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Actual Implementation

by Mike on Sunday, June 23, 2013 6:30 PM
Note to Readers:  Hyperlinks in this article define terms that are included in the Manufacturing Dictionary.  Please login to activate the hyperlinks.

In a site-wide Lean transformation, success depends upon the use of a structured approach to deployment. Ensuring this success is a process of moving each value stream through the 5 basic steps of deployment: Stabilize, Flow, Takt, Pull, and Sustain. Let’s define each of these:

Stabilize: Installing the base elements for stability and quality.

  • Stabilize staffing: Minimize large/short notice fluctuation in staffing through constant communication and monitoring. Improve everyone’s job flexibility using job rotation and skill matrix tracking.
  • Stabilize processes: Create a discipline for standards through the rollout of 5S, followed by standardized operating procedures guided by standard work rules. Start OEE analysis of the equipment and start PDCA/A3 problems solving. Start OPE analysis of the operators and start PDCA/A3 problems solving.
  • Stabilize quality: Identify the critical quality points in the process using QFD. Ensure the utilization of tools for both building in and checking quality (SPC, Poka-Yoke, and Andons). Problem solve specific large issues (FMEA or PDCA/A3).
  • Stabilize maintenance: Identify autonomous maintenance activity and link to maintenance department schedules. Train operators as necessary. Develop maintenance KPIs (MTTR etc.).
  • Stabilize logistics: Check history of logistics delivery effectiveness, problem-solve issues. Build short-term inventories if necessary to ensure uninterrupted supply during transformation.

Flow: Introduce the visual tools, triggers and inventory to ensure flow of material.

  • Smooth demand: Install leveling board to smooth out and make information visible. Group products where necessary with batch building boards.
  • Balance work content: Balance the work content between equipment and people using Yamazumi (work balance boards). Eliminate start/stop activities & waste.
  • Visualize material: Make inventory visible and standardize the movement of material with FIFO lanes and supermarkets. Design visual triggers and responses from the team to prevent stock-out situations.
  • Align logistics delivery: Follow guidelines from logistics micro designs to improve delivery and to remove or minimize material holding using 2-bin systems, synchronized delivery, small parts boxes, etc.

Takt: Pace the flow to match that of customer demand.

  • Monitor performance: Track progress of the production area in real time using production boards or monitors. Develop team leader responses for under-performance.
  • Identify Takt time requirements: Design differentiated manning/loading tables for different takts with target cycle times. Link back to production boards or monitors.
  • Create loading process: Prepare standardized preparation schedules and standardized work combination sheets for the different Takt times.
  • Link to overall production planning: Ensure linkage between Takt time planning and the capacity planning process. Create a standardized preparation schedule and discussion process (weekly meetings etc.) 

Pull: Link individual processes together to create a single process flow.

  • Link processes to one another: Physically link upstream and downstream process together using kanbans, conveyors, trolleys, electronic signals, queuing rails. Develop capabilities of operators and logistics.
  • Re-dimension and reduce WIP: Gradually reduce inter-process inventories as systems and capabilities mature. Create regular system/kanban maintenance checks.
  • Build skills/capability matrix: Improve skills matrix and operator development plans to add flexibility. Link to performance reviews and progression criteria. Train leaders in ‘train the trainer’ skills.
  • Create manpower flexibility triggers: Re-allocate manpower across areas in real time, to meet customer demand, triggered by manpower allocation tables. Use Andon support teams and overtime to add flexibility.

Sustain: Review and improve the change and coach line managers.

  • Update Standardized work: Amend standardized work for improvements to production process. Train personnel in standardized work Kaizen.
  • Create audits: Write audit sheets for all key elements of lean design.
  • Schedule weekly audit sessions led by a non-area person: Report results to management.
  • Coach managers: Identify areas requiring additional coaching. Complete trainings. Create communication channels for ad-hoc support.
  • Link performance to plant control center: Link activities to line control and plant performance monitoring system. Create trigger point management systems and escalation procedures.
  • Build continuous improvement: Create improvement infrastructure in the team. Develop idea management process. Train personnel in problem solving methodology.

There is a lot of information packed into the above descriptions and many abbreviations have been used. For a complete list of definitions and acronyms, please refer to my Manufacturing Dictionary. Implementing a site-wide transformation is no small task; it takes skill, expertise, and tenacity. We can help.


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(“The Professional Provoker”) is the Founder and President of Empowered Performance, LLC a worldwide management education and consulting firm. Michael has extensive international experience working with companies of varied sizes and industries helping them implement strategies to attain World-Class levels of performance. Michael has developed expertise in “Enterprise Excellence”, Enterprise Resource Planning and Supply Chain Management (ERP/SCM), Lean (Toyota Production System), Team Building and Problem Solving, Six Sigma and Reengineering Business Processes. He is considered an expert in helping companies develop and implement Strategic Business Units and fast response customer service production units.

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