Monthly Archives: June 2013

Guest Post: Lean Logistics: Going Lean is Going Green

Danielle M.Today’s guest post comes from Danielle M.  She has been a dedicated student of Lean Manufacturing methodologies since 2006. It was love at first sight when she read the motto, “Everything has a place; everything in its place” in her first copy of The Toyota Way.

Lean logistics offer a systematic way of managing logistics from when the order is placed until it arrives on a customer’s doorstep. They include a highly detailed organizational approach to managing logistics while cutting out the fat of inventory, fuel costs and middle-man handling. However, there are challenges to this approach to logistics of real world operations with factors, such as natural disasters, social chaos and unpredictable markets, that come into play. Yet companies and technologies have put lean logistics concepts into action with great results.

Challenges in a Lean Transportation System

The transportation industry is expected to see drastic changes in the near future, with the implementation of natural gas and EOBRs. However, according to the lean system of logistics, these changes are vital to the continual operation of the trucking industry. Robert Martichenko, the CEO of the LeanCor Supply Chain Group, notes that transportation is a necessary evil. He states that looking at transportation costs as a separate entity is a fruitless effort. Instead, consider the total logistics cost, which includes purchasing, transporting, warehousing and ordering costs. Martichenko continues by identifying five guiding principles associated with lean transportation including strategy, waste, performance, cost structure and daily event management. For example, by shipping according to customer’s demand, rather than storing products in warehouses until they are requested as does Amazon, lean logistics reduces the amount of work associated with inventory control and warehousing.

Lean Technology

While most in management consider lean logistics in conjunction with manufacturing, technology used for these companies also incorporate lean concepts. For example, the supply and demand giant Amazon has created Amazon Web Services that uses cloud computing to offer infrastructure investment (IT) services and application at a low cost. More importantly, cloud computing allows even the smallest of businesses to create customizable and full-service IT departments using cloud storage and capacity. This cuts out the extra cost associated with hiring and managing an entire IT department in-house. Businesses using cloud computing can purchase only what services they need, such as secure large-scale document housing, temporarily increased bandwidth and expansion of servers. Development and implementation of applications is also streamlined when using cloud services, which allows businesses to reduce the cost and time associated with customizing technology associated with logistics management.

Green and Lean Businesses

Going green for many in the logistics industry is an overwhelming process. Combined with the aspect of keeping with lean logistics, it can seem like an impossible task. However, green and lean are actually very similar, as lean logistics reduces the ecological footprint while streamlining the logistics process. One website focused on operations research with a green and lean foundation is GreenOR. This site offers suggestions for creating greener logistics, such as through energy efficiency, green supply chains, waste flow and renewable energy. For example, through the use a fleet management system such as those offered by Omnitracs, a trucking management team and its drivers are capable of cutting down on fuel costs by creating more efficient routes and by streamlining driving habits. The lean method is evident throughout the use of sustainable logistics methods, such as with the reduction of energy use and the establishment of green supply chains that reduce the amount of waste in the system.

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5S at the Gym

Over the last few weeks at the gym I have noticed some good examples of 5S and some very poor examples of 5S creating clutter.

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A good example of 5S is the placement of weights throughout the gym.  The dumbbell rack has the weight labeled on the racks so you know where to put the dumbbells when you are finished.  The small barbell rack is labeled with weights to know where to put them back as well as the free weight trees.

 

This is a prime example of having good 5S does not change behavior.  It just creates the ability to see an abnormal condition quickly.  The dumbbell rack is always kept in good order and dumbbells are always in the proper place.  But the free weights and small barbell weights are NEVER in the correct spot.  I can spot the issue quickly and I can take action to find what I need.  For the life of me, I still can’t figure out how the same people can put the dumbbells in the correct spot but 10 feet away not put the free weights or small barbells in the correct spot.

A bad example of 5S in the same weight room is not having a place to put attachments for the cable pulley machines.  These machines have a ‘W’ shaped bar, a straight bar, a rope and handles to do different exercises and work different muscles.  I have never seen one of these machines with a spot labeled for these attachments.  All the attachments lay on the floor an ‘walk away’ between different machines.  Half the time I spend looking for the attachment I want for my exercise.  It becomes very frustrating.  I can’t even tell quickly if the attachment I need is in the pile laying on the floor.  Once I recognize it isn’t, then I have to go and look at the other machines or decide to change my routine.

Just because you have a place for some things, does not mean you are finished with your 5S efforts.  And once you have a place for things, it takes constant monitoring to make sure the efforts don’t slip and the area ends up back in chaos.

Beyond Lean On Vacation

 

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I am doing something this week that I haven’t done in the three years of having the blog.  I am putting the blog on vacation while I am digging my toes in the sand on a nice warm beach.  I hope everyone has a great week.  I am looking forward to relaxing and unplugging for a bit.

Above is a picture from the beach I will be on.  We took the picture last year.  Ahhh!

IT in a Modern Company

Over the last few months, I have gain a greater appreciation for the role that an IT division plays in a company.  It use to be that IT was there to make sure the servers were running and all the software applications were working.  Not a small task by any means.  There is a lot of building, testing and monitoring that has to go on to accomplish this.

In today’s technology age, a lot more has been added to their plate.  With the explosion of wireless technology and cell phones there is a lot more to consider.  There is more security exposure through cloud computing and mobile transactions.

Most companies are trying to utilize apps on a tablet or smartphone.  It isn’t as simple as building an app.  What is security around the app?  How do you make the app available?  iTunes?  Other methods?  Are you accepting customer data from the app like credit card information?  What is the security compliance to keep that information safe?

It really is amazing all the added responsibility the new technologies have given an IT division in a company.

While all the background work may not be value added to the customer, it is necessary in order to deliver the value to the customer.  We must be able to provide the security and app in the most efficient manner.

Are there things you have seen that has increased IT responsibilities in your company?

Coaching Takes Personal Investment

“I don’t feel like a coach anymore.  We are friends and I care about what happens.”

—Usher on The Voice

I know what you are thinking right now, “Did he really just quote Usher on a lean website?”

The answer is yes I did.  Usher made that comment about a week ago when asked about his thoughts on coaching his last remaining team member.

The comment struck me because I have had the same experience when being coached and when coaching.  The people that have coached me I feel that we have become friends as well as the people that I have coached.

Being a coach is more than just giving instruction, whether it is in business, sports or life.  When you are fully vested in coaching you care about what happens to the other person.  When you truly care it is hard not to become friends or develop a more lasting relationship.

We may say we are coaching a lot of different people but when it comes right down to it we really only coach a few people at a time.  It becomes too intense to do anything more.  We may instruct or guide others, but when it comes to coaching there is much more of a personal investment.

Usher wasn’t the only coach to make similar comments.  I noticed that other coaches on The Voice have said the same thing about caring for their team members they coach.

Who has coached you?  Do you still talk with the ones that really had an impact on you whether it be sports or business?

 

Process of Shaving

If you are a male like me you may hate shaving as much as I did.  I saw it as a chore.  Something that had to be done because I didn’t want a huge ZZ Top beard.  Because I didn’t want to do it, I took the short cut.  I used an electric razor and then used a multiple blade hand razor to get what was left.  The results…lots of ingrown hairs, a super sensitive face that stung when any lotion was applied and bleeding through my neck area.  Not cuts but blood seeping through almost like a scrap.

shaving_brushA few weeks ago, my wife talked me into going into a shave specialty shop.  I spent a good 30 minutes with the sales woman.  She showed me their natural shaving products and then talked about the proper process for shaving.  I learned that for most men, the multi-blade hand razors are still very irritating to the skin.  The best are the old school single blade razors that you screw into the handle, not the cheap disposable kind.

So what is the proper process for shaving?

  1. Wash your face
  2. Apply an essential oil to help the hairs stand up and to lubricate
  3. Apply shaving cream to a shaving brush in a small amount.  I learned that badger hair is naturally anti-bacteria.
  4. Use the shaving brush to apply the shaving cream to your face
  5. Shave face going WITH the grain.  Use short strokes and rinse.
  6. Apply more shaving cream with the shaving brush
  7. Shave face going AGAINST the grain.  Use short strokes and rinse.
  8. Rinse face and dry
  9. Apply after shave balm for soothing and moisturizing

If you are like me, you are thinking, “really?!  That seems like a lot and over the top.”

My wife convinced me to give it a try, so I bought the brush and the oil, shaving cream and after shave balm.

It has been a few weeks and I have to say the results are amazing.  I get a much closer shave so I don’t have to shave as often.  I have had zero ingrown hairs, my face is less sensitive and I don’t bleed when I shave.

You might be thinking, “Great to know, but in the world does this have to do with lean?”

The answer is…a lot.

Too often we don’t want to follow the process because it seems long, over done or a pain, so we take short cuts.  We may end up getting some good results once, but that won’t be repeatable.  Take the problem solving process.  We may short cut investigating the current state and what the problem truly is.  One time we may get a good solution in place, but other times it is patchy results at best.

As tedious as it may seem at times, we should always follow the process when we know it will give us good, sustainable results.

What is 5S?

5S is a process to achieve a safe, efficient and organized workplace.  It allows people to see if things are abnormal quickly, so they can address the issue.  It does not keep people from doing something.  5S just allows someone to see if something isn’t right quickly.

The Five S’s are:

  1. Sort – Decide what is needed and what is not needed.  Get rid of the things not needed.
  2. Straighten – Understand how things are used and put them in an appropriate place for the work space.
  3. Shine – Clean and label the area.
  4. Standardize – The work you have done is the new standard and needs to be kept that way.
  5. Sustain – The hardest part is not to let the work space degrade.  Put checks in place to keep the standards in place.

Quite often 5S is equated with being lean.  A large number of people believe that 5S is foundational to being lean. The thought is 5S is the first thing an organization must do to be lean.  That is not necessarily the case.

Something as simple as organizing the workplace can help improve the efficiency of many things you do.  I have seen 5S help gain large improvements with quick changeovers of machines.  Looking for tools always seems to be the biggest waste when breaking down a setup of a machine, so having the tools in a particular spot every time can help a lot.

5S is not just for the manufacturing floor.  It can benefit any work space, including in the office.  But you do have to be careful.  When it comes to 5S in the office many people get carried away.  They prescribe marking where the computer should be and taping an outline around the stapler at everyone’s desk.  This isn’t the purpose of 5S, so be sure to do 5S correctly in the office in environment.

Think of a NASCAR garage when doing 5S.  It is spotless.  The reason, so any drip from the car can be seen immediately and the problem can be addressed.  You can’t go too far with organizing your work place.

5S is hard work.  The hardest part is sustaining the work of the first 4S’s.  Sustaining the work takes discipline.  If the discipline is maintained the rewards of 5S can be great.

Good luck on your path to success with 5S.