Everyday Lean: How To Implement Standard Work To Create a Lean Culture

Everyday Lean: How To Implement Standard Work To Create a Lean Culture

Whether you’re getting dressed in the morning or completing a complex job within a manufacturing facility, the power of standard work can often be easily overlooked. When LeanCor opened its first lean sequence center in North Liberty, Iowa in the summer of 2008, the first task was to implement the house of lean. Stability is the foundation of the house of lean, and, in order to create stability within our processes it was essential that we captured, documented, and taught standard work to our operators.

It was a typical Friday afternoon. As second shift began, we were faced with our normal Friday obstacles; one person called in sick, another had a family emergency. There we were, responsible for feeding two production line parts our customer needed in order to hit its upcoming holiday demand. Normally in that situation we use a training matrix that helps us manage our staff and ensure we are placing the most experienced operators in each work cell. This matrix ensures maximum quality and efficiency. One of our operators, Stephanie, was assigned to work in a brand new cell that day. She had seen it once or twice, but had never been responsible for running that particular cell. Ten minutes after the shift began, 5S audits were completed and parts starting moving. I was taking my hourly walk of the operation to ensure all was well when it happened. As I approached Stephanie’s work cell I couldn’t help but notice she seemed to have lost something very important, and was frantically searching around. At that moment, one of our team leaders was also conducting a routine area check that includes Stephanie’s work cell. I stood behind a rack of material hoping not to be seen or influence the events that were about to unfold. Team leader Dan looked at Stephanie and said, “Stephanie, what’s wrong? Is there something I can help you with?” Stephanie replied, “Oh Dan, thank goodness you’re here! I have looked all over and can’t seem to find the standard work binder for this cell.” Hearing one of our operators naturally practicing lean principals, I was filled with a great sense of pride. Stephanie was setting an example for all the operators on how to be successful within the operation. Moments after my pride welled up, my lean instincts took over and I began to ask why the standard work binder was not easily accessible to the operator. Why did we not have a dedicated location marked off with a visual to indicate the place for the binder?

In summary, the situation that occurred with our operator was one of many examples that have occurred over the past few months within our operation. To introduce the concept of standard work to an operation with no lean training is very challenging. Witnessing the team begin to embrace a fundamental lean principle such as standard work confirmed that progress had been made.

Standard work is the basis for continual improvement and sustainability. Additionally, it's a powerful tool for eliminating waste. A method of built-in quality, standard work uses simple, clear, visual documents to show a standard method of doing a job. Standard work should be continuously updated with documentation to expose problems and should be owned by the team or department doing the work.

Why Implement Standard Work?

  • To make it possible to identify and eliminate variations inoperator work
  • To sustain the gains achieved from improvement activities
  • To provide a baseline for future improvement

Elements Of Standard Work:

  • Total Labor Time
  • Takt Time
  • Cycle Time Work
  • Sequence
  • Job Steps
  • Machine Time
  • Standard WIP
  • Desired Output

Leaders - How To Develop Standard Work:

  • Engage employees in the development process
  • Encourage team members to collaborate and identify the current best practice (if one does not currently exist)
  • Be realistic for current state of the process
  • Guide through the creation and provide final feedback / approval
  • Design with the intent to make problems visible
  • Capture takt time of the process

“Today’s standardization…is the necessary foundation on which tomorrow’s improvement will be based. If you think of ‘standardization ‘ as the best you know today, but which is to be improved tomorrow – you get somewhere. But if you think of standards as confining, then progress stops.” - Henry Ford, 1926

Written by Brad Frye, Assistant Operations Manager and Roger Pierce, Director of Lean Deployment at LeanCor

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Posted by LeanCor, A Transplace Company

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We Teach. We Consult. We Do. LeanCor is a strategic supply chain partner that provides managed transportation, supply chain consulting, and corporate training programs. These three, integrated solutions help businesses better serve their customers by eliminating waste, decreasing costs, and building cultures of continuous improvement.

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