“No standard, then no kaizen…” – Lean 3P continued…
By: George McDonald – LMS
In other words, when a process is performed unsystematically in different ways, then:
- There can be no basis for comparison (before/after)
- One cannot objectively tell if there was a difference or change
- No improvement is possible in regards to Time, Quality, Quantity, Cost, etc.
I define standardized work as the most efficient flow considering quality, safety, quantity and cost. Our next step in the 3P process was determining does the flow make sense in regard to this definition.
This project has a fairly aggressive timeline for completion in order to meet increased customer spa demand. Because the site already had experience running this type of product, they assumed they could do what they’ve always done. That is, add operators to
the new line based on past experience. More or less, when the line is up, they get to find out whether they guessed correctly or not.
What’s can go wrong with this thinking? From my experience, most sites always go heavy on their estimates as to how many people it will take. The problem with that approach is that it is very difficult to pull operators if you started with more than are actually needed. Too many operators will create a situation where it’s difficult to see waste. You may also find that the operators may not be able to perform their tasks based on the final layout, equipment design and tools available.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here about the downside of not doing preliminary standardized work, but I will say in this particular case, the company saved a lot of valuable time and money.
After analyzing the data, and not “past history of how we’ve always done it”, the standardized work told us that we could conservatively, without initial kaizen, do it with 18 operators/shift (versus 24/shift) and 1000 sq. ft. less floor space. In essence, we went from four plumbing stations to two, two equipment and box frame cells to one, and two Weir stations to one. The spas and component are heavy and cumbersome. The team improved the lift and reach ergonomics for the operator. We also feel we have the proper amount of tools and equipment for the line.
The picture below is a feeder cell that will support the spa assembly line with side panels. I will post more as the project progresses. Next on our list of events for 3P – material handling and components to the line.