I have been lucky enough to be working with a government agency that is implementing a new system. As part of the implementation we are using Lean tools like Value Stream Mapping and quality tools like SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer) diagrams, Fishbone (a.k.a. Cause and Effect, or Ishikawa) diagrams along with creating procedures and measures that would comply with the ISO 9001 Quality Management System standard.

One of the things that struck me was when we were looking at particular tasks and used the Value Stream Mapping data point of Accurate & Complete (a.k.a. Complete & Accurate or C&A) is that we could go a little further to make this even more relevant. To me, A&C is one term, meaning that the information given to you has to be accurate and complete or else it is a defect. Think of it as First Pass Yield (FPY) for information. I usually ask the participants to give ma an estimate based on a percentage. I’ll ask “out of 100 or out of ten how many times are you missing information or the information is incorrect?” Then I will ask how many times out of 100 do you ever hear back that what you did (your process) was missing information or had wrong information? I call this the feedback number. I invented this years ago when I realized that when value stream mapping in office, service or healthcare functions, when a mistake is introduced into the system it may be several steps down the value stream before anyone notices. Sometimes the person that finds the error just fixes it and the person who made the error never finds out. Other times, they send the error back for correction and this takes additional resources and time. All of this can be seen as waste.

While we were discussing A&C, the comment came up that it is extremely important in this case that the reports are also timely. These reports relied on information being entered into the system by a certain time so that others could use the data and generate other important reports. If the information is late either the reports are delayed or they may go out missing important information once again reducing A&C. This made me think of (leader) standard work from David Mann’s book “Creating a Lean Culture”. So I began to think that we needed to create a new VSM data point like “% Late” or “% On-time”. This may be a way that we could monitor this complex process through the ISO 9001 Quality Management System using VSM measures & metrics.

I know that Toyota or other lean companies do not have to have ISO 9001 certification, but for some companies, pursuing ISO 9001 is a good idea. I think that in the world of Lean we could help out by streamlining the processes, reducing waste and helping create a better QMS.

What do you think? Do Lean and ISO 9001 go together? Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks, Tony

In 5S, why does ‘Sort’ come before ‘Set-in-order’?

While performing a 5S Event last week in a job shop we ran across the typical workbench for operators. Let me give you a little background information about this kaizen event. This was a well thought out event because the company was relocating one of its machines (a vertical boring mill) and they decided it would be a great idea to do a 5S around the machine in its new area. This company is relatively new to Lean and 5S; this was their second 5S event. Some of the team members had 5S experience at previous employers. 

There were two things that I found amazing from this event: 1) the power of Sort, and 2) the ability of operators to be able to see things in a new way.

The power of the first “S” in 5S – ‘Sort’

There was a workbench that they brought over from the old work area. The team just assumed that they would use it in the new area. When we applied ‘Sort’ to the workbench, clearing out all the things they didn’t need using the 5S Red Tag Technique, the team realized that there wasn’t that much that they actually needed from the bench. The supervisor, who likes to be organized by his nature, explained that he had all the items in the workbench pretty organized, but his ‘ah-ha’ moment came when he realized he was organizing things they really didn’t need. The power of ‘Sort’ came through like a freight train. Why organize things you don’t need in the work area? This seems obvious to anyone, but I would challenge you to go to your work areas and see if anything needs to be Red Tagged. He realized that he spent time organizing (Set-in-Order) things that he didn’t need to and that this was waste.

The workbench after 'Sort'.

5S red tagged items removed from the workbench.










Operators Seeing Waste

Now I am very sensitive to the workbenches around equipment and machines. These tend to become very personal for the machinists or operators. When I approach this topic, I’ll be aware of the sensitive nature of what I am about to suggest. As you all know, a horizontal surface can become a potential area for items to accumulate. When it comes to workbenches, it seems that they have far too many things on them and are much bigger than the need to be. So I will challenge (in a nice way) the operators to see if there is something else they could use other than a workbench or at least a smaller workbench. At first, I’ll get strange looks like I am trying to take away all their freedom but after thoughtful questions and discussions the operators usually see the waste that they have because of the bench including motion (walking) and search time. In this particular case they decided that they didn’t need a big bench. The team decided on a tool shadow board with only the tools they needed for operation and set-ups, and a small work table to measure parts. My favorite part was when an operator came up to me and said that he never thought they would ever get rid of the old bench. He was amazed that when you look at things with an open mind what a better solution you cold come up with. Kudos to those operators who see this and are willing to change!

Don’t waste you time organizing what you don’t need. ‘Sort’ first!

Well, I hope everyone survived Thanksgiving with nothing worse than a full stomach. We quickly moved on to “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” I’m surprised we made it through all that no worse for the wear.

Now, I have to mention that a lot of things in my life I claim to be Just-in-Time (JIT). I think I usually say that if I am trying to do something right before the deadline. So I will admit that when it comes to Christmas shopping I can be very JIT, as in December 24th. A friend of mine mentioned “What of you applied Lean to your Christmas shopping practices?” What a strange concept, but here it goes.

My first thought was to not buy any presents at all, therefore saving me all the time and money involved. I could reinvest that time and effort into something more useful (like writing better blog postings). Just think of all the waste I avoided – no inventory, no transportation, no defects (as in getting the wrong gift). I might go down in history as one of the greatest Lean Holiday thinkers of all time! Oh wait, I also might go down as the ultimate Scrooge. Besides I think I should at least get something for my wife to be on the safe side.

That brings me to me second thought of how to apply Lean to holiday shopping – have my wife do it for me. Once again, I could save a lot of time not having to fight traffic to go to the mall, spend my time searching for the perfect gift and hopefully finding a salesperson that would check me out – all in time to make it back to watch the football game on TV. After thinking about this approach I found that there may be some flaws. For instance, if I allow my wife to get her own present, I may have gotten her something really, really expensive this year without even knowing it. Good for her; not so good for my wallet. On the other hand, she might get me socks, just socks. I think I need to alter this approach. Maybe I could hire a professional shopper. Well, once again I’m not sure what the results would be, plus the expense. I’ll have to pass on that one for now.

O.k. I think I am getting warmer. Maybe I could do all my Christmas shopping on-line this year. Do a few Google searches, find something that I think is nice and just plunk down the ol’ credit card. Sounds like a plan to me. I missed “Cyber Monday”, but maybe they’ll allow me a second chance. Besides everyone offers free shipping on-line now. I have a friend that tells me he ONLY buys if they offer free shipping. I have to remind him that “Free shipping is not free”, just ask Milton Friedman (Nobel Prize Winning Economist, “There no such thing as a free lunch.”).

Well, at this point I think I’ll have to come up with some other ideas on how to make holiday shopping lean. I could just rely on Santa, but he’s a pretty busy guy this time of year. If you have any ideas or suggestions for me, let me know. I only have three weeks left!

Thanks and good luck with your list! – Tony