Tag Archives: lean manufacturing

Zippy is Back!


In case you missed us last time – check out our introductory video of the Zippy Car Workshop!

Public Workshop 

This dynamic four hour workshop enables participants to learn the basic principles of Lean Manufacturing in a no-risk environment. Principles are taught in the classroom and then practiced in a hands-on factory simulation.

In three successive factory simulation rounds the participants convert a traditional factory to a Lean factory environment. Facilitators track the quality and financial metrics from round to round to show the benefits to be derived from a Lean Transformation.

The Lean principles are explained so that its benefits can also be applied to office, service and other non-manufacturing environments.

For a more detailed description you can visit our events page  or watch the brief introductory video.

In-House Workshop

Zippy is available for in-house delivery at your site. For a quote, email Enrique Bekerman, emb109@aol.com.

How to Start a Real World Lean Transformation by Live Simulation



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.


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.

Lean Manufacturing Basics

Lean Manufacturing grew out of the Toyota Production System or TPS. Today, Lean Manufacturing is most often referred to as Lean with its concepts and techniques being applied to many fields outside of manufacturing in sectors such as:

  • Financial
  • Health
  • Services

Lean Manufacturing roots go back to Henry Ford in the USA, but the techniques were developed and refined in Japan.

James Womack and colleagues brought these concepts back to the USA after studying the Toyota methods, then coined and popularized the term “Lean Manufacturing.”  Lean is characterized by speed– better, cheaper and faster–and its’ focus on customer demand. By zeroing on what the customer wants and when he wants it, Lean teaches the wastefulness of excess inventories and their impact on responsiveness.

Toyota developed the system called “Just in Time” or JIT that provides for delivery of parts and components just at the time they are needed. JIT is applied internally to reduce work-in-process inventories and externally to reduce raw material inventories deliverd by suppliers.

Waste Elimination is the underlying principle of Lean. Waste is equivalent to non-value added activities.  According to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, 95% of an organization’s activities do not add any value to the product or service provided. By reducing or eliminating these non-value-adding wasteful activities, more time is spent on those activities that do provide a  value-added benefit to the customer.

Eight types of waste are recognized that are generally present in most organizations:

  1.  Excess Inventories: above and beyond what is needed
  2.  Over-processing: putting more effort than is required
  3.  Over-production: Making more product than is needed by the next operation or customer
  4.  Transportation: moving the product in the plant or to the customer
  5.  Excessive Worker Motions: unnecessary motions that add time and can cause injuries
  6.  Defects/Errors: cause rejects and rework
  7.  Waiting: for parts, deliveries, approvals, and
  8.  Underutilized Workers: not using the full physical, emotional and intellectual capabilities of workers

The typical approach to eliminating waste is to decide on a product line family that shares the same operations or resources. All the activities (both value-added and non-value-added) are mapped in sequence. The characteristics of each operation are recorded such as cycle time and downtime. These series of activities is called a Value Stream and the map is called a Value Stream Map or VSM. After the Value Stream Map of the Current State is plotted, the team brainstorms the elimination of wastes that become apparent on the map and depicts a Future State that eliminates these wastes.

Kaizens (to-make-better) are concentrated improvement efforts that enable arriving at the Future State. In Japan, work groups often conduct these exercises on a daily basis looking for daily or “continuous” improvements of their processes. In the USA, it is more common to use a Kaizen Blitz in which a team devotes concentrated effort over a few days to obtain some of the improvements needed to arrive at the Future State.

These events could concentrate on material/information flow, inventory reduction and defects elimination. A 5S event is a special type of Kaizen that deals with Workplace Organization. 5S will be discussed in a later article.

Lean uses the eight wastes mentioned above as symptoms of the underlying root cause for the problems. For instance, excess inventories may be an indication of unbalanced workloads, machine breakdowns, misunderstood customer requirements, and unreliable suppliers.

As Lean has been adopted in other fields analogous examples of waste can be found.

Excess Inventories

  • Patients waiting in the emergency room
  • Large number of loan applications waiting to be processed


  • Excess copies or blueprints
  • Extra tests not contributing to diagnosis
  • Designs including features not required


  • Making more product than is needed or wanted


  • Excessive trips to deliver prescriptions to in-patients
  • Scheduling more face-to-face meetings than needed

Excessive Worker Motions

  • Reaching
  • Bending
  • Poor ergonomics


  • Prescription errors
  • Misreading blueprints


  • For parts or components
  • Searching for tools or documents
  • Waiting for loan approvals
  • Waiting for doctor prescriptions

Underutilized Workers

  • People watching a machine or each other work
  • Not engaging employees in problem detection and solution

Being on the lookout for the evidence of waste provides a starting point for the investigation of the root causes and for finding solutions to the problems. Lean focuses on the customer and the organization’s performance in meeting the customer demand and customer quality requirements.