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Vishwadeep Khatri

Lean Tools that allow for improvement in themselves

Lean

 

Lean is an ever evolving philosophy based on proven principles and practices aimed at the elimination of waste (improving efficiency) with the objective of making every step, task, & activity create value for the customers. Lean is a continuing process of change involving everyone in the organization. Lean principles originated at Toyota.

 

Applause for all the respondents- Saounak L, Muhammad Mehdi Hassan, Vastupal Vashist, C.Saravanan, Prashanth Datta, Piyush Shukla

 

Also review the answer provided by VK

Question

Q. 141  While Lean is about continuous improvement in processes, some of the Lean Tools are such that they have a significant scope of “Continuous Improvement” in terms of how they are used. 

Provide examples of few such Lean tools which encourage very good scope of almost unending customization and enhancement in themselves. 

  

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Some of tools that allow for customisation and enhancements in themselves are as follows - 

 

Kanban board - This provides endless opportunities for improvement in terms of breaking up of tasks, marking expedite lanes, adding tasks on kanban cards etc. Online Kanban board platforms provide even more methods of customisation and tool improvement. 

 

Future VSM - The extent and format of details that are to be captured in a future VSM have unlimited opportunities for improvement. 

 

Andon Boards - Andon boards have infinite methods of adding details in terms of who should get alerts of what kind with what kind of escalation and how will resolution feedback be re-circulated (etc) 

 

Kaizen - The way in which Kaizens are identified, planned, executed and the way feedback and efficiency is tracked provides continuous improvement opportunities.

 

The Lean Champion needs to be on the lookout for methods and approaches that make Lean tools more effective and therein lies the opportunity of maximising the value generation for a Lean Enterprise. 

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Following lean tools may be used for continuous improvement.. 

1. Kanban

2. 5whys

3. Value Stream Mapping

4. Gemba walks

5. PDCA cycle

6. A3 method

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Benchmark Six Sigma Expert View by Venugopal R

 

In the earlier days, ‘JIT’ (Just In Time) was a very popular term from the Toyota Production System. Later on, came the term “Lean” and “Lean Management”. While one could get into the detail of why the term “Lean” has been chosen for what ever it means in management, let’s look forward to what it denotes. To me, it indicates ‘discipline’. If one has to remain ‘lean’ even from a physique context, it requires certain disciplined life style. Similarly, if I need my workplace to be ‘Lean’, it will require a disciplined work style on a continuous basis.

 

Simple practices such as 5S may be taken as the starting point for Lean. In fact, many of the lean methodologies could be related to 5S steps.  Again, many organizations start this, but sustenance of the standardized process and perpetuating the cycle of 5S will ensure continuous improvement in efficiencies.

 

One of the most important topics in Lean is VA and NVA process. This is a very dynamic concept, since what we consider VA has the potential of becoming NVA tomorrow, with the advent of Technology. Consider how the billing would have happened in a super market, some years ago before the bar coding concept came into place! Similarly, what is considered NVA could also cease to be NVA with technology. Mix up of different types on invoicing during an accounts payable processing required manual inspection and sorting in between the processing. However, by implementing an auto sorting based on optical character recognition, it no longer was perceived as an NVA.

 

If an organization has to effectively practice and sustain lean processes, the practices have to be extended to its suppliers and customers as well. For instance, to practice the concept of “Point of Use” inventory, it is important to evolve phases of improvement starting from in-house to suppliers. This could involve modification of layouts, improvement of process capabilities, improved material handling, improved supply chain management process, Improved MIS and above all improved mind-sets of employees. The chain will have to spread across the supplier’s organisations as well, leading to extended efficiency improvements.

 

Application of modern methods like Data analytics and Machine learning have helped in leaning out processes with automation. These methods present a model of continuous improvement that keeps evolving. The historical data is continuously used to learn more about the expectations of the process and the process gets refined automatically and continuously, making itself leaner and more powerful with time.

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There  is no doubt that all the lean tools are useful in different different purpose. Challenge is how you are using those. If you are in the initial stage of implementing lean, you should start with 5S - simple and powerful tool of lean. Even when you will start 5S, please please please, don't use all the five "S" at a time. Just start with "Sort". Then one by one.

Another powerful tool is Kaizen. Other tools are VSM, Jidoka, JIT etc.

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Lean is basically eliminating waste from your organisation. There are various tools which encourage very good scope of almost unending customization and improvements. Some of them are give below

1. Improve 5 S

2. Reduce 7 waste or reduce DOWNTIME which is a short form of 7 waste or Muda in the organisation. 

3. Value Stream Mapping. 

4. Work standardization

5. Heijunka

6. Kanban Pull system

7. SMED

8.Problem Solving /PDCA/PDSA

9. FMEA

 

 

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Answer is Kanban.

 

Kanban is a tool to visualise the shop floor inventory, Gaps and Overflow. On the daily basis we can identify overflow kanban as well as insufficient kanban. The causes for overflow and insufficient can be taken for continuous improvements on daily basis 

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As suggested, Lean focuses on continuous improvement in processes by eliminating the non value adds. Lean tools which enables this activity manifests it's capability in such a way that some of the tools have gone beyond industry restrictions and hence play a critical role even in Six Sigma approach, especially during Analyze and Improve Phase. I will list 5 such tools which I use and believe in its effectiveness irrespective of the process improvement projects domain.

1. Value Stream Mapping

2. Kaizen

3. Cause- Effect Diagram, Fish Bone Analysis

4. 5 Why's

5. Poka-Yoke (Mistake Proofing)

 

Value Stream Mapping --- Irrespective of industries, in order to improve any process, you need to understand how the process works first. While flow charts are good starting point, a step ahead is breaking down the process into minute details using VSM which help break down steps with in each process, time taken for each activity, it's  dependency etc., This would nearly help you identify your areas of opportunities which you can zoom in and work. This VSM approach holds no bar or restrictions and helps all industries. I get to hear all Big Data discussion meeting rooms are filled with flow charts :)

 

Kaizen - Most often in our day to day operations experience, we see issues but also possible solutions. Our work force, basis their work expertise will suggest multiple solutions and cross functional owners who can help to fix issues. With too much information and solutions, you need to put a method to madness and thy name is KAIZEN. In this approach you bring your problem statement, your experts across teams, stipulate time, get a structure to discuss, evaluate and finalize solutions, have a action tracker on agreed actions, owner and timeline and implement to see your process improve.

 

Cause- Effect Diagram, Fish Bone Analysis --- This tool systematically helps you list all possible causes on your left for the possible problem in focus. It not only captures all problems but also helps group under different categories viz Material, Man, Machine, Mother Earth, Method, Measure etc., These logical groupings in way will help to focus on areas where actions are possible. This then leads to improve phase solutioning.

 

5 Why's -- This is the most simpler and logical tool, forget Lean Six Sigma, is also applicable to our day to day life. Even Six Sigma despisers would be using it without their knowledge :) Every question, you ask Why and it has been established that mostly by 5th Why you will have a fair solution in hand.

 

Poka-Yoke -- A true value add which enables mistake proofing thinking while you implement your solution to make it most robust. This has its relevance in today's world where we have a lot of sensitivity involved i.e. finance, personal data etc where relevant stakeholders take adequate precautions for errors to happen in first place. Few basic examples are your banking window timeout, currency cards locked for incorrect pins after stipulated attempts etc., Even in aspects of Physical Security and other Risk related activities, we see Poke Yoke playing significant roles.

 

While there are other significant tools, I have listed those which I used and have found extremely useful.

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According to me 5S is the one of the lean tool which can be used for continuous improvement. Since there will be always scope of  improvement. 

Every time we need to examine opportunities as well make sure prioritize them basis criticality, design action or process to ensure ground level work. Again will gauge improvement ..

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