows for the ability to contact other divisions, potential buyers, etc.; and see if the items can't be used in some fashion, thereby precluding a purchase in the future. A common time for items to stay in the red tag area are 2-4 weeks, after that it may be time to throw them away. Of course, items that are clearly garbage are thrown away immediately.

One caveat, and I'm not disagreeing with you about the need to inquire with the people in the area, is that there is a tendency for people to claim they need it and that is why they have it in the first place. This is a perfect time to ask questions such as, "how often", "where is it used", "is it the proper tool", etc. I've seen people claim they needed to keep a broken screwdrive (the tip was broken) because they needed a pry bar. What they really needed was a small pry bar and using the screwdriver as such is what probably caused it to break in the first place.

If a tool is all covered with gobs of grease and dusty....chances are they don't use it except in extremely rare circumstances. The general attitude is often very possessive in that it is there junk and no one should touch it. Again, put it in the red tag area and see if there isn't a need for it somewhere.

Wayne
When we had 5S implemented our "senior" production staff was "possessive" as you wrote Wayne. Try to pry something away from them, that they have gotten used too being there for 20 years, but actually only used it for the first 5 years. I also like to call it "hoarding", you know like a mouse that collects food and hoards it. It sure made for an interesting show, when our QM back then went back to this particular person a few days in a row to inquire about certain things in her area, and you could see her face just get that look like she was going to stomp his foot or worse. I believe it took him 4 days, before she gave up and was willing to "unhoard" her things.

Would the age be a factor too, when you decide to implement 5S? And shouldn't be the way you approach that certain age group be different?

On a side note, I had a babysitter in her mid 60's that collected every empty plastic bag, bread bag, piece of foil wrapping or plastic wrapping at my house when she babysat my kids. I told her a many of times not to do that, but it didn't do me any good. And when I tossed the box out one day, oh my...she didn't talk to me for a week. So I decided to just let her collect it , and then send the box home with her ever so often. I did sneak into the box a few times to use one of the saved bags, and she could tell, but never said anything. So I guess it worked out for the both of us.:D
 

ngkjrs

Learner Always
LEAN can be started from 1S activities. Elimination of waste starts from sorting. Integration of LEAN with Six Sigma can yield you good results. However, those work in the firm should follow the GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) attitude.

They should be open minded to welcome LEAN as a science or process of manufacturing.

Variations lead to Waste. Minimize variation, eliminate waste. Integrate Six Sigma with LEAN. Good Luck and Good Efforts!
 
P

processanalyzer

I was working with a small manufacturing company where the owners were the management. Needless to say they ran the business like dinosaurs and were not willing to look at defects as a loss since they were positive in their cash flow. Needless to say if your management is butting heads with you there really is no hope. Your war stories are true stories that actually happen quite often. There is a long laundry list of causes of these wars. Below are a few of the key factors to consider before obtaining training or becoming a Lean/Six-Sigma practitioner.

a. You should be a highly motivated process oriented resource with good communication and team building skills.

b. You should get involved because you want to help improve your company not because you are seeking credentials that promote your personal agenda. Job growth will come as a result but should not be the focus.

c. As a Manager you should have a minimum of 10 hours per week of disposable time to apply towards a process improvement project. Black Belts should be at least 20 hours per week (Full time is preferred).

d. Your company's leadership should be prepared to help select projects for you that have the highest business impact with the lowest risk of project failure. The leadership should also be available to help support the projects. This includes providing the necessary time for the team members to help drive the project as well as removing obstacles that may inhibit the team from being effective.

e. Another large component is the training / project mentoring aspect of the infrastructure. Do not search for the best training by focusing entirely on price. This is a complex methodology and requires a solid trainer to student transfer of knowledge. Many people settle for e-training because it is less expensive and more convenient. There are other low cost solutions that do not sacrifice training quality. In addition to the training make sure you have an available mentor that can help you manage all your newly acquired Lean/Six-Sigma knowledge. I use a new mentoring management software system with project tracker which provides continual training that is a priceless solution to driving any Lean/ Six Sigma project. An internal system puts the Management, Black belts, and Green belts in the same format making it managable with less complexity. I would be happy to share that with you if permissable with T.O.U. here.

There are other factors, however following the rules above you will be in good shape to get your company the improvements they are looking for. If you have other concerns or questions feel free to contact me via email. Hope this helps.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
I was working with a small manufacturing company where the owners were the management. Needless to say they ran the business like dinosaurs and were not willing to look at defects as a loss since they were positive in their cash flow. Needless to say if your management is butting heads with you there really is no hope. Your war stories are true stories that actually happen quite often. There is a long laundry list of causes of these wars. Below are a few of the key factors to consider before obtaining training or becoming a Lean/Six-Sigma practitioner.

a. You should be a highly motivated process oriented resource with good communication and team building skills.

b. You should get involved because you want to help improve your company not because you are seeking credentials that promote your personal agenda. Job growth will come as a result but should not be the focus.

c. As a Manager you should have a minimum of 10 hours per week of disposable time to apply towards a process improvement project. Black Belts should be at least 20 hours per week (Full time is preferred).

d. Your company's leadership should be prepared to help select projects for you that have the highest business impact with the lowest risk of project failure. The leadership should also be available to help support the projects. This includes providing the necessary time for the team members to help drive the project as well as removing obstacles that may inhibit the team from being effective.

e. Another large component is the training / project mentoring aspect of the infrastructure. Do not search for the best training by focusing entirely on price. This is a complex methodology and requires a solid trainer to student transfer of knowledge. Many people settle for e-training because it is less expensive and more convenient. There are other low cost solutions that do not sacrifice training quality. In addition to the training make sure you have an available mentor that can help you manage all your newly acquired Lean/Six-Sigma knowledge. I use a new mentoring management software system with project tracker which provides continual training that is a priceless solution to driving any Lean/ Six Sigma project. An internal system puts the Management, Black belts, and Green belts in the same format making it managable with less complexity. I would be happy to share that with you if permissable with T.O.U. here.

There are other factors, however following the rules above you will be in good shape to get your company the improvements they are looking for. If you have other concerns or questions feel free to contact me via email. Hope this helps.
Welcome to the Cove!:bigwave:

We would welcome an arrangement where you might share this software with our Cove members. I have one caveat for you to consider:
Is this software proprietary to your company or to someone else's company to the point you would be giving away either your own company trade secrets or another company's product which they offer for sale? The last thing we want is for a Cove member to endanger his job in an effort to be helpful to the rest of us..

If you have some question about whether what you have to offer falls into either category, please pm (private message) me with details and I will help you. (Left click my name at the top of this post to get a dialog box with the option of sending a private message.)
 
W

WesCharley

Although the concepts of lean are not difficult, it is by no means common sense. As an internal consultant for Eastman Kodak and now an independant consultant for Total Lean Soultions, I can tell you for a fact that the concepts of leveling production and single peice flow are not understood or "common" for 99.9% of US businesses. Common business practices are to produce in large lots of type A and then to switch to large batches of type b so change overs can be limited allowing for higher OEE (overall equipment effectiveness). What common sense tells us is that if we can keep the machines running at full speed for as long as we can I am being "efficient". What lean tells you is that if I am making more than the customer needs, I am spending money on materials, warehousing, shipping, workers, etc that I don't need to spend. I understand people's assumtion that lean is common sense however, I would guess that anybody with that view point has not had the fundamentals of lean explained to them, or the fundamentals were expalined by someone who didn't do it right. The botom line is that lean is a structured approach to continuous improvement that uses data to drive all of the improvements. As for the original post about where to start with lean, you really need to get someone in who knows lean and can explain it to your leadership. Although you can implement improvements to capture the "low hanging friut", if leadership does not understand their role in the improvement it will not be sustainable, meaning it will probably revert back to the "old way". the right place to start is to educate your manager and employees, get agreement that it is the right solution and then start building the foundation (building a stable process through 5S, eliminating the visible waste and creating flow where possible). As for if I think lean is valuable, absolutely. As a lean consultant and six sigma black belt, I would choose lean as the first tool to solve my problem everytime.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
Although the concepts of lean are not difficult, it is by no means common sense. As an internal consultant for Eastman Kodak and now an independant consultant for Total Lean Soultions, I can tell you for a fact that the concepts of leveling production and single peice flow are not understood or "common" for 99.9% of US businesses.
Welcome to the Cove!:bigwave:I appreciate your enthusiasm for being a Lean consultant, but I fear you overstate the case when you state "for a fact" concepts of leveling production and single peice flow are not understood or "common" for 99.9% of US businesses.

One of the mindsets we frequently face in the Quality Profession is the idea that one anecdote, richly larded with hyperbole, trumps "factual documentation." Most folks want to believe the Shaman can come in, wave a bundle of feathers and provide a magical elixir which will cure all ills.

In reality, situations are rarely black & white, but more often a muddy gray, especially blurred around the edges. My experience over forty years actually is the opposite of yours, to the extent I have found many, many producers who do sit down and go through a detailed risk analysis of how much product to manufacture and store, pending sale and delivery to a customer. They take into account such things as
  • possible obsolescence
  • shelf life
  • customer whims
  • macro economics of a region, country, world
  • cost of storage versus profit
  • ability to serve a wider range of customers with shorter product runs

plus many other factors.

Far from operating in a vacuum [waiting for the superhuman consultant to come along and bestow a miracle], owners and managers of producing companies are continually assailed by sales people, advertising, trade and association magazines and conferences, as well as the influx of new hires who (contrary to what some minority gripers may whine) all provide hints, clues, and even some hard data about the efficiency and resultant profit to be had from some of the simple "low hanging fruit" that Lean implementations grab and use. Often, these little gains DO provide the incentive to look for more on a systematic basis.

Even though I AM a consultant and one of the charter members of the Lean Division of ASQ, even I am not so arrogant to believe a determined manager (fired by an inkling of understanding gleaned from magazine articles and machine sales people touting the wonders of short run, quick changeover production machines) can NOT do almost as good a job as I in leading his company to a Lean operation, even though he may go up a few more blind alleys which I might avoid because of my experience.

I don't think we'll find a lot of folks (certainly not 90%) who will plead ignorance of the basic premises of Lean, even though they may not connect the arbitrary term "Lean" with "quick turnover" of inventory or with "meet, not exceed, customer demand."

Above all, we, as consultants, must continually be wary, lest we act like my five-year-old grandson who thinks that just because he has a hammer, everything in sight is a nail to be pounded.
 
W

WesCharley

Wes,

Perhaps you misunderstand my point. The example I used about level production and single peice flow is just an example however, I will reiterate my statment of "fact" because this is the experience I have seen while consulting. What I was trying to get across is that the lean process is counter intuative to the way traditional companies do business. For instance, almost all of the companies I have worked with were in the rut of only trying to improve their value added processes. In addition most only focus on the waste from defects and have not even opened their eyes to transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over processing, overproduction muri or mura.
What I have seen as a consultatn is that most companies do not understand the concept of the tortoise and the hare, or stoping to go faster. They are very good at containing a quality or production problem when it pops up but they rarely follow through to understand the root cause and implement an actual contermeasure to the problem.
Perhaps I struck a nerve since it seems as if you may have been tossing out comparison of me to a 5 year old with a hammer. If this is the case I applogize. I was not trying to step on any toes however, I will refute the statement that things are rarely black and white because in my opinion they are. You are either applying the principles or you are not. You either understand the big picture or you don't. You either apply the tools or you find a reason to say they won't work for your particular problem. I say this with 100% confidence because this is the way it was taught to me by Mr. Hara and Mr. Ohba, both of whom are direct descendants from Taiichi Ohno and Toyota. There is absolutely no cookie cutter technique that will work for every problem, but the principels, tools and their applications are black and white.
As for your comment about a manager being able to apply lean effectivley without a consultant I agree. However, I think that unless that manager has had extensive hands on training from someone who has taught them the black and white, rather than the shades of gray approach, they will most likely get stuck in a rut and be left asking why did we fail or where should I start. Lean is not someting that you can apply because you have read a book or taken a 2 day class. the only way to truley understand lean is to get your hands dirty and do it. The more hands on doing, the more you learn. The more you learn you soon understand how much you do not know. The people who can make that connection are the people that understand lean.
I truley beleive in the application of lean. Not because it is my job, but because I have seen first hand how it can takes companies from average to world class. I have seen how it can turn employees that hate coming to work into champions that are there to support and build the business. I spend countless hours teaching the concpets and applications to local small businesses at no cost because I unerstand how important that competative advatage can be to a company that does not have the capital to compete with the growing global economy. So as a 5 year old with a hammer, I will leave it at that, hopefully I have not knocked in any nails that belong to the other 5 year olds in the class. I would hate for them to be upset.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
Wes,

Perhaps you misunderstand my point. The example I used about level production and single peice flow is just an example however, I will reiterate my statment of "fact" because this is the experience I have seen while consulting. What I was trying to get across is that the lean process is counter intuative to the way traditional companies do business. For instance, almost all of the companies I have worked with were in the rut of only trying to improve their value added processes. In addition most only focus on the waste from defects and have not even opened their eyes to transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over processing, overproduction muri or mura.
What I have seen as a consultatn is that most companies do not understand the concept of the tortoise and the hare, or stoping to go faster. They are very good at containing a quality or production problem when it pops up but they rarely follow through to understand the root cause and implement an actual contermeasure to the problem.
Perhaps I struck a nerve since it seems as if you may have been tossing out comparison of me to a 5 year old with a hammer. If this is the case I applogize. I was not trying to step on any toes however, I will refute the statement that things are rarely black and white because in my opinion they are. You are either applying the principles or you are not. You either understand the big picture or you don't. You either apply the tools or you find a reason to say they won't work for your particular problem. I say this with 100% confidence because this is the way it was taught to me by Mr. Hara and Mr. Ohba, both of whom are direct descendants from Taiichi Ohno and Toyota. There is absolutely no cookie cutter technique that will work for every problem, but the principels, tools and their applications are black and white.
As for your comment about a manager being able to apply lean effectivley without a consultant I agree. However, I think that unless that manager has had extensive hands on training from someone who has taught them the black and white, rather than the shades of gray approach, they will most likely get stuck in a rut and be left asking why did we fail or where should I start. Lean is not someting that you can apply because you have read a book or taken a 2 day class. the only way to truley understand lean is to get your hands dirty and do it. The more hands on doing, the more you learn. The more you learn you soon understand how much you do not know. The people who can make that connection are the people that understand lean.
I truley beleive in the application of lean. Not because it is my job, but because I have seen first hand how it can takes companies from average to world class. I have seen how it can turn employees that hate coming to work into champions that are there to support and build the business. I spend countless hours teaching the concpets and applications to local small businesses at no cost because I unerstand how important that competative advatage can be to a company that does not have the capital to compete with the growing global economy. So as a 5 year old with a hammer, I will leave it at that, hopefully I have not knocked in any nails that belong to the other 5 year olds in the class. I would hate for them to be upset.
When you make a statement like this:
I will reiterate my statment of "fact" because this is the experience I have seen while consulting.
please consider the FACT the companies you see in a consulting business like yours ARE dysfunctional and realize it or they would never have called in a consultant in the first place.

I, on the other hand, have seen both functional and dysfunctional businesses because I am not only considering enumerating ONLY the troubled ones which seek consultant help, but the functional ones which are customers and suppliers and prospective customers and suppliers of those dysfunctional companies. My position remains: You are in error about the number or percentage of dysfunctional companies.

On a side note: do you tell the 10% functional ones they don't need your consulting service even if they ask for it?
 
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