Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lean in the Fast Lane

Earlier this year I was fortunate to work with MassMEP to create a unique training opportunity for one of our facilities.  The goal was to support transformation in a rather challenging area of our unionized plant, the maintenance trades.  We thought learning about Lean in this fun and energizing way would win them over.  We have seen many Lean improvements as a result of this approach.  Here is a summary of the first exercise we did called "Lean Management in the FAST Lane":

On Wednesday, June 30, 2010, the first “Lean Management in the FAST Lane” event was held at Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, CT. Teams from both Yankee Candle Company located in South Deerfield, MA and OFS, Fitel in Sturbridge, MA made up our first event. The day began with an introduction to a number of Lean Concepts which would be critical to the success of each team’s pit stop rounds to be held during the afternoon. Presentations and discussions included Continuous Improvement, Building a Winning Culture, Metrics and Measurement, Teamwork, Standardized Work, Job Instruction (JI), Job Methods (JM) and Sustainability. Each lean concept included examples demonstrating the use and application of the concept in the world of NASCAR racing.

The afternoon consisted of a walk around Thompson Speedway lead by former NASCAR Winston Cup Series 1988 Rookie of The Year and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Ken Bouchard. Each team then “suited up” for their training and 5 rounds of pit stops. Each round was video taped and critiqued including continuous improvement concepts and suggestions to improve their pit stop time in the next round. The results were amazing with each team able to cut their time in half by the fifth round. The OFS, Fitel team has set the bar for future teams with a “lightening fast” time of 19 seconds to change two tires and fill the tank with fuel.

“This was a very positive activity with lots of potential” said Tim McMahon, Lean Manufacturing Leader for OFS, Fitel. “I would highly recommend this event to others who are interested in further developing their lean concepts and teambuilding activities. Thompson International Speedway is also an excellent venue for this event” continued McMahon. Peter Dowling, Manager of Operations for OFS, Fitel had similar comments stating that “This program can go in so many positive directions, I really think you have something here.”

Now there is a video demonstrating the application on Lean thinking to solve problems utilizing team work from this training event.  If you look closely at the video you can see the transformation from the baseline to the last improvement which over the course of several hours is quite dramatic.  My company OFS is the blue team. 

OFS was able to improve from 30 seconds to 19 seconds using video analysis, job breakdown, poka yoke, and standard work.

A couple of key points I would like to emphasize:
1. Tailor your approach to Lean training to you audience if you want it to stick.
2. Emphasizing team work is essential in problem solving.
3. Competition is a always a good motivator.
4. People want to win, so help them win by providing the know how and the time to improve.
5. Learning can be fun, but you must bring the learning back to your organization.

Get in the Fast Lane with your Lean training.

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