Blog Archives

Visual Board for Production Standards

I have been working with one group on how to make there work more visual.  Show production goals versus actual production.  Make safety standards clear.  Highlight any problems to help them improve.

The supervisor of the area was on person leave when I was helping the area.  Upon her return, she liked what we had done.  In fact, she liked the idea so much that she made a visual board for another area where she is the supervisor.

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

What was the problem she was trying to solve?  Employees were always asking what their goal for the day was.  Employees would leave their work station and abandon their work to find the supervisor just to ask what the goal was.  The supervisor posted this board in the work area.

This reminds of Gwendolyn Galsworth’s book Visual Workplace Visual Thinking.  One of the questions of the visual workplace is “What do I need to share?”.  Goals and standards were something this supervisor needed to share with her team.

The board is simple and effective.

What have you made visual? What do you need to share?

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Guest Post: Hoshin Planning: Clear Business Objectives Help Guide Success

This week is Lean series week at Beyond Lean.  The blog posts will center around strategy deployment (or Hoshin Kanri).  Justin Tomac, Chad Walters, Karen Wilhelm and Tony Ferraro will be guest blogging.  This will give you different perspectives from on strategy deployment all right here at Beyond Lean.

blogphotoToday’s post is from Tony Ferraro, on behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR (www.creativesafetysupply.com). Tony strives to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. His knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. Tony believes in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier employees.

There are many businesses out there proposing new and creative ideas but somehow lack the guidance and direction to make a good product idea a successful reality. What is it that curbs these business ventures? Is it funding? Is it technology? Or is it a true sense of guidance and leadership? In most cases, the unfortunate truth is that a great product idea or truly unique business plot will flounder and fail without a strategic direction and strong force of leadership helping to guide business objectives. One of the ways to meet this need is to implement the principles of Hoshin Kanri or simply Hoshin Planning. Hoshin Planning is a Japanese term that basically means “strategic planning.” This type of planning strives to really involve all employees in the objectives and improvements within the organization. Top levels of management make it a priority to assure that that all employees feel involved and that they are working as one big team towards a common goal. With this mindset there are no winners or losers within the company, it is purely a team effort and everyone participates and is accountable to help in meeting the identified objectives. The need for continuous improvement is also a highly valued component in this type of planning.

Possible Hoshin Objectives

One of the first and most important steps within Hoshin Planning is to identify the areas in need of improvement, and since Hoshin Planning is about setting clear business objectives it is important identify which objectives are most valuable to the livelihood of the business. Some common continuous improvement objectives include: increasing production, improving current market share along with new market sales, reducing raw material costs and also reducing direct and indirect labor costs. The reason this step is so vital is because everything can’t be tackled at once, think of the analogy that the “big rocks” must be taken care of first in order to start focusing on the “little rocks.”

Organizing Objectives for Clear Measurement

Unfortunately, objectives are merely a list of far-fetched desires if they are not organized properly for action. Sure, a group of leaders can set aside some time to devise a list of company objectives and write them neatly upon a fancy sheet of paper. However, without a concrete plan to guide the objectives the objective planning session would be deemed useless, and the paper may even end up getting lost in someone’s briefcase only to stumble upon it again weeks later. Instead, once objectives are identified they need to be taken seriously and should be categorized and organized for efficiency. For example, once a group of leaders has clearly identified the objectives they would like to implement into the business, they could categorize them into four different types such as improvement projects, specific action projects, 3-5 goals, and annual objectives. By doing this, top company leaders as well as employees will be able to visualize the different objectives and goals and really understand the time frames behind them as well. Essentially this sets the stage for developing the approaches needed to help pursue the stated objectives and goals when moving on to the strategy development phase of Hoshin Planning.

Hoshin Planning is really a dynamic and multifaceted form of strategic planning which involves all areas of a business. However, in order to reach optimum effectiveness all staff should be on board and involved. With that said, and in conjunction with the right objectives, Hoshin Planning can be a huge asset to any business looking to improve overall company performance.

Setting Objectives with Goals

As the year comes to an end, companies and organizations start to evaluate how they performed for the year and what they need to do to make next year better.

The planning for the new year starts with objectives.  What is it the company needs to do to be successful in the upcoming year?  Reduce costs. Increase sales.  Bring new products to market.

Objectives are only half of the work though.  Too often, I see companies set objectives above but never publish a goal for the objective.

Can I reduce costs by $1 and be successful?  $100 million?  What?

How much do I need to grow sales?  What part of the company’s market needs to grow in sales?

How many new products need to hit the market?  How much revenue to new products need to generate?

Without answers to these questions how are people suppose to know if they are being aggressive enough during the year?  Maybe we only need to reduce costs by 5% or maybe it is 25%.  The answer to this question will inform how you go about reducing costs, growing revenue or bring new product to market.

As leaders, we need to set goals/targets for each objective.  Then we need to give updates during the year to understand how we are progressing towards these objectives.

These isn’t new or earth shattering.  But it is something I see quite a few companies neglect.

What are your objectives for next year?  What is your goal for that objective?

Production Sacrificed in the Name of Changeovers

Is it ever OK to value the number of changeovers you do in a day over your production numbers?  I say no.

I was with a customer recently that did just this.  The customer has done a great job of setting production goals for a press per shift.  On the production board, they write the production numbers in green if the meet or exceed the goal and in red if they do not.

Normally, this is great.  The customer is making the problem visible and easy to see.  Then I noticed that a number below the goal was written in green.  So, I asked about it.  The customer replied the operator did a lot of changeovers that day so we give them green if they do so many changeovers but don’t hit the production goal because the changeovers eat up a lot of their time.

The managers were giving a built in excuse for the operators to not meet the production goal.  If the goal was set with capability and meeting customer demand, then why is it alright to produce anything less than the goal?  This tells me they are not putting a big enough emphasis on changeover reduction.

The question should be changed to understand what is the changeover time needed.  If the largest number of changeovers I need to do in a shift is X and I am accounting for time T to do the changeovers, then my changeover time target should equal T/X.  Example: I allow 1 hour for changeovers and I need to be able to handle 10 changeovers in a day, then my changeover time target should be (60 min) / (10 changeovers) or 6 min/changeover.

If my current changeover time is more than 6 minutes, then I should be doing some sort of SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) activity to get the time to 6 minutes or less.

The number of changeovers can never be an excuse for why it is ok not to hit a production goal.  The mindset should be to continue to reduce the changeover time and ideally eliminate the changeover time so the production goals can be met.

My Goals for 2011

It is now the new year.  I hope everyone had a safe and fun time over the holidays.  For most of us, it is back to work today.  Has everyone set goals for themselves this year, whether it is at home or at work?

I haven’t used the term New Year Resolutions on purpose.  I don’t like the connotation resolution has.  Most resolutions are thrown out the window by the end of January.  Plus, it says I need to completely change something I am doing.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but as a lean practitioner I am reflecting and changing on a constant basis.  Not just at the start of the new year.

So here are some of my goals for 2011:

  • Continue to blog for a full calendar and make it meaningful and thought provoking to my readers
  • I want to meet more people from the blogshpere
  • Make my first reaction to a problem to go and see

What are some of your goals for 2011?  I would love to hear them.  If you make them public and known, it can help drive accountability.

Good luck in 2011!