Tag Archives: continuous improvement

Getting Back to Basics in Quality Improvement

5KeysQMA

Essential for survival, a strategy of getting your organization back to basics can make the difference in obtaining significant bottom line results.

How do you build quality in your company?

By applying 5 basic principles, your company can experience significant improvements in a short period of time.  At Quality Manufacturing Associates, we train and consult on continuous quality improvements methods. Our clients have seen rapid improvements even before their initiative is fully implemented.

To help you take the first step, we would like to give you our abridged version of the presentation we have given to hundreds of clients – “5 Keys to Building Quality.”  It outlines the principles that are essential to build Quality in any organization.  Find out what other clients have said.  Contact us to help you accomplish important quality initiatives.

Your competition is improving their systems on a daily basis; so don’t wait, before it’s too late.

Request your free copy now5 Keys to Building Quality.

How to Start a Real World Lean Transformation by Live Simulation

 

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Visions of reducing inefficiencies for real-world Lean transformation in manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain operations are only the tip of the iceberg.   Imagine what a live workplace simulation workshop can do for your organization.

A couple of questions are often asked: “Why does anyone need Lean?” and “Would the time and expense of a live simulation workshop be justified?”

Let me answer this first question. If you’re not familiar, Lean is a continuous improvement initiative focused on providing customer value and eliminating waste from processes. The end result is a streamlined operation  able to deliver higher quality products on-time while using fewer resources.  For an explanation of Lean basics you may refer to an earlier blog article .

A live factory simulation workshop is a hands-on technique used for more than twenty years to demonstrate basic Lean concepts. The simulation mode brings in a fictitious operation to serve as a learning tool.  Simulation exercises are conducted to demonstrate different types of waste, and their elimination, as well as relate the techniques learned to “real world” scenarios.

The format of a simulation workshop is divided into several sections or rounds to represent each of the shifts (or days) of the fictitious production facility. Participants are part of the process – through every wheel, screw, and nut assembly. Much like a sports game that excites and draws everyone together to win, Lean simulation workshops have this same effect.

First round starts by intentionally demonstrating the chaos and waste commonly found in a traditional manufacturing environment. Lean principles are gradually introduced and practiced during the subsequent simulation rounds. Discussions open up to talk about what works well and what waste may be eliminated from the process.

Quality rejects, inventories, product quantities shipped, on-time delivery, and profit/loss are tracked and reviewed after each round, so that the effect of waste elimination is clearly identified and quantified.  The simulation continues to introduce the Lean tools and concepts during each round until the final round represents a Lean Enterprise.

At this point, the total benefit of the Transformation can be assessed.  In addition to improved customer satisfaction resulting from product quality and on-time delivery, other physical and financial benefits are demonstrated.  A Lean transformation involves cultural change, and therefore, essentially everyone in the organization should be part of the simulation exercises. Teamwork and the desire for continuous improvement are emphasized throughout the workshop.

Simulation materials may range from actual products like pens and switches to more whimsical demonstrations using Lego assemblies, wooden toys, and paper airplanes. The goal is still the same: eliminating waste. In fact, office simulations have, in a similar way, focused on the elimination of  paperwork and information capture not integral to business objectives.

One of the most difficult choices people have to make is to commit to starting this journey to implement Lean practices. Often the sentiment is that a simulation takes too much time.  In particular, one business owner recently told me “we don’t have the time to stop production to do that kind of training.”

Is there ever ‘the right time’? Most business people would suggest, now, more than ever, is the right time. To prove this point, a Lean transformation would realistically open up opportunities for business, improve the bottom line, and conserve time and expense. That is exactly what happens in a successful Lean transformation. The simulation workshop has become a necessary first step for a successful implementation.

The QMA network of quality experts offers workshops and facilitation to guide organizations on their Lean journey. We don’t claim to be visionaries or missionaries, just that we’re able to demonstrate the most cost effective ways to build more value into the business.

In our experience facilitating Lean transformations, a live simulation provides a higher level of understanding and fully engages employees in accomplishing these business goals through a successful Lean transformation.

The hands-on experience, combined with our in-depth Lean expertise and guidance, enables participants to relate their own “real-world” experience. And the round-to-round factual comparison of Lean practices and benefits, in my opinion, make simulations a superior method of preparing an organization for a successful Lean transformation.

One further note: Workshops of this kind would typically take a full day.

QMA has developed the “Zippy Toy Car” Simulation (another way to say we get it done quickly), a dynamic four-hour workshop of  three rounds that covers the most important concepts as compared to longer workshops.

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The Lean concepts you learn can be literally taken back to your workplace and practiced the same day. The shorter and dynamic format maintains a high level of energy while reducing the investment of time.

Our popular Lean Office simulation workshop takes place at the “Department of Approvals”, a simulated service organization workshop, participants progressively implement Lean tools to experience a transition from a traditional office setting to an efficient Lean service environment. Participants continuously track progress of improvements by collecting data in a report card and monitoring performance measures through each simulation. The workshop leads management and workforce teams through the application and use of Lean tools in making immediate process improvements.

Our training is designed for in-house delivery, but is periodically offered as a public workshop.  Our next workshop,co-sponsored by ASQ South Florida, is scheduled for April 20, 2012.  See our Events page for more details.

Have you experienced a Lean simulation?  Do you think it is worth the four hour investment and expense?

 

Lean: Is It All or Nothing?

Lean: Is It All or Nothing? – Manufacturing Executive Community- Question posted originally on: http://www.manufacturing-executive.com/message/2637

Enrique’s answer:

A company can often obtain small gains by utilizing the Lean tools.  For instance, using 5S to organize the shop floor results in immediate gains in productivity and accident prevention.  However, sustainability of the improvements depends on the last two steps “standardize” and “sustain”. This is where most organizations fail and where the development of a Lean culture is necessary.

The development of a Lean culture takes time, as Matt mentioned above.  As people start seeing the benefits of Lean, they will start getting involved in improvement efforts.  Lean is all about incremental improvements that add up over time.  If large gains are obtained initially, that is icing on the cake.

The emphasis should be on Continuous Improvement and waste elimination, not on cost savings (these will come soon enough).  Training, education and empowerment at all levels are also essential to developing a culture where waste elimination is an integral part of the organization.

Change

Change is the most frequently used buzzword these days. In the business world, the need for positive change has been widely recognized for many years. Change and its management has been the main ingredient in strategic thinking of successful organizations, whether in the form of continuous incremental improvement, or as innovation and breakthrough.

World-class organizations devote considerable time and effort deciding what needs to improve and how to effect positive change. Successful leaders of these organizations communicate a clear vision of what higher levels of performance are needed and are able to motivate others to achieve the goals and objectives necessary to realize that vision.

Transformational initiatives often fail for two main reasons:

  1. Lack of leadership vision and support
  2. Failure to obtain the commitment of all members of the organization

Providing a vision is necessary, but not sufficient for transformational success. If the resources needed to effect positive change are not provided or are removed at the first sign of a business slowdown, the initiative is destined to fail.

Without a cohesive long-term strategy, leadership’s attempts to implement an initiative may be perceived by the workforce as the “program of the month”.

The second element is one of inclusion of all members of the firm. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, not only adopted Six Sigma, but made it part of GE’s “DNA”.

Six Sigma became an integral part of how GE’s entire company operated. To make a leader’s vision reality, leaders must “sell” their vision to everyone in the organization. If the culture is to shift to one of greater empowerment, the employees need to believe that the leader is sincere and the change is real.

Some leaders may be motivated by the marketing advantage of “getting the piece of paper” for an ISO certification.  Rather than recognizing the benefits that can be derived by envisioning and wholeheartedly supporting change as means of improving their business, it is often viewed as a quick fix to resolve a specific situation.

Still, others see Lean Manufacturing, or other transformational methods, as a “magic wand” that can turn a dysfunctional company around without getting everyone involved and without recognizing that teamwork and a Continuous Improvement philosophy are necessary ingredients for positive sustainable change.

Throughout the world, companies that have been successful at implementing change have been characterized by those two elements:  a leader’s vision that has become a commitment by everyone in the organization. These companies are energized by the pursuit of a common organizational vision. In these companies, teams are commonly found as a method of investigating and solving problems and achieving goals.