Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guest Post: Applying Electronic Content Management Technology to the 7 TPS wastes

Today I am pleased to introduce a guest post by Samantha McCollough. Samantha is Director of Public Relations at iDatix, an award-winning leader in enterprise content management and business automation solutions. When not writing, she enjoys Scuba Diving, spending time with her dogs and painting. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily antics @smccollo.

Lean manufacturing has roots in the Toyota Production System (TPS), which is focused on minimizing waste for increased business optimization and value. Through reducing the top seven wastes outlined in the TPS model, a company can effectively improve efficiency and productivity while cutting costs for the most optimal business processes possible. The key concentrations include a reduction in waste regarding: transport, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over processing and defects. Advanced technology now allows for modern, electronic tools to further enhance and improve this established recipe for lean manufacturing success. One of the ways to leverage technology is to adopt an electronic document management strategy as a way to engage in efficient processes. An integrated workflow solution enables a company to control tasks, manage workers and have full visibility of the working process. Let’s look at how a mature ECM solution can be applied to the 7 muda to increase the effectiveness of lean principles.

Transport Waste. This is seen as the transportation of staff and products with no purpose both internally and externally, a common pitfall in organizations with limited process management and a lack of visual control. Often times, this problem is marked by the over shipment of products, the underutilizing of equipment, or the complex physical path of parts when moved through the plant. The ideal is an organized production line leading to delivery of the correct amount at the correct time, an objective met through efficient communication and quick customer response times; all aided through workflow management.

Inventory Waste. Monitoring and managing your manufacturing line properly minimizes the work in process and the amount of unfinished parts in queue. An electronic management system allows for total control of the workflow to effectively manage production and reduce or eliminate any inventory waste.

Waiting Waste. The traditional method of manually reviewing and delivering documentation can choke the core business processes. Idle time for both man and machine is considered the waste of waiting and is often caused by inconsistent processes and low man/machine efficiency, problems reduced or eliminated with business process improvement. An electronic management system allows for synchronization of work orders and worker instructions across each assembly step. A workflow ensures that staff members have the necessary requirements to complete a job at their fingertips without waiting for instructions or sign off to begin the next project.

Motion Waste. Time spent hunting down documents and hand delivering work orders drains resources. Through a decrease in man hours spent on manual tasks, such as traveling across the factory floor for worker instructions, searching for parts or moving heavy machinery, companies can see measurable cost savings and a quick return on investment. Utilizing workflow provides a means for workers to interact in a centralized environment; all work tasks and required information are accessible and viewable.

Overproduction Waste. Besides the inherent issues with excessive amount of unneeded goods, overproduction also results in added storage costs, increased transportation waste and a decrease in productivity due to the lack of demand. Symptoms of overproduction include inventory stockpiles, unnecessary equipment and additional storage space. An optimized and streamline business process offers complete management of the production line. Increased visibility ensures that only the required tasks are being worked on and a lean approach enables organizations to plan according to demand.

Over Processing Waste. Over processing is commonly identified as overlapping worker responsibilities, doing more than is required to meet the final goal, or printing documents that will quickly getting discarded just to share information. Standardizing processes and making documents quickly and easily accessible to all workers from a centralized repository will begin to eliminate over processing.

Defect Waste. One of the most highly regarded benefits is maximizing productivity rates with existing equipment and resources. A workflow management system allows for tracking and monitoring each work step along a process. This allows for identifying potential trouble areas or bottlenecks and reducing the chance of errors or defects. If a weakness exists, it can immediately be isolated and addressed. Companies must be able to anticipate what kind of volume they can push through with current staff, and go further by pinpointing the areas where improvements can be made. Functioning at peak performance, sometimes referred to as being at rate, is a goal facilitated through an electronic workflow solution.



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