By Jon Miller | Post Date: October 23, 2008 12:36 PM | Comments: 11
Today we received a question from Konrad, one of our readers, on how to implement lean manufacturing (LM). He asked:
I tried to find if there is a particular way to implement LM. I found only this:
1. Factory tour & meeting with management
What tool of LM do you use first? Is it always VSM or 5S? Or is it based on assessment and TPM or SMED can be first tool to implement?
For the reader new to the lean terminology, here is a quick guide:
VSM is value stream mapping. It is a good overall assessment tool for gaining an understanding of the current processes and its weaknesses. With some familiarity of the other improvement tools, it is possible to determine where, when and what to do, or in other words to create a basic plan for implementing lean. But the assessment should not be focused only on which tool needs to be applied. This can be one of the weaknesses of value stream mapping, which looks at the material flow and related information flow, but takes into account the organization structure or organizational readiness elements, nor the overall leadership philosophy and cultural mindset of the organization.
SMED is single minute exchange of dies and is synonymous with quick changeover and set up time reduction. SMED is a well-established methodology based on observing the time and motion activity surrounding a changeover event to identify waste as well as internal time and external time elements. The work is reorganized in such a way as to minimize the down time of the process. SMED can be the right place to begin lean manufacturing implementation when the main desired benefit is inventory reduction, lead time reduction, or the regaining of capacity lost due to changeovers. It does require that the goal is clear in the beginning in order to avoid creating more waste, for example producing more (waste of overproduction) in the time saved by SMED instead of doing more changeovers and improving flexibility.
TPM is total productive maintenance and this can be a good place to start for any organization that relies on capable and available equipment in order to deliver their product or service. TPM is a comprehensive system that includes 5S, SMED and many other lean manufacturing tools in order to improve performance by reducing the six big losses and improving overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). TPM is not properly a "lean manufacturing tool" but rather a management system centered on measuring and improving equipment performance through total involvement and small group activities. It is the right place to start when equipment losses are the biggest opportunity but it also requires substantial commitment to start and sustain.
5S is workplace organization through sort, straighten, sweep, standardize and sustain activities. Many lean manufacturing implementations begin with 5S since it is simple to learn and do, can immediately involve everyone, and typically has a higher return in terms of safety, quality, delivery and cost improvements compared to the time invested. However we need to caution ourselves not to attempt 5S without a clear understanding of how it will be supported and sustained. As the saying goes "If you can't do 5S, you can't do lean," and it may be better to think of 5S not as a tool but as discipline. Starting with 5S is a good idea so long as people are not too eager to "move on" to the next tool without demonstrating that 5S is part of the culture. In this sense 5S is best undertaken if understood to be part of a larger system (such as kanban, TPM or built in quality).
In reality, you probably cannot succeed by using only ONE lean manufacturing tool first. A balanced approach is needed which addressed the process aspects (layout, equipment reliability, quality or method standards, etc.), people aspects (basic discipline, morale, team structure and supervision, training level, etc.) and then problem solving tools and systems in parallel if not last. Such a three-prong approach requires understanding and leadership commitment beyond an process improvement project.
What tool of lean manufacturing do you use first? It probably does not matter. The only requirements are that 1) you have a high chance of sustaining its success, 2) it is clear how you can make a progression to the next tool or system, and 3) the purpose of using the tools is clear, i.e. there is a positive people, process or profit impact.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.