When Looking into various systems of replenishment, there is no doubt that the Kanban system is at the top of every list. Although the ideal system in any Organization is true single piece flow, the Kanban system can help you to adjust buffers, trigger material before it is out and free up hundreds of thousands of dollars in company assets. We often times don't realize as much as 50% of an organization's assets are usually tied up somewhere in the supply chain, for that reason Kanban has become a go to system to solve many of the problems experienced by supply chain professionals.
The Kanban can be in the form of a card, bin or even just an empty space that has been clearly labeled and identified. the simplest way to explain the Kanban system is that when the Kanban is empty it acts as the "trigger" for replenishment. Grocery stores often times have Kanban systems in place to restock shelves or trigger the re-ordering of necessary supplies. Originally the Kanban system was a "Best in Class" benchmark that was observed by Taiichi Ohno while traveling in America.
Although the Kanban is a very effective way to control activities and production rates there are a few key elements that should be put in place that will help ensure the Kanban system is accepted and Successful.
1. Clearly Label your Kanban
Be sure that the System is clearly labeled with a part number or Stock Keeping Unit, if you are using a Bin make sure the Bin has been identified and the location for the bin is clearly marked.
2. No Min/Max Quantities
What? That's right the Quantity on the Kanban should be Clearly defined; There should be no minimum or maximum buy or produce ammount, what's on the card is the number.
3. Empty Kanban, replenish
Be sure that the Kanban is the trigger to replenish and that means the only trigger. It is important to note that no counting of any form should be required if the Kanban quantity has been properly figured.
4. All Kanbans should Maintain a 5S standard and Integrity
Keep the Kanban areas in proper 5S shape, you wouldn't want any sort of mixing and matching or confusion in the Kanban system. Maintaining a 5S standard will help to keep things Visual and Organized.
5. No Purchase Orders, None
This is an important element to Kanban that is often times overlooked but honestly is very powerful to the system. The whole purpose of Kanban is to create replenishment that in one way or another frees up resources and provides the activities, actions or product you need when you need it. The Kanban card should have the same authority as a purchase order and sets the quantity for the supplier to provide. While your looking at it another element that can help free up more resources is to batch your invoices on the back side.
Kanban can be a powerful system when properly implemented into an Organization, it works during high months and low months and cuts out a lot of Forecasting errors and Fluctuation in Supply and Demand. If you are interested in Receiving the Template shown above please feel free to touch base with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, we would also be happy to answer any additional questions you may have in stting up your Kanban system.
The Gold mine of Information Flow
The Seven deadly wastes come across our mind just about everyday. We can see Transportation on every street corner in Logistics, we witness waiting every time a community printer spits out 5 different pages and Defects in manufacturing become very obvious when the re-work has standard routings for repair operations, But how often do we stop and think about the Move, Wait or Queue of information flowing through your organization.
70% of all the waste found can typically be found in an office environment, but where do you look when you are discovering the office Waste? Well let's jump into this really quick with the hopes that today in your office you can discover new opportunities to move the bar up a little More.
First Let's start by clearly identifying the need to look with very narrow eyes when identifying Information waste. It is not uncommon for there to be no tangible evidence of the form of waste visible so that requires us to do some digging. Often times by going to the Gemba or following a Process from start to finish you can identify many points in the process where the Flow of Information Bottlenecks. Be aware to,that information waste does not always come from the Origin of Muda but often times will include the Origins of Mura and Muri; as with any other Gemba walk, be respectful and humble when walking informative process lines. So what do we want to look for?
Although we are looking for Information waste, the elements will be no different then Material waste. Information must be transported from one place to another and it is quite often placed in excessive inventory points like E-mails waiting to be read, notepads or excel sheets stashed on computers. Don't forget that any time information is transferred and the action can not be completed due to inaccurate information or information that was not be included it is very likely that you will see the wastes of Overprocessing and Defects following close behind.
Signs of Stress
Now let's admit, we don't always know how much everyone has on their plate or what they are dealing with on a daily basis, that doesn't mean you need to run out and become a therapist but if you find that someone is saying things like "I've got to run my email is full" or you see a worker plowing away through lunch and breaks there is a good possibility that they are both a hard worker and they are experiencing what we know as Overburden, It won't be long before the gas runs dry. This is a great opportunity to see just how much is being placed in other people's lap there may be opportunities for some load leveling or balancing of the line, nevertheless these always working always rushing moments are often a sign that some origin of waste is creeping behind the rushing actions.
How long does the Value-added activity take?
Value added activities are the element of Work that we do that Transforms the activity being completed. This applies to Information flow too. if you look deep enough you will come to understand that there are some information; may be services that a customer is willing to pay for. You will also see that Information can be Transformed too. One example would be looking at the Inputs of a process and asking "Is the Information that's going in Transforming this point of the Value stream?" When we actually see that often times cutting the PO, sending the email, or having a conversation doesn't take that long we discover that the added time usually lurks in the realm of Non-Value. This is a good opportunity to take a look at the Information going in to the value added activity and what it is producing or the Output.
These are only a few key elements to finding and discovering opportunities to Transform processes by attacking information; Some other ways may require analyzation of ERP/MRP systems, evaluating what metrics are driving and searching through word documents, excel sheets and powerpoint presentations and every other network drive or connection you can imagine, the point is attacking Information flow will yield hidden gold and provide many opportunities for Kaizen.
Keeping Takt of Time
The Alarm Clock goes off, you hit the snooze button and go back to sleep for a little bit, then it goes off 5 minutes later and you realize, "Oh my goodness, I'm Late!" So you start to rush panicking that you might show up late for the "big meeting." Finally you arrive at the office, jump out of your car and reach for your briefcase, your briefcase? Oh no, you've forgotten your briefcase. Well hopefully this wasn't the start of anybody's morning but to be quite honest it happens all the time in Kaizen Events, Projects or daily work activities. Nobody Keeps Takt of the time.
Takt time is the rate at which we need to complete our work, but most importantly it is the rate in which we need to complete our work according to the Customers demand and there needs. In essence Takt time can be compared to the way a heartbeats; the heart keeps pace or beat in order to provide our body with the necessary blood and oxygen it needs. What happens when it falls off pace? You get light headed, miss a step or worse yet come to a complete stop. Just like our body falling out of beat if we have no Takt time or precise interval of time it becomes much harder to tell when something is not operating at quite the rate it needs to be. Here are a few simple tips for Calculating and using Takt time to your advantage.
1. Assess where you are at
It goes without saying but if you are doing work there is a time figure you can use to assess the current situation. You may be able to pull data from your ERP/MRP system or take the Gemba approach; Grab your stopwatch set up an excel sheet and start gathering some times (cycle, process, lead). Be sure that the data you gather is in alignment with your objective.
2. Where is it you need to be?
This is the exciting point where we ask ourselves at what rate does our Heart need to beat in order for the customer to continue circulating a healthy amount of blood into the organization? Let's start with how we figure out the Takt Time. You will want to find out exactly what the customer demand is Per day (internal or external) and you will need to define how much "available time" there is in the work day (i.e. 1 shift 8 hours, 2 shifts 16). Once you have these two pieces of Information you can now figure the Takt time.
Let's look at an example of How we can figure Takt. Let's Say Our Customer wanted 100 pieces per day(keep in mind the pieces don't have to be actual materials they may be services or activities that are not so tangible) and our shift was exactly 8 hours or 480 minutes with no downtime and no breaks or lunches (breaks, lunches and downtime should be figured into your available time if you have them, and we hope you do) that would mean that each piece needs to be made in 4.8 minutes to keep up with the customer demand.
3. If there is a Gap identify it If not Support it
Now you can probably tell it would be very clear if we were meeting takt time or not (compare current as is situation to the Takt time). If you are not meeting the Takt time we suggest Identifying the Gap and any of the Contributing issues so that you can make a plan in order to reach the Takt time. As with anything else set your team up to win try to give them goals they can meet and inch your way to meeting the Takt time. If there is no Gap continue to support the crew's efforts and reward their hard work and labor.
4. Post It
Once you have defined the rate at which you need to complete activities, it will be to your advantage to make everyone aware of the Takt time, You can post it on Huddle boards attach it to a meter or any other way you want, the point is make it Visual. The purpose of making the Takt time Visual is that you can remove barriers as they pop up, remember we are here to "Support" the team in accomplishing their goal not monitor, spy, or tattle on one another. One way you can do this is by observing when the activity has fallen off pace, you can then identify the contributing issues and remove the Root Causes.
Not having a Takt time can cause you to be late for work, forget items in the hurry to make up time or place unnecessary burdens on individuals. Though it may not be quite as obvious to you if you are not involved in the activity, having a Takt time established will allow you to identify abnormalities and see lines or processes that may be out of balance. Just like any other Origin of Waste once we identify those abnormalities we remove them. Well you all better get back to work; If you need any support in keeping Takt of time feel free to email email@example.com, we would be happy to support. Let's make this week the week where you establish and keep Takt of at least one of your times. We would love to hear about your experience in doing it.
These People are like my Kids.
A Few Weeks back you might have watched a video we titled Single Piece Flow Mastered by Children, In the video a 6 and 8 year old reduce a process time by well over 60% and they have quite a bit of fun while performing the "Kaizen" too. Drive by any school or sit and watch a child play at the park and those children will teach you a little bit about life and how we should live it. But they too learned how to live life from somewhere. Maybe a parent, Maybe a teacher, a good morale leader or just somebody they admire. One way or another they were taught by someone at some point; As we grow older in "experience" and more seasoned with life we transition from School to work and now we must earn a living and we must try to survive in this world. If we take a look back on our life and for just one second and think about our own personal childhood or the children we do our best to teach we can see that those same children are our fellow employers, our bosses, or the people who work for us; It's true "These people are like my Kids."
With that thought in mind, let's ask a question, "what have I taught the people I work with today?" Sometimes in our transition to work we miss a great opportunity to develop the people around us. Like children every experience in life is an opportunity to teach them some principle of life and much the same in our work every experience is a "Call to lead and guide" somebody to learn, improve or perform their Job duty. We're not suggesting that Employees are like children although it may feel this way at times, but we are hinting that there may be some power in seeing our fellow workers in the Same Light as our children.
Communicate often with them
Can you remember every holiday morning when you or your children would wake up excited and ready for the adventures of the day? Probably the first thing you did was go and give your caretaker a hug and all though it might have been early in the morning you just wanted to share your excitement. As leaders and developers of others we should make it one of our days goals to promote that same excitement in those we work with. whether it is a morning huddle or an employee just coming up to say "hello" these are opportunities to give them energy for the day and get to know them. Best of all it can be done in under 5 minutes, but the results will last just as long if not longer than the memories of a holiday morning.
Reflect, then say goodnight
Families all across the world meet at dinner tables, bedside or on couches to catch up and answer the question "How was your day?" One purpose for this universal question is to show that you genuinely care about how somebody's day was. Do we do the same for those that we work with? A simple walk to the Gemba at the end of the day can create a powerful opportunity to Reflect on the day and politely say goodnight. It will also create an opportunity to reveal how there life is going and how you can support them in their tasks at work. Hansei the Japanese practice of Reflection can be very powerful when performed as a team and in a one to one conversation.
Give them Opportunities to Learn and see them as you would see your Children
See them as you would see your Children? That's crazy, right? Maybe, but do you remember the moment you held a little baby in your arms and thought to yourself "What is the most important thing I could teach this Child that will help them succeed?" Like that moment if we give our employees opportunities to learn and skills to be successful, they will inherit a desire to grow in many different ways. Let's take as food for thought the employee who always has something to say. It is a given that person has a desire to talk and to be heard so maybe with a little guidance and coaching that person is the perfect facilitator for your next Kaizen event. Or How about the employee who is always coming to you with "problems," well maybe he's the one who needs to know how to Value Stream Map, Root Cause or Kick off a Charter. When we see people for who they could be much like we see children we in essence define the vision for them which makes it much easier to help guide them in that direction.
Just as Children grow up in the world, fellow employees grow up in Careers. When we take opportunities to teach one another and support daily continued development we create a Culture that makes for a much more productive and fun "Playground Environment." Ponder this idea if you will that we have a responsibility to support and develop one another in the same manner that we develop our children, When we see each other as who we could, can and will be we become true leaders and support the notion that "These people are like my Kids" and I have a responsibility to develop them.
Waiting for Implementation......
One of the Most common thoughts or comments that we have heard over the past year has been "We are waiting for our ERP implementation to stabilize then we are going to look at Lean." While multiple Strategic Initiatives can certainly be a scary thought one without the other may leave you feeling like a crash test dummy.
In the Most general sense of the topic we can assume that ERP/MRP focuses on the Information side of a Value Stream. We all know that Job Shop and Intermittent manufacturing environments produce an obscure amount of information waste and certainly being able to automate and supercharge that part of the Value Stream can and will produce great results for any user if their efforts are aligned correctly. But let's play with the idea for one second, If a car is crashed into a wall with a supercharger, does the result change? Well most likely yes, the damage is much more severe than if it was traveling at a reasonable rate. Similar to this concept ERP/MRP without Lean often times sends information flow slamming into a brick wall. It helps to understand that everything even information is susceptible to a Takt time in one respect or another. Infact often times when activities are performed at a faster rate than they should be we begin to make visible the wastes of Mura and Muri, which in turn causes an organization to fall even more out of alignment.
Likewise it is often Visible when companies attack the Value Stream with such activities as Cycle time reduction and SMED projects but do not address the issues that naturally come with any ERP/MRP implementation, you know the garbage in garbage out principle, you inadvertently create materials that are not as accurately tracked leaving KPI's and Metrics susceptible to inaccuracy. Although Agile concepts can be applied to Networks and Enterprise/Material resource planning systems Organizations most often don't address these major systemic issues. Just think for a second MRP gives us time phased requirements which suggest to the user what they need to produce to fulfill current demand, but these requirements are often driven by inaccurate lead times, non existent wait times and cycle times that aren't even estimated well. The point is this Information side of the Value Stream can receive Lean Concepts and principles too, but only if we address it.
One other Key element that often get's set aside is that information in ERP/MRP is either "informative" or action orientated. What does this mean? Well, we check the system to either gather information and "check things out" or we check the system to receive "exceptions." Exceptions are action orientated promptings that suggest to us something needs to be done, keep in mind these exceptions are based on various elements of data that is placed in the ERP system, if this information is not correct the exceptions may/will create additional waste in an Organization.
In Summary, MRP/ERP applications can and will yield powerful Turbocharged results in many different ways, however unlike Lean it is our stance that it may leave you feeling like a crash test dummy when the initiative is implemented without Lean Strategy and Tactics. MRP/ERP may tell you if a product has become discrepant, sits for to long, or needs to be released, but it will not prevent quality issues like Poka Yoke, It will not correct the exception based message without action and certainly if a routing, process or bill of material is incorrect ERP/MRP can not correct it unless there is action by the user. Although you may end up with a powerful "System" in place quite certainly if the "System" in terms of Organizational system does not have standards and a Culture of Continuous Improvement you will certainly at one point or another slam into a wall.
Push Or Pull?
Try and push a chain from one side of the room to the other, What happens? Now take that same chain and pull it from one side of the room to the other, Now what happens? You might have experienced what is shown in the picture above. When we try to push the chain it tangles, coils and eventually bunches up to where the links move rather inefficiently. But if we pull the chain from one side to the other, the links become tight and move at the pull of the chain. This analogy is very much the same as a work environment. Let's take a deeper look at each one of these systems and Find out exactly what is so great about the Pulling Concept.
The push system has been used for years in traditional manufacturing and forecasting environments, we see it fairly frequently in Make to Stock environments, although not 100% make to stock businesses are Push Systems only. The easiest way to understand what a Push system actually is, is to think of it this way.... In a push system there is no Order attached to the Product, that means that we make the product prior to any demand being created. As you may have guessed this requires very accurate forecasting techniques and often times can create a severe "bullwhip effect" as the forecasting travels up the supply chain. The other element as you can imagine that can distinguish a push system is the direction that Information flows through the Value Stream. In the Push environment information and product chases after the customer in hopes of attaching a sales order to the system in some way shape or form.
As you can probably imagine two of the most notable forms of waste associated with a push system are Overproduction and Excess Inventory although quite honestly any time product is produced before an order is maintained there is much more waste than that in the value stream. Often times in a true Push system there are absolutely no limits on the amount of Work In Progress which as you may have guessed creates a lot of unbalanced workload and unnecessary burdens on your team.
Even though the Push system tends to get a bad rap nowadays there are a few benefits to the Push system however the benefits really almost never outweigh the costs when you dig deep into it.
As you may have imagined in our Chain experiment there are many advantages to a Pull system or a "demand" driven Organization. The first that you may have been able to visualize dragging your chain around is that the chain tightens and the links stay in line, much like the chain when you pull the work down through the supply chain often times it is much easier to keep your "links" in line.
The pull system is only activated by a Customer order, which means that the large majority of WIP has an order attached to it in one way or another. One Example of a pull system might be in a Kanban system, when one bin is empty it triggers the production or replenishment of that item in "need". Essentially the Pull system is set up for items that in one way or another have a "Customer Order" attached to them. Keep in mind that although the Kanban system is an easy way to understand a pull system the goal is not Kanban the goal should always be true one piece flow.
True Pull set's limitations based on customer desires and the demand being driven, if there is no limitations in place there is a good chance that you may be looking at a push system.
To Push or Pull? that is the question, Ideally we always want to create what the customer wants and has committed to, but often times it's not either or, it is when? You see most environments are at some point in the overall system push and then transition into pull. The point at which this happens is a strategic decision that an Organization must decide on. One Key element in deciding where the transition happens is in the visibility that other partners have, that one element can help the switch from push to pull much easier. Remember too, that in a push system you are paying all the time with no guarantee of repayment so if at all possible try to pull much more than you push.
Overall the widely accepted better practice certainly is a Pull system, So why is it that so many people still push in today's day and age? Well there are quite a few reasons why, next week we will talk about a few elements of Inventory control and why some companies still operate on somewhat of a "pushy" basis.
Why do we Value Stream Map?
Although We don't Often notice it, a "Value Stream" has a flow much like the Stream you see in the photo above. The Concept of a "Value Stream" is easily understood in this analogy. Let's imagine for a second that you have clearly defined "What Value is", those elements in the Stream are the Water. Water is the Value added elements of your Value Stream or your product or service that a customer is willing to pay for, is made right the first time and is being transformed in some way.
As you may have guessed, in any Value Stream there are some "rocks in the water". Those rocks are the activities that impede the efficient flow of the Value Stream. They Could be Muda like the photo Shown below
Or they Could come from one of the other two Origins of Waste Mura and Muri. None the Less those Rocks that you see are Waste in the Value Stream. They are the elements in your shop or Office that are causing late deliveries, poor quality, frustrating processes and resources that aren't doing quite as much as they could be. Often times the rocks do not rise all the way to the top of the water, you know we see it everyday so we "work around" or "deal with" it, but they still impede the flow of the Value Stream. This is one of the main reasons we use "Value Stream Mapping", so that we can make those "Rocks" or inefficiencies in the process rise to the top and become completely visible.
One other Key element to a Value Stream Map that can be quite powerful is that it has the unique ability to capture both Information inefficiencies and Material Inefficiencies. This can be quite important as you might not realize the queue time of an email until it becomes visible.
As we begin to map multiple "Value Streams" we start to understand how each Stream begins to affect the Ocean and what the interaction between the multiple Streams is like in relation to the overall system.
Finally we get to a place where the entire system is Understood and we can now begin to plan the most efficient route forward. This part takes a great deal of time to get to and much effort too, but the results that Value Stream Mapping can bring certainly are worth the efforts. One by one you remove all the rocks in the water and eventually you look back on a well balanced, gushing stream of water or shall we say gushing "Stream of Value."
Try it out today, Map a Process out you never know, you may end up removing an entire dam.....
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