By Jon Miller | Post Date: April 6, 2006 1:37 AM | Comments: 8
The more I visit companies the more I realize how profoundly lacking most of them are in the area of documented standards and procedures, to say nothing of Standard Work. As one of the cornerstones of the Toyota Production System, Standard Work (also Standardized Work) is very different from standardization or work standards. Standard Work is a very exacting thing. It is typically represented on a Standard Work Sheet showing the layout, material flow, people and inventory as well as quality and safety checkpoints, and the Standard Work Combination Sheet showing the steps for one person to complete one cycle of work and all associated manual, walk, wait and automatic times.
The definition of Standard Work is "the most effective combination of manpower, materials and machinery". Standard Work is the method, and thereby you have the four Ms of manufacturing (manpower, material, machinery, methods). Standard Work is only "the most effective" until the standard is improved. This is done through a continuous process called kaizen.
There are three elements to Standard Work for a repetitive process. They are 1) takt time, 2) work sequence and 3) standard work in process. For a process that does not repeat or is too variable it may not be possible to establish Standard Work according to these conditions (takt time is not meaningful, work sequence varies, Standard WIP varies). In this case, eliminating the variability or standardizing the process and creating a repetitive flow is the first step in kaizen.
Ultimately all work you do is the same, and when you understand this deep Zen of Lean everything else you do will become much easier, though the pace of change will seem to slow down in your new awakened state.
If you are scratching your head at this point and wondering what I could possibly be talking about it's a pretty good sign that you have huge opportunities at your company by implementing Standard Work. As I said above, it's similar but very different than having standardization, work standards, or standardized work instructions.
The two requirements for working in a truly Lean enterprise are 1) follow standard work, and 2) find a better way. There must be more to it than that, I hear you say, and you are right. For most of us who lack Standard Work, there certainly is more. First we need to establish the standards. Then we need to train people to these standards. Then we need to audit and verify that these standards are being followed.
I had a chance to reflect on Standard Work recently. I was visiting a customer site where two of our consultants were at the gemba. They were doing fine work helping the client to establish and document Standard Work. But as I was looking at the Standard Work documentation they had developed, my mind did a funny thing and asked "Where is the Standard Work procedure for consultants at Gemba?"
Although most of the people at Gemba have spent a significant amount of time working in factories, Gemba is not a manufacturing company. We can't claim to be the peers of our clients or know exactly how it feels to implement Lean manufacturing. We do try to apply as many of the philosophies and disciplines of Lean and kaizen as we can to our own company. Yet as vital and fundamental as Standard Work is, we are as guilty as our clients in making excuses when it comes to committing the resources to establishing and living by it.
I am hereby making a renewed personal commitment to establishing Standard Work at Gemba. Perhaps I will let you know how it goes.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.