Category: Lean

Standardized Work Combination Table

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!

Redge@Versalytics.com

The following image from the Lean Enterprise Institute at lean.org presents a Standardized Work Combination Table. An example of a Standardized Work Combination Table and the accompanying blank document is available for download from the Lean Enterprise Institute website. You can also download a copy of our Standardized Work Combination Table Excel Template.

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.

Download Standardized Workflow Combination Table.xlsm

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.”

Until Next Time, STAY lean!

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The Goal for OEE in 2020

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.

Read “How to Calculate OEE – The Real OEE Formula With Examples” for a thorough introduction and explanation to calculate OEE correctly.

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.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Related Articles and Resoures

How To Calculate OEE – The Real OEE Formula with Examples, Versalytics.org

Calculate OEE > A list of articles here on Versalytics.org

Micro Lean in 2020

Lean thinking affects all facets of an organization. Every person, activity, product, service, process, system, or method represent an opportunity for continuous improvement.

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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.”

Until Next Time – Stay Lean!

Versalytics

Related Articles and Resources

The Best Way To Measure Your Personal Brand Success by Pia Silva (Forbes contributor – August 1, 2018).

Lean Programming – 5S for Code

I enjoy coding and learned many programming languages over the years. As diverse as these languages are, there is one trait that is consistent among them all: every instruction matters.

The principles of Lean, defined as “the pursuit of perfection to achieve excellence through the continual elimination of waste,” can also be applied to programming. The seven forms of waste are:

  • Defects: Bugs in our Code. Avoid using clever tricks or complicated code where a simple statement or expression is just as effective.
  • Overproduction: Features or functions that are not required,
  • Waiting: Synchronous versus asynchronous processes, load times, code sequencing, multi-core threading, distributed networking,
  • Inventory: Redundant Code,
  • Motion: Inefficient algorithms, poorly designed UI,
  • Over-processing: Unnecessary functions or capabilities. Deliver the solution requested per the scope of the application, no more, no less.
  • Transport: Movement of resources or data. Consider in memory processes versus disk intensive transactions, or client side versus server side data processing.

There is a notable difference between “sloppy programming” and clean code written by someone who knows better. Have you ever spent hours attempting to decipher someone’s code, or even your own? A clean, readable, and well documented file is much easier to work with and, more importantly, understandable.

5S Your Code

We can minimize some forms of waste by using a method known as 5S. IDE’s such as those offered by JetBrains, allow us to create a workspace for a given application, but we can extend this concept to each file or script too.

  1. Sort (Seiri): Eliminate all unnecessary tools, functions, comments, and resources. Choose meaningful file and variable names to minimize tedious and redundant comments in your Code.
  2. Set in Order (Seiton): Use an effective directory management strategy to organize all your files for quick and easy reference. Deploy an effective “Model, View, Controller” strategy when developing your applications. Restrict your functions to a single purpose to better enable re-usability.
  3. Shine (Seiso): Set and follow standardized coding guidelines and naming conventions. Deploy rigorous version control standards.
  4. Standardize (Seiketsu): Publish coding guidelines and maintain your Code accordingly.
  5. Sustain (Shitsuke): Cascade requirements and communicate expectations throughout the organization. Continually review and update the guidelines accordingly.

5S is one of the fundamental elements of Kaizen and, when practiced regularly, helps to minimize the seven wastes, allowing you to work effectively and efficiently.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Related Articles and Resources

What is 5S? – kanbanize.com

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

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Simply the best – Logitech’s Craft Keyboard

Craft Keyboard BoxI pre-ordered Logitech’s Craft Keyboard several weeks ago and it just arrived – a week earlier than expected!  The Craft Keyboard is compatible with Logitech’s FLOW technology and is a perfect companion to my MX Master 2S mouse.

I use computers extensively in my line of work and I’m always looking for the ultimate keyboard experience.  I was also looking for a single solution that would allow me to work on more than one machine using the same keyboard and mouse.

Logitech’s Craft keyboard coupled with the MX Master 2S mouse and Logitech’s FLOW software technology is the answer to that quest.  I can now work seamlessly between my SurfaceBook Pro and MacBook Pro machines all while using the same keyboard and mouse.  The keys on the Craft keyboard are labeled for both PC and MAC machines.

IMG_4564The top left dial, referred to as the CROWN, is one of the unique features of the Craft keyboard.  The CROWN presents either a smooth or ratchet style feel when turned depending on the current context of the application.

The touch sensitive CROWN integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office, Adobe, and other applications.  Even browsing the web is a slightly enhanced experience.  You can perform context specific tasks from within an application by simply tapping, pressing and / or turning the CROWN.

As a premium keyboard, my expectations were high and for the most part, Logitech has delivered .  The Craft keyboard provides the best typing experience of any keyboard I have literally had the opportunity to lay my hands on.  The backlit keys are very quiet, highly responsive, and require minimal travel and effort to actuate.  The tops of the keys are slightly concave and your fingers naturally settle into them.

F6-F7 Backlight BrightnessThe backlit keys turn on immediately as your hands approach the keyboard and turn off approximately 5 seconds after you move them away.  You can use the F6 and F7 function keys to decrease or increase the brightness level of the backlit keys respectively.  There are 15 levels.  This is worth noting as the backlit keys work regardless of the ambient light levels in the room.

Simultaneously pressing the “fn” and “esc” keys toggles the shift state of the function keys between standard and assigned features.  The assigned function key features can be repurposed to perform a variety of tasks using Logitech’s Options software.

Visit Logitech’s web page for a complete review of the Craft Keyboard’s many features and capabilities.  I ordered my keyboard directly from the site and I’m extremely pleased with my purchase.

Craft Advanced Keyboard.jpg

Although the Craft keyboard carries a steep price tag, when I consider the many hours that I spend working on my computers, the quality of the keyboard itself, and the new found real estate on my desk top, it’s worth every penny.

 

Increased productivity and creativity are just two of many reasons that make Logitech’s Craft Keyboard my new keyboard of choice.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

VersalyticsRelated Resources

Logitech’s Craft keyboard offers premium typing with big bonuses, Darrel Etherington, TechCrunch.com

Logitech Craft Keyboard – Review, Curt Blanchard, mymac.com

This Dial Controls Everything! – Logitech Craft keyboard, Hardware Canucks

MX Master 2S Mouse (Versalytics.org)

 

 

Lean Code – Part 2

Our article on “Lean Code” strongly suggests that the principles of lean can also be applied to the realm of software development, applications, and more specifically, programming.

Python has evolved to become a very popular and powerful programming language.  However, as mentioned in “Lean Code“, the performance of your application or program is as dependent on the skills of the programmer as they are on the capabilities of the programming language itself.

An example of skill versus language can be found in “Python for Data Science – For Dummies – A Wiley Brand” by John Paul Mueller and Luca Massaron (ISBN:  978-1-118-84418-2).  Page 106 of the book states:

It’s essential to realize that developers built pandas on top of NumPy.  As a result, every task you perform using pandas also goes through NumPy.  To obtain the benefits of pandas, you pay a performance penalty that some testers say is 100 times slower than NumPy for a similar task.

The functionality offered by pandas makes writing code faster and easier for the programmer, however, the performance trade-off exists for the end user.  Knowing when to use one module over the other depends on the programmer’s understanding of the language as opposed to simply providing a specific functionality.

Python for Data Science provides sufficient information to decide the best fit case for either pandas or NumPy.  The relevance of sharing this is to stress the importance of continually reading, learning, and understanding as much as possible about your language of choice for a given application.

From the end user’s perspective, performance matters and everyone wants it “yesterday”.  So, the question is, “Do we code quickly and sacrifice performance or sacrifice delivery for quick code?  What would you do?

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

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Learning From Mistakes

always make new mistakes
Always make new mistakes (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

An event occurred this afternoon that required an immediate resolution. When asked whether we were going to pursue the root cause, I could only respond with this question:

What’s the point of making mistakes if we’re not going to learn from them?

This is likely the shortest post I ever published here, however, I think the simplicity of the message makes the point very clear.

If you do wish to delve deeper into the topic of mistakes, I encourage you to read some of the related articles featured below.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

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Goals Without Means Are Meaningless

English: Everything starts from needs or desir...

The new year is upon us and, as is typical for this time of year, resolutions are one of the primary topics of conversation. With just over a week into the new year, it is very likely that the discussions of resolutions and goals have already begun to subside.

Unfortunately, for the many who do make resolutions, very few ever manage to achieve them. The reasons for failure are many but, more often than not, we either set the wrong goals or we fail to identify intermediate performance goals for the range of activities required to reach the final goal.

Where do you stand?

Setting the Right Goals

The diagram suggests that goals are determined by reviewing our needs and desires. However, what we desire most is often what we need least. For business leaders, strategy, goals, and objectives stem from a vision statement that reflects our purpose for being, our WHY. We are, in essence, Driven by Dreams and Powered by Goals.

What do the “right goals” look like? The John Whitmore model offers the following three (3) acronyms to help us discern the value and sustainability of our goals:

  1. SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Phased.
  2. PURE: Positively Stated, Understood, Relevant, and Ethical.
  3. CLEAR: Challenging, Legal, Environmentally Sound, Agreed, and Recorded.

To be successful, resolutions, much like goals and objectives, require more than a simple statement of intent. We need a plan that describes how we’re actually going to achieve them. In other words, we need to define “the means to an end.” As suggested by the Whitmore model, the expression, “Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail”, is only partially true when we consider that our success also requires us to be sufficiently motivated and challenged to embark on, and endure, the journey.

What if …

Clearly, not everything goes as planned. There are risks and obstacles that must be considered and, where possible, addressed as part of the planning process. Contingency plans are as much a part of planning as the “master” plan itself.

While it seems impossible to “expect the unexpected”, black swan events do occur. How we respond to these events is often the “make or break” point of our journey. During this time, our commitment to our goals and perhaps even our vision will be tested. For this reason, our core purpose or “why” must be of sufficient value to sustain our efforts and give cause to overcome the distractions and setbacks that are sure to occur.

The Plan

Goals without dates are merely dreams and, likewise, goals without a means to achieve them are meaningless. Motivate your team by instilling a vested interest through the development of a detailed plan that will be sure to inspire the team to not only follow up but to follow through on their commitments.

The scope and scale of a plan is dependent on the goals we are striving to achieve. We tend to underestimate the resources and effort required to accomplish the tasks at hand. The ability to identify detailed actions or tasks, required resources, responsibilities, and realistic timing will help to create a plan that leads to a successful conclusion, avoiding much of the confusion and frustration that poor planning can bring.

Execution

After all is said and written – it must be done. Execution of the plan – putting words into action – is how our goals become a reality. A variety of tools are at our disposal to manage our activities and progress ranging from simple white boards to professional project management software. However these activities are managed, we must ensure that we don’t get caught up in the management “process” itself and focus on the immediate tasks or actions at hand.

Additional learning occurs with every change or transformation process. As such, I prefer to use an “agile” approach that offers flexibility to change or evolve our “means” or “methods” without compromising the goal we originally set out to achieve.

Practice proves theory every time and the real proof of wisdom is in the results. We wish you all the best of successes to achieve the goals that you may have set for yourself and your team in 2013.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

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