Category: Advanced Lean Manufacturing

Advanced Techniques are essentially enhancements or improvements to the existing fundamental process or system.

Timeouts and Incubation Periods

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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.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

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On the cutting edge of software

Updating software applications is a routine maintenance practice that many choose to ignore. While many of my applications are set to update automatically, I want to be sure they are current.

I prefer to update my core software packages manually and with good reason. Some updates can be “buggy” and blindly upgrading could shut an application or system down. Code that worked in one version may now refer to deprecated functions or features.

Integrated Development Environments or IDE’s and programming languages continue to evolve. Incorporating and taking advantage of new features and capabilities can make writing code that much more effective and efficient.

I use the suite of IDE’s by JetBrains and appreciate the value my subscription brings to make code that much easier to write and manage. Integrated version control is certainly one of the features that I have learned to depend on over the years.

Performing regular updates also makes it easier to keep up with changes as they occur as opposed to learning them in one sitting several releases later. There is always a risk to being on the cutting – or bleeding – edge of technology, but the rewards may be even greater.

Until Next Time, STAY lean!

Microsoft Excel 2019 VBA and Macros

I received my paperback copy of Microsoft Excel 2019 VBA and Macros, by Bill Jelen and Tracy Syrstad, on December 31, 2018. I finally managed to work my way through it cover to cover and highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn how to be more productive with Excel using VBA.

This book presents a wide range of topics where you will learn how to take advantage of VBA and the new features available in Excel 2019. With the assumption that you already know how to use Excel, this book helps you to understand and take advantage of the many capabilities and features of VBA itself to enhance your experience as a user and to create effective and efficient applications.

If you want to increase your productivity with Excel 2019, then I highly recommend getting your copy of Microsoft Excel 2019 VBA and Macros. This is another welcome addition to our growing library of Excel books.

  • ISBN-13: 978-1-5093-0611-4
  • ISBN-10: 1-5093-0611-0
  • Pages: 585

Accompanying Excel workbooks with code, data sets, and bonus macros are available online for download.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

JIRA Development Cookbook – Third Edition

JIRA Development Cookbook – Third Edition by Jobin Kuruvilla, September 2016, 598 pages. This book is available from Amazon in Paperback and Kindle Edition.

  • ISBN-13: 978-1785885617
  • ISBN-10: 1785885618

Delving into JIRA requires a minimum $10.00 per month expense per user after a free 7 day trial. The question is, does the expense justify the return?

We shall soon find out.

The Logitech CRAFT Keyboard is by far the best keyboard to grace my desktop. Protect your investment with the Hard Travel Case by co2CREA

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Karakuri is Lean

Karakuri is a mechanism that uses gravity, springs, and gears instead of external power sources to manipulate objects as a means to “save energy”, and is a key element of Kaizen that when put into practice, can translate into significant productivity and efficiency gains including:

  1. Eliminate overwork
  2. Eliminate waste
  3. Eliminate uneven workflow
  4. Improve safety
  5. Improve quality
  6. Improve productivity
  7. Improve maintenance

Karakuri is also a tradition innate to Toyota’s culture since its inception and the practice extends to companies throughout Japan. It is interesting to see the tools that can provide a significant benefit to your operations without the necessity of adding overhead beyond the initial investment and routine maintenance that may be required.

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

Archimedes

Eliminating or at least minimizing the need for external energy sources results in a net reduction of operating expenses. A gravity flow rack is certainly one of the more primitive and obvious examples of Karakuri as demonstrated by this video of an AMS MRS Rack Storage. Check out the video in the “Related Articles and Resources” below to see how Karakuri can help to simplify and improve your operations.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Versalytics

Related Articles and Resources:

Lean – Have it Your Way

It’s easy to determine whether the leadership of a company truly embraces lean thinking.  One of the more frustrating “tells” is the insistence of leadership to precisely follow the path others have taken.

The underlying notion of achieving the same or similar results may be appealing but it does not address why the specific path or methodology was chosen by a given company to begin with.  Many automotive companies have learned that lean is not a simple matter of copying and duplicating the practices of a company like Toyota.

If lean is indeed a journey, it is only fair to say that any competitor or other company you have chosen as a model to follow is still in the pursuit of perfection to achieve the ever elusive ideal state.  Since we don’t or can’t possibly know what their ideal state could possibly look like, implementing the best practices of other companies is merely nothing more than a starting point.

To be a “copy-cat” or “me too” company does little to differentiate you from the competition.  What advantage or benefit will the customer realize if you are just like all the others?

The tools of lean and six sigma are not the concern here.  Rather, the concern extends to the very systems and processes of the organization and business itself.  It is the underlying thinking that forms the foundation on which the organif the underlying thinking and assumptions

Innovation is Lean Thinking by Design

Differentiation is a trait best demonstrated by a company like Logitech.  While some companies simply attempt to make products faster and cheaper, Logitech’s appeal is to offer something more in the product itself.

Consider Logitech’s recently introduced flow technology where a single keyboard and mouse combination can seamlessly switch between two computers as though they were one.  Spending a little more money on a premium or advanced product offering is still cheaper than having to buy three of each and also offers the benefit of having more available desk space.

As another example, Logitech recently released the MX Vertical Mouse, an ergonomically designed mouse that improves performance, productivity and reduces the risk of injury that may occur due to prolonged use of the device.  Although the design changes are only slightly radical, they demonstrate the never-ending cycle of continuous improvement.

Systems, methods, processes, and procedures are present in every facet of an organization or business.  Consider how lean thinking can be applied to increase their effectiveness, improve performance, and ultimately eliminate waste.

As I’ve said before, “What you see is how we think.”  I contend that Lean thinking is best demonstrated by what differentiates your company from the competition.  The greatest value may be found in those elements that defy logic and the small things that set you apart to position your company ahead of the curve.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!Versalytics

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Lean Is NOT A Legacy

Lean can be summarily defined as “The pursuit of perfection (value) through the relentless elimination of waste.”  Understanding what this actually looks like in the real world is an entirely different matter.

The 8 wastes (technically 7) and the tools to continually strive to eliminate them are well documented.  Why is it then that companies still find themselves struggling to implement lean thinking into their culture?

Any lean initiative requires mutual trust and respect between members of the team, the leadership, and stakeholders.  Many companies follow traditional management methods that are contrary to the servant-leadership style required to foster an environment that provides:

  1. Time to Learn – at all levels
  2. Permission to Think
  3. Authority to Execute
  4. Permission to Fail
  5. Time to Reflect
  6. Time to Share (Lesson Learned / Successes Earned)

To continually improve is to recognize that successes and failures are synonymous with learning.  Understanding what works and how it can be improved is equally as important as what doesn’t.

Some leaders and managers claim they do not have the resources that are available to larger corporations.  I would argue that this is simply an excuse for failing to engage their employees in the process.  In essence, they simply don’t perceive their employees as partners in the improvement process or trust that their employees are capable of making a difference.

All the tools in the world won’t save your business if the very people who are expected to use them can’t be trusted to do so.  A servant-leader can teach them “why” and show them “how”.  When done correctly, a short time will pass and the “student” employee will tell  them why and show them how – only better.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

Versalytics

Related Articles and Resources

  • The 8 Deadly Wastes – https://www.processexcellencenetwork.com/business-transformation/articles/the-8-deadly-lean-wastes-downtime
  • What is lean? – https://www.lean.org/WhatsLean/

Lean Code and the Intel Distribution for Python Performance

Python is one of my favourite languages for prototyping and developing applications.  Unfortunately, as an interpreted language, Python’s performance is of great concern when running an application at scale in a production environment.  Developers will typically resort to using languages like C or C++ that can be compiled into a high performance application for this very reason.

Fortunately, as I’ve stated many times before, “There’s always a better way and more than one solution!”  Although you can download the latest version of Python directly from the Python.org website, other distributions are available.  I use the Anaconda Python distribution as it is both comprehensive and easy to manage using Conda or Anaconda Navigator.

To overcome some of Python’s performance shortfalls you can “Supercharge applications and speed up core computational packages” with the INTEL Distribution for Python, powered by Anaconda.  The Intel Distribution for Python is intended to address performance constraints that would otherwise inhibit you from using your application in a production environment at scale.

This Anaconda & Intel Python Distribution FAQ presents the differences and performance gains.  Note that both distributions are available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

Install Anaconda3

Anaconda3 5.2.0 (64-bit) SetupDownload and install the latest version of the Anaconda Python Distribution (5.2.0 as of this writing).  The installation wizard will guide you through the installation process, allowing you to install for “Just Me” or “All Users” and will prompt you choose an install location.  In most cases, the default settings will suffice.

Anaconda3 5.2.0 (64-bit) Choose Install LocationWhen the installation is complete, you will be presented with an option to download Visual Studio Code.  Although I’m using PyCharm by JetBrains, Visual Studio Code is an excellent editor that I find myself using from time to time.  Anaconda’s Spyder is also an excellent IDE and is part of the Anaconda installation.

Note:  You will be asked to sign up for an Anaconda Cloud account.  This will enable you to manage and distribute your packages and upload and download your environments, notebooks, and projects Anaconda Cloud.

Install the Intel Distribution for Python

After you have successfully installed Anaconda on your machine, follow these step by step  instructions to take advantage of the Intel Distribution for Python in your production environment.  I highly recommend reading the instructions BEFORE proceeding with the step by step instructions provided as several installation options are presented and may vary depending on your operating system.  Note that you may elect to install either the core or full Intel Distribution for Python depending on your requirements and versions are available for both Python 2 and Python 3.

Anaconda Prompt From Windows Start MenuOn Windows 10, go to the start menu and scroll down to find the “Anaconda3” application.  From the drop down, click the “Anaconda Prompt”.  This will open a terminal window from which you can enter the applicable “conda” commands referenced in the “Intel Distribution for Python” installation instructions.

We opted to install the full Intel Distribution for Python, although the core Intel Distribution for Python may serve your immediate needs.  Since the Intel Distribution for Python is powered by Anaconda, you can easily manage your Python packages and environments accordingly.

Note that the Full Intel Distribution for Python is quite large and will take some time to download depending on the speed of your internet connection.

Having the ability to significantly increase the performance of your application by using Intel’s Distribution for Python is definitely far more productive, effective, and efficient than having to rewrite your application in another language for the sake of performance alone.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!
Versalytics

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The Dunning-Kruger Effect

 

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Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

Have you ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect?  I stumbled across this term while reading 8 Unexpected Signs You’re Smarter Than Average by Jessica Stillman (Contributor Inc.com).

The Dunning-Kruger effect, according to Wikipedia, is best described by the first two paragraphs and paraphrased in context as follows:

The Dunning Kruger effect is a cognitive bias where people of low ability people assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is and do not recognize their low-ability.  Low ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

High ability people may incorrectly assume that tasks easy for them to do are also easy for other people to do, or that other people will have similar understanding of subjects that they themselves are experienced in.

~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

Why is this relevant?

Assessing our own abilities or the abilities of others will directly influence our own ability to learn or teach.  Regardless of whether we are teaching or learning, we must first have the ability to recognize that a gap exists.

How many times have you encountered someone who thinks they have all the answers?  Where a knowledge or skill gap exists, a person with this mind set is likely not going to be very teachable.  How engaged will this person be when they think they know all there is to know?

On the other hand, it is as important for the person teaching or speaking to know their audience.  Assuming a certain level of prerequisite knowledge or a given skill set may impede your ability to teach those who are there to learn.

Exposing the Gap

Recognizing the Dunning-Kruger effect gives cause to reflect on the four stages of competence:

  • Unconscious incompetence – unaware, lacks knowledge or skill
  • Conscious incompetence – aware, lacks knowledge or skill
  • Conscious competence – aware, has knowledge or skill with conscious effort
  • Unconscious competence – aware, knowledge or skill is second nature / autonomous

People and organizations are generally not open to criticism, constructive or otherwise.  In this regard, assessing an individual or organization can be quite challenging.  Asking questions that emphasize and expose potential gaps and deficits where a clear and defined value can be found is sure to raise awareness and peak the interest of most.

A Final Thought

As cited from 8 Unexpected Signs You’re Smarter Than Average (# 8),

A study of nearly 10,000 Americans found that natural blonds actually have IQs slightly higher than their darker haired compatriots.

Perception is a matter of perspective.  As a natural blonde, the above was encouraging until I read, “The difference was too small to be statistically significant.”

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

Versalytics

Related Articles and Resources

8 Unexpected Signs You’re Smarter Than Average – Jessica Stillman (Contributor Inc.com)

Dunning-Kruger effect – Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect)

Four Stages of Competence – Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence)

Lean Code and Productivity

Writing code can be a very time-consuming process and finding ways to be more productive is typically welcomed by professional programmers.  While many new programmers are anxious to learn their language of choice, few spend any time learning about the Interactive Development Environment or IDE they are using to write their code.

Programmers can increase productivity by taking advantage of the many keyboard shortcuts that are built into their IDE or editor of choice.  Many IDE’s are designed to work on any platform and makes learning them that much more valuable.  In this context, choosing the right IDE can be just as important to your productivity as knowing the language itself.

A short list of the primary IDE’s I use includes:

  • IntelliJ IDEA HelloWorldMicrosoft:  Visual Studio 2017 (C, C#, C++),
  • ActiveState:  Komodo IDE (TCL/Tk),
  • JetBrains:
    • CLion (C++),
    • PyCharm Professional (Python),
    • IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate (Java),
    • PhpStorm (PHP),
    • RubyMine (Ruby),
  • NetBeans IDE:  NetBeans (Java).

Most of you reading this are likely familiar with the more common key combinations such as <Ctrl>+<s> to save a file, <Ctrl>+<c> to copy highlighted text, or <Ctrl>+<v> to paste text.  Many IDE providers have developed key combinations that provide much more functionality than typically offered by primitive text editors.  Extended features may range from basic editing and code navigation to code selection, code completion, code generation, code refactoring, and so much more.

IntelliJ IDEA SecretsVisual Studio 2017 (Microsoft), Komodo IDE (ActiveState), IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate and PyCharm (JetBrains) are just a few examples of IDE’s where key combinations exist to perform a wide variety of tasks.  Also knowing certain shortcuts that can be used while entering code can save a significant amount of time.

A premium IDE is well worth the investment in both money and the time required to learn it.  Extending IDE functionality to include automated code generation, code formatting, import optimization, and support for version control systems are just some of the reasons for using a premium IDE.

Once you discover the key combinations that are available to you, remembering them will be the next challenge.  Practice makes perfect and the more often you use them, the more likely it is that you will remember them.

CLionMenuDropDownIf you’re accustomed to working with your mouse when navigating the menu options inside your IDE, make note of the keyboard shortcut that may appear next to the menu option you are using as pictured in this CLion IDE drop-down menu.  If not this time, perhaps it may be worth trying the next time you find yourself reaching for the mouse to perform a task.

Aside from attempting to remember everything you read in the documentation, you can also perform a simple Google Search for “Cheat Sheets” on the language of your choice.  You will quickly discover that you are not alone when it comes to memorizing keyboard shortcuts and you will be presented with a vast array of options that are best suited for you and your specific IDE.

Increase your productivity and take advantage of all the power at your fingertips.  You will save yourself a tremendous amount of time and effort writing your code and developing your application.  By learning all there is to know about your IDE of choice, you may surprise yourself to see how much time you can save using a simple key combination that you never knew existed.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

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