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Monday, November 14, 2022

Lean Tips Edition #195 (#3136 - #3150)

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.

Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:

Lean Tip #3136 – Organize Your Materials and Parts for Efficient Retrieval

The amount of money (and time) that is wasted through a lack of organization can be staggering.

This particularly true if materials or components are stored at various points in the manufacturing process – with time spent retrieving these items making up a significant portion of your costs.

Making sure your storage and warehouse facility is well organized will improve this “picking” process, which can be further improved through the use of suitable parts or picking bins.

The increased speed at which the parts or components arrive at your manufacturing line will lead to increased productivity, as well as helping to avoid delays and production even stopping whilst waiting for items. This is also true for reducing picking errors, which organization can again help with.

And better organization can also highlight shortages of any stock more quickly, again preventing downtime.

Lean Tip #3137 – Maximize the Use of Space

Maximizing the use of space can be a surprisingly effective way to improve your manufacturing productivity. The amount of time employees spend moving from one area to another has a direct impact on the efficiency of your manufacturing.

By rearranging your factory floor to put commonly used equipment or machines closer to each other, to keep of stock of parts or components nearer to where they will be needed, and make each trip as efficient as possible (i.e. move multiple items with a tote, and ensure picking errors are minimized through well-organized stock and parts bins) can all have a big impact.

Ultimately, you may wish to consider rearranging your manufacturing floor layout in order to create a smoother workflow or both components, product and people.

Lean Tip #3138 – Troubleshoot and Maintain Machines

Regular maintenance and troubleshooting of your machinery and equipment is crucial in maintaining and improving productivity.

This is also where it is important to train – and then trust – the employees that use these on a daily basis. They will be the first to spot an issue, and if familiar with the equipment can potentially fix the issue with little disruption caused.

Besides this, knowing the signs that something is not running well (or even at capacity) can be critical in avoiding larger problems. It is far easier to keep a machine running through maintenance and care than it is to repair it once something has failed.

Lean Tip #3139 – Cut Down on Quality Waste (Material Scrap)

Every damaged component that cannot be used costs money. Every unfinished product costs money. Every item returned by your customers costs money – and hurts your brand and business reputation.

It is therefore essential to protect items when being stored (picking bins) and when being moved (handling totes).

And whilst it is also understandable that mistakes can and will occur, if this becomes too frequent then getting to the root cause and identifying a fix (either training / recruitment, new processes, equipment etc.) is critical.

Lean Tip #3140 – Remember to be Realistic With Your Goals

Expectations from your customers, tight deadlines and pressures from external factors (for example logistics and delivery times) can all lead to targets becoming distorted and often unachievable.

In cases such as this, it is important to manage expectations diplomatically and ensure corners are not cut – whether this is through safety or quality. This could lead to employees become demotivated, which can lead to worsening of productivity rather than improvements.

As a result, once you have a full picture of your current productivity, set realistic goals that focus on the quality of output, punctuality and that do not compromise safety.

And involving employees and gaining their feedback on initiatives can help them feel engaged and valued too.

Lean Tip #3141 – Start by Eliminating Waste.

This is one of the core principles of lean manufacturing. Typically, you may use a value stream analysis to identify wasteful activities occurring at the plant. At the same time, you can intensify efforts to find more efficient ways to add value to the company’s product line.

Lean Tip #3142 – Reduce Unnecessary Inventory.

The cost of maintaining excess inventory generally outweighs the potential benefits you might realize. It can tie up resources, slow down response time and complicate quality-control issues. Overstocking may become particularly problematic if some of the inventory eventually becomes obsolete-which is often the case.

Lean Tip #3143 – Extend Employee Autonomy.

Give more employees authority to make decisions and provide them with the tools and methodology for doing so. You can take this step even further by establishing teams to measure work progress and improve techniques. Frequently, companies find that viable solutions may be presented by employees below the management level. Plus, this kind of involvement can improve morale and performance.

Lean Tip #3144 – Focus on Continual, Long-Term Improvement

If you have succeeded in implementing Lean across your value stream(s), then you must continue with the good habits built during the transition. A critical aspect of Lean is continuous learning and improvement. In a sense, there is no ‘final’ goal except to simply removing (and preventing) wasteful processes and delivering value to the customer. Be it a change in manufacturing technology or even complacency, new wasteful processes could emerge in the future.

Lean Tip #3145 – Take the Time to Plan Your Road Map

Once you’ve made the decision to go all in on lean, it will be tempting to jump in head first. But, just like getting buy-in from your stakeholders, every minute you spend planning will save you time (and frustration) down the road. Plus, you need a map so you know where you’re going.

Lean Tip #3146 – Ask the 5 Whys to Improve Your Problem Solving Culture

Ready to get to the root cause of whatever ails your process, with your whole team on board? Start by asking why. In fact, plan to ask it a solid four more times as part of the 5 Whys, a Lean Six Sigma strategy that will move you past the symptoms to the heart of the problem. When you include coworkers and other stakeholders in offering alternative answers to the stream of whys, the collaborative effort can go a long way in fostering a problem solving culture that embraces change and values input from all.

Lean Tip #3147 – Use Standardized Work to Scale Your Business

Manufacturers stick to a standard process because doing the same thing over and over minimizes errors and waste. Similarly, when you create a checklist for every task, product, and process in your organization, you’re making your team’s work standardized, reducing variation and the competition of individuals’ preferred methods of completing projects. This standardization of workflow, responsibility, quality, and interaction with the customer is essential as you grow your business and expand your workforce. Even the scope, timing, and content of meetings can be standardized. This is how you establish best practices and continually improve on the way to scaling your business.

Lean Tip #3148 – Make Continuous Improvement a Goal for Your Business

One of the things that you need to have in mind all the time is your business and your industry keeps changing. You need to be quick in adapting your business to these changes. And this is where continuous improvement plays an important role. As you adapt to the changing environment, you should take what you already learned and change things for the better.

The reality is that there are always areas to be improved when you have a small business. From production to customer service, accounting or operations.

Lean Tip #3149 – Collect Performance Data and Act on It

Data collection on your production performance has great value. It can help you connect the dots when you discover inefficiencies. Measuring and tracking activity provides you with insights that can contribute to waste elimination and continuous improvement.

Combining this data into dashboards allows many eyes to view and assess it. For example, if throughput is down, you need to investigate why. You can look at data from all these streams, and you may find that a piece of equipment is underperforming. You’ve found the root cause and can address it.

Lean Tip #3150 – Keep Your Eyes Open to Improvement Opportunities

You won’t always work on strategy changing projects, but there’s usually the opportunity to make small improvements everywhere. By regularly making small improvements, you’ll witness a significantly more capable process long term. The sum of the parts really can be greater than the whole.

Given advances in technology, best practice and changing customer needs, there will always be a better way. So make sure you are constantly looking out for these opportunities and encourage others to do the same.

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