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Standardized work is often perceived as a rigid series of “never to be changed” process steps. This misperception is likely why one of the most powerful lean tools is also the least used. Standardized work represents the current best practice, and lean practitioners recognize there is always an opportunity to improve.
There’s always a better way and more than one solution!
In some respects, standardized work is analogous to software. Programs or applications repeatedly execute a series of instructions. When applications fail to produce results consistent with expectations or crash altogether, we look for “bugs” in the code and revise the program.
The scope of an application is routinely subject to change when adding new features and capabilities. New and improved algorithms may substantially increase performance and reduce execution times. We often see a combination of “bug” fixes and new features when updated versions of the application are released.
Standardized work, like software, is a sequence of instructions or steps designed to yield a specific outcome, result, or product. When opportunities arise to improve the process, we change the instructions or steps and revise our standardized work combination table accordingly.
A standardized work combination table presents the sequence of steps or job elements and their respective execution times. The combination table identifies risks, possible constraints, potential bottlenecks and assures the operator can successfully perform and complete each step within the given time constraints.
The standardized work combination table serves to validate the current process and to identify opportunities to reduce cycle times using verifiable data in real-time.
Develop the Standardized Work Combination Table on the production floor where the work happens. This is one of the key takeaways I learned through many years of working with Toyota team members. This is also one reason we find many of the lean tools used at Toyota are completed by hand. While we are compelled to “digitize” our work, it truly begins with a pencil and paper.
Our purpose here is to present a “why” for using a standardized work combination table for your processes. The Lean Enterprise Institute presents more detailed information regarding the standardized work combination table, including a downloadable pdf document that includes an example and accompanying blank form.
Take the form to the shop floor to document the work elements, execution times, and steps required to complete the tasks at hand. This will form the baseline for your process from which you can evaluate task sequences and determine how to best distribute the work between the members of your production team.
Some websites offer memberships and, in exchange for a monthly or annual fee, provide access to various tools and templates to make things “easier” for you to manage. As tempting as they may be, I highly encourage you to begin using the simple form provided in the pdf download and follow the example provided.
As for the tools and templates, create forms, diagrams and charts using software tools you already have at your disposal. We used Excel to create a semi-automated Standardized Work Combination Table. You can download your copy of our “Standardized Work Combination Table.xlsm” as pictured below free of charge.
Our Excel template replicates the manual pdf format presented earlier. This worksheet calculates the Takt time for your process based on the annual volume, the number of machines, parts produced per machine cycle, shift schedule, and enhanced shift operating pattern. The timeline or “chart” automatically displays the timing and duration of each task or job element.
The worksheet is protected. However, the password is not set. If you want to change the template, click “Review” on the main tab and click the “unprotect” icon. You can edit the file and make changes to suit your requirements. The template provides the minimum functionality required to create a Standardized Work Combination Table.
The template supports a full or custom shift pattern to calculate the Takt time. The Template accommodates up to 50 job elements or process steps.
Remember, “There’s always a better way and more than one solution.”
The latest update to version 6.32.24 is not installing in the background and continues to propagate windows that have now become more than annoying. Ironically, this update is intended to fix a bug that sometimes prevented the update from smoothly.
After clicking the “Install now” button, another window appears as follows:
Checking the “Settings” inside the app indicates that NordVPN is updating.
Unfortunately, the installation doesn’t seem to ever finish. After a period of time, the “mess” pictured below appears on the screen. Press the Tab key to highlight the “Remind Me Later” option and again to highlight the Install now button.
Technically the installation should likely have been completed by now, but the Nord VPN settings window states “Update is available”.
The current release is now a nuisance! I sent a message to NordVPN to advise of the concern. They replied and advised that reinstalling the software is the best approach.
Go to the Nord VPN site and login to your account. Download the latest version for your operating system directly from the site and run the installer.
If NordVPN is running, the following window will appear to recommend allowing Setup to automatically close the applications that may prevent files from being updated.
After a short installation, the following window will appear on your screen.
If you choose not to install the free password manager NordPass, you can always download it from your account page where you’ll find other products including NordLocker – File encryption for desktop, and NordVPN Teams – VPN for business.
Click the finish button and the NordVPN will automatically launch. The application is now working as it should be.
While this post may be brief, it serves to exemplify my often stated phrase:
There’s always a better way and more than one solution.
I was perusing a Wikipedia article on the Fortran programming language and paid special attention to a short block of code to calculate the area of a triangle. The program was using a formula I didn’t recognize from my many years of learning!
The code makes reference to Heron’s Formula to calculate the area of a triangle where the lengths of all three sides are known. Searching Wikipedia brought me to Heron’s Formula page and the formula to calculate the area of a triangle as pictured below:
This formula does not look at all like the “Area = 1/2(base x height)” formula we learned in school.
Heron’s formula may not be an easier way or even a better way. It is perhaps, just another way! Personally, I prefer the method we used in school, but I’d be curious to know if there is a case to be made for using Heron’s formula instead.
Until Next Time – STAY lean!
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Although there is no correlation between a groundhog seeing its shadow and the arrival of Spring-like weather, groundhog day is a tradition celebrated by many in Canada and the United States. If the groundhog casts a shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; otherwise, Spring arrives early.
Perception is a matter of perspective. What we perceive and believe to be true directly influences our thoughts and behaviours. Whether the groundhog sees its shadow does not change the meteorological and officially recognized 1st day of Spring, which arrives when the sun moves across the celestial equator from south to north, a phenomenon also known as the Vernal Equinox.
This year, the first day of Spring is March 19, 2020, as this is a leap year. Otherwise, March 20 is the first day of Spring on non-leap years. We’ll believe it’s Spring when the weather aligns with our perception of what Spring is.
For others, Groundhog Day overshadows Candlemass, a Christian holy day recognized from the early 300’s AD and has deeper roots than any groundhog day celebration could ever have.
Some may have no idea what groundhogs are or never had the opportunity to see one. Others may simply recognize Groundhog Day as the name of the classic hit movie “Groundhog Day” (Columbia Pictures – February 12, 1993) with a great cast of characters including Andie MacDowell, Bill Murray, and Chris Elliot.
What does this have to do with lean thinking?
Meetings, events, training, seminars, charts and data may attempt to convince us that we are a lean company, but when we see and feel the difference, we’ll know its real and the true never-ending journey to lean begins.
Another takeaway is ensuring everyone is on the SAME page! Its not a movie, not a religious event, and definitely not a dream. Enjoy the journey.
What is your goal for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) in 2020? I suggest keeping it simple:
A continually increasing trend in OEE over time.
OEE can be an elusive metric unless you understand what it measures: Ideal Run Time vs Actual Run Time expressed as a percentage. The formula “Availability x Performance x Quality” categorically quantifies, expressed as a percentage, how OEE is affected by each factor.
Correctly calculating OEE is only the beginning. To continually improve OEE over time is where the journey truly begins. As the formula to calculate OEE suggests, it cannot be treated in isolation.
Micro Lean and OEE
Although OEE is not necessarily considered a “lean” metric, the opportunities for improvement may very well be. To improve OEE, identify opportunities where the most significant increases exist and focus on the sub-trends for Availability, Performance, and Quality.
An opportunity to improve exists for every factor that is not 100%. As suggested by our post “Micro Lean in 2020,” the devil is in the details. The culmination of many small improvements can compound to yield significant positive results.
In practice, Availability and Quality tend to be the primary areas of focus. TPM (Total Preventive Maintenance), SMED (single minute exchange of dies), Quick Tool Change, and Six-Sigma represent best practices serving as mechanisms for change to help address these issues in kind.
As new initiatives, these programs quickly address the significant issues. The challenge is to seek opportunities for improvements continually. When viewed through the lens of “single-piece flow,” the opportunities are endless.
More advanced tools such as Va/Ve (Value Analysis / Value Engineering) and QFD (Quality Function Deployment), DOE (Design of Experiments), and TRIZ may help to explore opportunities that are not immediately obvious to the untrained eye.
The key is to recognize the goal and keep it in focus. The fun begins when we accept the challenge to maintain a continually increasing trend in OEE over time.
Lean thinking affects all facets of an organization. Every person, activity, product, service, process, system, or method represent an opportunity for continuous improvement.
If the devil is in the details, then lean thinking extends to understanding and improving the “little things” we do every day, not just as teams, but as individuals too. Lean thinking embraced at a personal level can collectively bring significant change to the company as a whole.
Lean companies are not immune to complacency. If it is indeed a journey, the pursuit of perfection through the elimination of waste never ends. Unfortunately, significant improvement opportunities also fall victim to Pareto’s law as the “low hanging fruit” becomes harder to find.
Lean initiatives identify and address high dollar opportunities at the onset. As time passes, the motivation and interest to pursue the minor and few remaining opportunities begin to dwindle.
Lean thinking at the micro-level gives us cause to become aware of, and to review, the activities and habitual routines we perform every day. Many small steps can make for a much-improved workplace. “The Best Way To Measure Your Personal Brand Success,” by Pia Silva (Forbes contributor – August 1, 2018) also supports this manner of thinking.
The “little things” from a company perspective may represent “big things” from an individual perspective. We can make the company a better place when we make improvements to our workspace.
Micro-lean for 2020 may be the next best thing. As has been said many times before, “There’s always a better way and more than one solution.”
Programming is fun until … you hit a wall, and the solution seems out of reach. Rather than sit and wait for a solution to appear magically, it’s time to take a break.
A timeout may be the answer to finding the solution. If you’ve ever experienced that moment when the answer to a question suddenly pops into your mind when you weren’t even aware you were thinking about it, then you’ll understand the benefits of a much needed timeout.
The time between understanding the problem and discovering the inevitable solution is the incubation period – the timeout. The critical element here is a clear understanding of the problem. Then let your subconscious mind work on the problem for you while you change your focus.
The Zeigarnik Effect will serve to remind you of the unfinished business in due time. In the meanwhile, go for a walk or take a nap to clear your mind. When you return, a fresh eyes review may offer more than expected.
Java programming is not hard to learn, but proficiency in the language takes time, effort, and a lot of practice. JShell can significantly reduce the time required to learn many of the core features of the Java programming language.
As a prototyping tool, JShell makes it easy to write and develop a code snippet without having to compile and run a complete program to test it.
What is JShell?
Java 9 witnessed the introduction of JShell, and it persists with the latest releases. It is a read-evaluate-print-loop (REPL) tool that can be used to write and execute Java code, load code from a file, save code snippets, and more, all using a simple command-line interface.
Learning Java using JShell
Learning Java using JShell, by Christoph Tornau (Packt Publishing), is an excellent introduction to the Java programming language using JShell and is especially suited for beginners. While it does not cover all the formalities of writing a full Java application, it does cover the fundamentals of the language itself including:
Data types: int, byte, double, float, String, char, and boolean.
Variables: Declaring variables.
Operators: Using logical, conditional, compound assignment and unary operators.
If and If-Else statements
Switch expressions: Note that switch expressions are a preview feature and are disabled by default. Run JShell with “–enable-preview” to enable switch expressions.
Loops: While, Do-While, For, and ForEach
Classes and Objects
Using JShell to teach the fundamentals of Java is a smart approach taken by Christoph. It eliminates the distractions of having to choose from a variety of editors or IDE’s (Interactive Development Environment) and provides a simple “clutter-free” means to focus on Java alone.
The video course is ideally suited for beginning Java programmers and serves as a soft introduction to using JShell with Java.
Interestingly, Learning Java using JShell does not spend much time covering many of the JShell commands and key combinations that make using it that much more effective. What follows is a brief introduction to JShell. I have also included some helpful links to additional articles and resources at the end of this post.
Java Version 9 or Later
To run JShell, you must have JDK9 or later installed on your computer. You can get the latest version of the JDK for your operating system from Oracle’s “Java SE Downloads” page.
You can check the installed version of Java by typing “java -version” at the command prompt in a terminal session as pictured below:
To run JShell on windows, start a terminal session by typing “cmd” in the search bar and click on the “Command Prompt – app.”
When the command prompt appears, type “jshell” and press enter. Some Java language features, such as switch expressions, are available in preview mode only and disabled by default. They can be enabled by typing “jshell –enable-preview” at the command prompt as pictured below:
You can set the feedback mode using the “/set feedback mode” command where the mode is replaced by either “verbose,” “normal,” “concise,” or “silent.” For example: “/set feedback silent” displays the absolute minimum amount of information. You can also use the /set command to create customized feedback and prompt settings.
For help on a specific command or subject, type /help followed by the command or subject of interest to you. For example, when you enter “/help /list” at the jshell prompt, the requested help information appears on the screen as pictured below:
The JShell commands available in version 12 as displayed on our system are as follows:
rerun snippets by ID or ID range — see /help rerun
rerun n-th previous snippet — see /help rerun
To learn more about a given subject, enter one of the subjects from the list below after the /help command. For example: /help intro
intro: an introduction to the JShell tool.
keys: a description of line editing support to navigate and edit snippets and commands.
id: a description of snippet IDs and how to use them
shortcuts: a description of keystrokes for snippet and command completion, information access, and automatic code generation
context: description of the evaluation context options for /env /reload and /reset
rerun: a description of ways to re-evaluate previously entered snippets
The “jshell>” prompt doesn’t offer help unless you ask for it. There is more to this seemingly “archaic” interface than first meets the eye. and it is worth taking the time to look further.
Why use JShell?
As a developer, it is convenient to test a snippet of code without having to formally compile and run it to see if it’s going to work. Working with APIs can also be a challenge. and JShell is a perfect environment to learn more about them.
JShell is even integrated into the JetBrains IntelliJ IDE so you can reap all the benefits and productivity gains it has to offer and makes knowing what JShell is and what it can do for you even more relevant.
Some seasoned Java programmers are not aware that JShell even exists. I can only stress the importance of staying current with updates when they occur as they usually introduce new features and ways to make writing code that much more efficient.
As I’ve said many times before, “There’s always a better way and more than one solution.” Learning Java using JShell by Christoph Tornau is yet another example of that.
Until Next Time – STAY lean!
Related Articles and Resources
Learning Java using JShell (Video 3 hours, 5 minutes), by Christoph Tornau (Packt Publishing, published 11-Oct-2019). ISBN: 9781839212239.