A Ray of Sunshine in the Muck and Mire

Often on continuous improvement journeys, we come across big hairy monsters of slime, inefficiencies, and muck. If you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet you’re one with the ability to see through all the waste in your processes to what the process should be. You have that gift of seeing the ideal state. You can see that ray of beautiful sunshine when your process is screaming fast and delivering exactly what’s needed. You’re the athlete in a crowd of pudge. (more…)

Five Ways to Discover Hidden Problems

Ten years ago, I worked with a manufacturing department that was beginning their Lean Journey and it was standard practice for them to produce 10% over the customer order quantity in case there were problems in the downstream operations. In many cases, this extra 10% was still not enough to cover the order after defective product was removed from the lot. Another production run then had to be started to fulfill the customer order quantity. These additional runs not only caused delays to the shipment, but it ultimately increased the cost to the customer: There were additional equipment setups, lot-release inspections, scrap product, inventory management time, packaging time, certification paperwork, etc. (more…)

A New Tool for your Product Family Matrix

The elimination of waste in a Lean Journey is often stagnated when manufacturing is organized in a “functional” layout.  By having equipment and operations organized into similar functions, improvement often plateaus.  The personnel working in a functional area are often isolated or at least disconnected from other up- and down-stream operations.  For this reason, they naturally focus their improvement efforts to their respective areas.  But this ultimately limits the significant improvements possible in a value stream. (more…)