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Monday Morning Message on Lean – July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010


At 5S Supply we are celebrating the Visual Workplace this month of July so I thought it would be appropriate to use the following quote.

Taiichi Ohno

“Make your workplace into showcase that can be understood by everyone at a glance. In terms of quality, it means to make the defects immediately apparent. In terms of quantity, it means that progress or delay, measured against the plan, and is made immediately apparent. When this is done, problems can be discovered immediately, and everyone can initiate improvement plans.” – Taiichi Ohno

Let’s break it down and take a closer look at some key words and phrases.

 Make your workplace into showcase that can be understood by everyone at a glance.

No one knows their workplace better than the value-adder who owns that area. Start with the individual – what would make their work easier?  How could we reduce the amount of unnecessary movement (motion waste)?

How do we make is easy for everyone to understand the current condition at a glance? Use things like signs, lines, labels, color-coding and communication boards.

In terms of quality, it means to make the defects immediately apparent. In terms of quantity, it means that progress or delay, measured against the plan, and is made immediately apparent.

I think this is interesting because Mr. Ohno chose to mention quality first and then quantity. He also points out that we have to make defects apparent or known and not hidden. One of my favorite stories is back when I was a quality manager at a company and I had to tell the operations manager “We don’t need 800 parts per hour. We need 800 good parts per hour.” He was more focused on production rates that actual useable products. It’s easy for people to forget that when they have always been under the gun to hit production targets or numbers and not fully understanding the impact of defects (as waste). Ohno also mentions twice that it needs to be immediately apparent. It doesn’t do an operator much good to see a defect chart from last month. How are they supposed to respond to that? Try 60-minute boards or even real-time indicators of actual versus planned.

When this is done, problems can be discovered immediately, and everyone can initiate improvement plans.

One of the things I say when trying to describe smaller batch sizes and pitch increments “As a supervisor when would you like to find out if there is a problem? Ten days after it happens and it gets to the customer? Ten hours after it happens and it is ready to ship? Or ten minutes (or one minute) after it happens and we can take care of it right then?” The answer is evident that we want to initiate corrective actions as soon as practically possible. I also like that Mr. Ohno mentions “everyone” is involved, not just the team lead, supervisor, manager or the quality department. Everyone gets a chance to jump in and help.

So let’s try to make our workplaces more visual and easy to understand at a glance as Taiichi Ohno would want.

For more information on the Visual Workplace visit www.5Ssupply.com.

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