I haven’t written much about error proofing in my several years of blogging about lean manufacturing. When I teach, I don’t go into error proofing much. The primary reason is that error proofing is (to my way of thinking, at any rate) very specific to a particular task, activity, or process. When I’ve looked at literature about error proofing, specific examples relevant to specific equipment or tasks are given. I always find myself thinking, “That’s great…if one has that type of equipment or is carrying out that particular task.”
In our last post, we talked a bit about 5S audits and argued that teams of operators should self-audit their own areas rather than having “external” audits conducted. In this post, we’ll go over the process for teaching teams how to audit themselves. I’ve also provided a download of the form I use for all this.
We all know that an important part of sustaining 5S is auditing or assessing the status of 5S at any given point in time. The internet is full of 5S audit forms. In many cases, audits are carried out by “outsiders”…folks from outside the department that’s being audited. It’s kind of like being back at school where we turned our test in and got back a grade. If the grade was good, we were relieved. If the grade was bad, we huffed indignantly, sure that the teacher had it in for us. 5S audits shouldn’t be like that.
I just got another article posted on Industry Week’s website. Here it is:
Hope you like it.
OK, first I want you to watch ten seconds of this video.
One of my favorite lean videos was produced and put on YouTube a couple of years ago by a company in Washington state, FastCap. The video is about 14 minutes long and it’s a tour of the FastCap plant, conducted by the President. It’s the best portrayal of workplace organization and visual factory that I’ve come across.
So, at this point, you have a pretty good value stream map of your current state. I doubt if it looks as neat as the one I included in my last post. In fact, it probably looks more like this:
Example Value Stream Map (Sorry it’s a link instead of an actual diagram. It’s a PDF, as you’ll see, and this is the only way I could include it.)
You’ll see the addition of the Tool Room and Purchasing, lots of places that material sits, lots of people who need to see the Production Schedule, and a “contingency routing” which was used when the equipment in the “preferred routing” was down. (You’ll also see a Future State VSM but don’t pay any attention to that for now.) That’s how these things go…they can get messy. This VSM team met twice a week for about six weeks to get just the current state map completed. Again, that’s how these things go.
We ended up last time with a simple map that showed, basically, where stuff gets moved, where stuff gets something done to it, and where stuff sits waiting to be moved or have something done to it. So, we’re off to a good start. Now, we need to add some boxes and arrows that show where information moves or sits or is acted on.
OK, so enough talk about boxes and arrows and lets put something on paper. We have a couple of decisions to make before we get started. First, we need to decide just which process to map. It might be that all the products in your operation go through the same process; that makes it easy to decide which process to map doesn’t it? In most cases, though, different products go through different processes. So, you have to pick one to map. (In many cases, you’ll have groups of products that go through a similar processes. If that’s your case, think of creating a process map for a group of products.) Now, I’ve read books that recommended an approach to picking a product or product group to map that involved lots of data gathering and calculations before making a decision. I don’t think it’s that hard. All you have to do is carry on a discussion that addresses these questions:
- Which products/product groups are high volume?
- Which products/product groups are high margin?
- Which products/product groups are important for some other reason, e.g., important new product?
- Which products/product groups are giving us the most problems?
If you have a product/product group that hits two or three of these criteria, go with that one. If none of your products hit more than one criterion, pick whichever product you want to start with, then move on to the others. Then do like we said last time, start with the customer and discuss their needs and the outputs that meet those needs. Then talk about the suppliers and your standards for what they provide.
OK, now you’re ready to connect those boxes and arrows.
Take a look at this example of 5S. What do you think….good example or not? It sure looks good, doesn’t it? I found this example on LinkedIn, along with some comments as to whether or not it’s a good example. Some of the commenters felt it was a good example given that…well, how orderly everthing is. Others felt that it’s not such a good example and it’s not the lack of labeling that they mentioned. Those others asked if five colors of highlighters are really needed. And two different kinds of Post-Its. And two blue and red pens. After all the first S is “Sort”.
I would agree that the Sort is key here but we can’t use circumstantial evidence to assume it wasn’t done. If the user really does need and regularly uses all those highlighters, then it’s a good example of 5S. On the other hand, if the user generally just takes out the yellow one and keeps the others “just in case”, it’s just an exercise in tidiness. Same with the pens and Post-Its.
The moral of the story is, it’s not just the good organization that makes this a good example. It’s the deliberation that went into the effort along the way