Lean in government office environment

Below is an article written by Jenny Eliuk for the “Lean for your organization” contest. This article is special for me. I know how difficult it is to get something done from government institutions. This article is about implementing some simple concepts of lean in the government office environment. Some of the things done in this implementation were exiting. Educating the customer to make him prepared, using simple color codes to improve productivity and looking at the bigger picture when evaluating the results (taking the reduction of carbon emissions into consideration for an example) and emphasis given to make things simpler to make it efficient(I myself have written an article on this topic) are really impressive. This implementation is a great example of how some simple changes can make huge difference to the results. Below is the original article:

How I would use Lean to add value to my organization

As the new Development Review Coordinator for the Town of Vail, Colorado, I see many opportunities to apply Lean tools, strategies and values to reduce waste and increase effectiveness of our development review process. I am particularly excited about applying Lean to government, which has had very little exposure as an industry, yet will reap so many benefits I can hardly stand the anticipation. I aspire for the Town of Vail to become an industry leader and to set precedents applying Lean to government.

Our development review process is typical of most jurisdictions: land use applications precede building permit applications, and so on. Since I started in this position in May, some processes have stood out to me as areas for improvement. For example, we issue separate building, mechanical and plumbing permits for construction of a new house, even though we do the entire plan review for all systems when the building permit is applied for. This is a system developed many moons ago when unions were more heavily involved and each sub-contractor required their own permit. Nowadays, the general is responsible for the overall project, so there is no benefit to separate permits (note: separate electrical permits are required because they must be issued to a licensed electrician). It just adds a lot more paperwork, confusion, and trips by separate sub-contractors to our office. By issuing a combination building permit, we will be able to significantly reduce waste and increase ease and effectiveness of inspections on site (since the inspectors will have one comprehensive list on one permit). By reducing trips to our office by the subs, we actually will be reducing carbon emissions too.

As we know, small, continuous improvements over time can greatly impact an organization. One of the first things I did as Development Review Coordinator is organize all of our forms and handouts in a file cabinet at the front service counter, categorized, labeled and colour-coded. The previous system was some clear wall files randomly stocked, with only about one third of all handouts. Since nothing was labeled, if one became empty, it was anybody’s guess as to which form we should re-stock in that file. I also created brightly coloured kanban for each handout, so when we get to the last few, whoever comes upon the kanban takes it to our secretary who re-stocks the right item in the right quantity. This means we never run out of a handout, only to discover it as a customer is standing in front of us.

Standardized work is something we think of as internal, however providing checklists and informative guides to customers is just as important and effective. Our current building permit application packet has an incomplete and incorrect checklist that I find difficult to read, and provides no additional information an applicant really needs to know. Since it’s incorrect, it becomes difficult even for staff to know what the real requirements are, and to enforce them properly. Once I discovered the inaccuracies I began creating new submittal packets that are clear, correct, and informative. Both staff and customers will all be able to work from the same documents without confusion, and we’ll be better prepared to enforce requirements that we’re educating customers about up-front. No more surprises! I also expect to see a dramatic increase in the number of complete applications with quality plans that we can accept the first time they attempt to apply because we’ve explained everything in writing.

My exposure to Lean has been very limited and autodidactic. As part of a start-up modular housing manufacturer in Washington State, Lean and TPS were introduced to us, even if not actually demonstrated by leadership. The day I was laid off with half the office staff, “respect for people” didn’t seem to be at the top of the list as it was purported to us when hired. Regardless, my year in manufacturing and studying Toyota has been invaluable to my reintroduction to the public sector. I am enthusiastic to educate my co-workers while eliminating waste and frustration for us and our customers. My belief is that when you make things easier, you also make them more likely to be done correctly as you can concentrate on the real work versus the processing.

Jenny Eliuk

Being Religious with 5S and Standard Work

I got below article from Tuan Newlin for the “lean for your organization” contest. I was very impressed. When we talk about lean manufacturing and tools used with it like 5S we think about large factories offices etc. but we forget how much of time and effort these simple techniques can save in our day to day life. This implementation of 5S happens in a church to solve one of their day to day problems. Results are impressive. Thanks Tuan for sharing your story with us. Below is his article.

Working in children’s ministry at my church, Pine Hills Church , and seeing the waste that goes on behind the scenes made me want to act.

The areas of concern included storage, setup/breakdown procedures, and paperwork.

Our children’s ministry is held in our gym.

The storage room was filled, or at least looked filled, to capacity with who know what besides the sound, lighting and staging for our children’s program.

The procedure of setting up, tearing down and storage was different for each person and ran 60 minutes or more to set up and 45 minutes to break down.

Procedures for signing in, forms to fill out, security procedures and pick up were not documented and execution different each Sunday.

I sat down with the Youth Pastor and Coordinator and looked at the process. We came up with procedures, policies and paperwork that were thorough, flexible and clear. This led to reduced forms, consistent training, better security, and reduced floor space.

My next step was to tackle the storage area. The closet is a 20’ x 10’ room that was to be used for children’s ministry only. There were times that we could barely shut the doors after putting the equipment away.

Upon sorting, I found that it housed old props, broken toys, boxes of old costumes, and unused music equipment that were left over from when the gym was used temporarily for church service.

After 3 hours of sorting, setting in order and shinning, I set up a procedure to keep the closet maintained and created a layout of were all equipment is to be stored. I laid out a “red tag” area in one area of the closet for the youth pastor to decide disposition of the unused, broken or misc. stuff I found. I was able to free up 33% of the closet from these simple steps and should be 50% once the disposition of the “red tag” area is finished.

Lastly, the setup and teardown procedure needed organized. I asked the other helpers what are the minimal needs for setting up the audio/visual equipment? I then removed all the extra extension cords, audio wires, microphones and the like. I then made a procedure complete with a diagram of the gym. I organized the cords and cables together in a central location.

Through the application of lean principles we were able to achieve a reduction of setup time to 30 minutes (included putting up a stage), tear down of less than 20 minutes, storage room increase of 33%, an increase in training and execution proficiency, reduction in paperwork and overall consistency.

Lean Manufacturing in AC vents manufacturing – Part 2

This is the part 2 of this series. Read Part 1 first

Observations are consolidated, reviewed and following actions are defined using different tools (Cause & Effect Diagram, IS / IS Not, Situation Mapping, differentiating between Value Added & Non Value Added operations & assembly specific requirements):

  1. Operations F G & H can be combined to 1 operation, hence reducing 2 operations.
  2. Operations K L & M can be combined to 1 operation, hence reducing 2 operations.
  3. Training to operator for in-process inspection in there respective cell. Self certified parts leave from the respective cell.
  4. List of value added operation & Non value added operations made.
  5. Many Inspection stages – Operation C / E / G / J /L /N are inspection stages – it is observed that independent inspection stages not required after every stage as they are non value added operations – build the concept of self certifying the parts. Hence reducing the stages from 6 to 2 (Only 2 critical stages are maintained, these are considered as Required Non value added operations), hence reducing 4 operations.
  6. Movement of operators & line stoppage can be avoided by adding an additional person to monitor the stock in the bins and refill as and when required as that in super market. This shall be maintained by implementation of KANBAN cards.
  7. Considering to Balance the process /operation time where a ever possible.

Considering all the above points’ modifications following activities are done:

  • Modification in assembly fixtures initiated to combine the operation.
  • Unwanted inspection stages are eliminated and modifications done in the existing 2 stages to ensure that all the product requirements are inspected.
  • Assembly cells re-structured and finally the Present layout mapping as below is achieved. (Following layout is achieved)

Work Cell - After Implementation of leanIMPROVED SITUATION OF AIR VENT ASSEMBLY LINE

Following are the cycle time for the improved process:

Leveled Production (Heijunka)
Observations after the process re-structuring:

  1. First piece from comes out after only 204 sec from the start of assembly line.
  2. Thereafter time required 68 sec / part.
  3. Person added to refill the bins – hence no stoppage of assembly for refilling of parts.
  4. Manpower used 8 operators + 1 person for refilling the parts = 9 nos
  5. Overtime not required.
  6. Unnecessary stages are eliminated.
  7. Stages / Cycle time is tried for balancing however there is a scope for lot of balancing.
  8. Some Inventory still exists at T-U / V-W operations.
  9. Supervisor is more confident to meet customer requirements.
  10. Maximum Non value added operations eliminated.
  11. In the existing situation 415 parts can be produced against the requirement of 400 / day.
  12. Space utilized is reduced to 7.2 x 2.2 meters.

Quantifiable Benefits are as follows:

  1. First and foremost benefit customer requirement can be meet in the normal working hours. Hence the sales increased from the normal shift working without any overtime.
  2. Increase in production quantity from 307 to 415, generating the spare capacity for 15 nos extra.
  3. Reduction of manpower from 15 to 9 nos. Hence the savings of 6 x 6000 = 36000 INR ($900) / month
  4. Overtime payment is nil i.e. the direct saving of $ 805 / month
  5. Overtime 2.2 hrs x 15 operators x 37.5 INR = 1237.5 / day
  6. 1237.5 INR x 26 working days = 32175 INR / month ($805)
  7. Hence the total direct savings per annum is $ 900 + $ 805 = $ 1705 / month x 12 months = $20460 p.a.
  8. Inventory level is reduced, however not eliminated.
  9. Spare space of 4.3 x 1.1 meters generated.
  10. This study has helped to learn more on improvement and to implement on other assembly line.

Lean Manufacturing in AC vents manufacturing – Part 1

As promised in lean for our organization contest, I am publishing one of the good quality articles sent by one of our readers in a series of two articles. You will be able to incorporate these learning in your lean manufacturing efforts. Thanks for Satish the author of this article.

Lean Implementation:

Brief Introduction: Hi , I am Satish N Ladwa from India, I am into supplier performance engineering in an Automotive company which is into the manufacturing of Instrument panel Assemblies(4 wheeler dash board) for OEM’s , department name itself indicates my main role , i.e. to improve the suppliers performance in terms of Quality , Cost & delivery.

Problem Definition:

Refer the below snap shot of the product, this is the Air vent sub- assembly (Air Vents are the outlet for the AC in the car) used in the Instrument Panel Assembly. Air Vent parts are plastic injection molded & assembled at supplier end. This assembly contains 21 individual parts.

Requirement of this assembly is 400 nos / day; however in the existing established assembly line only 305 to 310 parts can be assembled in the normal 8 hour working shift. Many a times this has resulted in stoppage of customer line.

Air Vent - Product Manufactured (Changed to avoid any copyright issues)
The Original Picture sent by the author was changed to any Copyright Issues

Waste Categories:
– 2.2 hrs of over time for 15 people + 1 Supervisor.
– 15 people needed to run the assembly line.
– Inventory observed at intermediate stages.
– Through put time more.
– Unable to meet customer requirements.

Causes: To understand the cause for the delays in supplies 2 days where spent on assembly line to study all operation and material flow. Considering the detail observation the existing situation is plotted (refer below layout) along with records of cycle time, resource requirements, space requirement etc.

Work place arrangement before lean manufacturingPROBLEMATIC SITUATION OF AIR VENT ASSEMBLY LINE

Following are the Cycle Time Details

 Cycle Time Variation And Non Leveled Production (Non Heijunka)

Observations are:

  1. First piece from comes out only after 361 sec from the start of assembly line.
  2. Thereafter time required 85sec / part.
  3. After every 100 nos operator found to leave there place to re-fill there bins with parts to continue with assembly, hence line stops for 10 mins
  4. After every ~2 hrs.
  5. Manpower used 15 nos.
  6. Overtime paid for ~2.2 hrs.
  7. Unnecessary stages are added hence consuming more time / manpower and space.
  8. Stages / Cycle time is not balanced.
  9. Inventory observed in-between A-B / E-F / J-K operations.
  10. Supervisor is always under pressure to meet customer requirements.
  11. In the existing situation only 307 parts can be produced against the requirement of 400 / day.
  12. Existing space utilized is 11.5 x 3.3 meters.

Read Part 2 Of this Post

Implementing Lean manufacturing in our Organization – Part 3

This is the Part 3 of this series. If you have not read the Part 1 and Part 2 please read by clicking the links

If you have anything to say, Please leave a comment by clicking on the “Comments” link at the bottom of the post
5) Bottleneck Management
To ensure the bottleneck process (define as any part of the enterprise that limits the throughput of the whole process) is not being affected by other variables, Bottleneck management process is crucial – this is done by ensuring continuous supply of materials, availability of skilled people, reliable machine and methods to ensure high machine uptime.

6) Small strategic buffers or Chokotei (see Figure 7) are placed at bottleneck processes, to maintain a steady flow throughout the process. These buffers cater for short but frequent interruptions such as machine jam, model changeover, material replenishment, protect bottleneck process etc. With this strategic buffer put in place, our system uptime increases.

Buffers between work stationsSmall buffer to ensure downstream process continue production when upstream process changes model.
Buffers to help smooth operation
7) Standardized work
Along with all the above initiatives, there is a need to develop Standardized work for all the processes including model changeover, part replenishment, equipment maintenance etc. Performing to standard work allows clear and visible operation. Any deviation from standard work would immediately surface abnormality. This will create an opportunity for improvements. Problems need to be resolved immediately using the 5 Whys or DMAIC techniques. The PDCA approach is adopted to ensure problem does not recur after countermeasure is taken.

8) Frequent Changeover through SMED
The daily planned schedule is to run every part, every day in small lot sizes. To do this, there must be available time leftover within a day after meeting customer demand. Figure 7 shows how to compute number of changeover allowable. The shorter the changeover time, the more changeovers can be done.

Lean SMED calculation
Small lot size run is made possible by frequent model changeover. The SMED technique (see Figure 8 & 9) is used to reduce set up time so that the manufacturing system is flexible and can quickly response to any sudden customer change. SMED (single minute exchange of die) together with quick changeover features incorporate into machine, tool and fixtures help to achieve our changeover target to less than one minute

5S-Quickly find tools
Change over time reduction with lean manufacturing and SMED
9) Financial Impact and Results
Through a concerted team effort and with the implementation of the lean concepts, the organization has been able to exceed the original goal set. The daily volume increases by 50% from 18,000 to 27,000 within a month. There was a tremendous annual cost saving of US$600K and further cost avoidance cost saving (overtime) of at least US$200K.
Lean manufacturing results

Implementing Lean manufacturing in our Organization – Part 2

2) Level Production or Heijunka
Prior to kaizen, production schedule was based on big lot size or batch of a particular model. This is because of the long changeover time; hence loss time is incurred whenever there is a model change.

After kaizen, production schedule issued to manufacturing is leveled (see Figure 2) Daily and fixed for a period of 4 weeks to optimize the 3M resources, namely Man, machine and materials. Daily scheduled plan will run every part every day, in small lot size. Any volume fluctuation from customer is managed by Finished Good Buffer which is adjusted regularly.

Lean manufacturing - Heijunka
Daily monitoring of schedule attainment to prevent overproduction and at the same time ensure all losses are catch up within the same day. By incorporating real time visual management . Control (see Figure 3), we are able to quickly surface and resolve any abnormality.

Lean manufacturing - Visual management
4) Increase output to Meet Customer Takt time
To reach the desired output, we need to develop the waterfall chart (see Figure5), which indicates all the processes not meeting the customer takt time. Once identified, there is a need to improve process cycle time starting with all those processes not meeting customer takt time, in this case about 10 out of the 23 processes
Cycle time reductionThe team started exploring all opportunities to improve machine cycle time through Motion kaizen concept (see Figure 6.1 to 6.3) This refers to the elimination of muda motions through proper part presentation, shorten travel distance, optimize speed, elimination of duplicate test/processing/inspection etc. For machine processes, separate value and non value added motions, eliminate non value added movements. This can only be achieved by going to the Gemba and acquiring the ability of “Eye for Waste”.

Lean motion Kaizen

Optimization of work

Reduction of non value added activities

Read Part 3 of this series

Implementing Lean in our Organization – Part 1

Problem Definition
There is a sudden surge in volume for one of the product line from daily output of 18,000 to 24,000 per day.

Increase daily output by 33% without incurring additional capital cost within a period of 3 months.

Current Operating Strategy
This line is currently operating on a 24 work hours per day with 17 direct operators and 15 indirect support staff. It is a fully synchronous line with a total of 23 processes link together by conveyor systems. The initial capital outlay for this line is approximately US$3 Million.

As the line is currently already working on a 24 hr work day, 5 days week, there is no way to increase the output by working additional hours through daily overtime. Working week end overtime is also not a solution as this would only increases the operating costs, which eventually lead to increase in unit cost.

This facility has been in operation for 10 years, since then, we have increased our daily output from 15,000 to 18,000pcs. Hence, in order to achieve output by another 33%, we need to think “out of the box”. We started with the objective of “Achieving Flow through the entire value stream” – that is from the moment customer order is received until cash is received upon goods sold. To achieve this significant output improvement, we would need to identify and eliminate waste along the value stream, as wastes prohibit FLOW. The 2 Key approaches were to create flow and improve machine output by applying several lean concepts.

1) Create Material Flow from Suppliers to Internal Point of use

Prior to Kaizen, suppliers delivered raw parts based on our consumption. As our consumption was not regular, deliveries from suppliers were not consistent or predictable. Thus, we have a 4 days stock staged at our supermarket to ensure there is enough to raw materials supply to production. Pallets of parts were also issued and staged at the production area causing poor housekeeping.

After Kaizen , parts from key suppliers are delivered to the plant daily, at a fixed time (3x/day) and fixed quantity (based on level schedule). This provides a standard work to suppliers and does not cause any jerk to their processes – hence ensures quality product and upfront supply chain stability. Other part supplies were also improved from weekly to daily deliveries thus reduces inventory in our supermarket. Through these implementations, we are able to reduce inventory in our supermarket from 4 to 1.5 days. Parts delivered to the receiving dock are transferred to line site flow rack in a FIFO manner. Any quantities those are not able to be placed onto the allocated rack space will be staged at the ‘Overflow’ area which indicates an ‘Abnormal’ situation. Action will be taken to resolve this abnormality. (E.g. machine down, hence missed schedule). Overflow quantities also indicate a need to catch up missed production. To create rapid flow in m manufacturing, delivery router will move parts to point of use in small lot size – 15 minute delivery route. (see Figure 1)

lean manufacturing implementation - FIFO

Figure 1: Frequent delivery of parts to point of use

Read Part 2 of this series

Lean for your organization contest winning article

We in learnleanblog.com successfully completed the “lean for your organization” contest last month. Among several good quality articles on how to use lean to improve organizational performance, the winning article was submitted by Audrey Cheok. As we promised we emailed him the gift certificate of $200 from Amazon. This is what he had to say.

The “Lean in our organization” contest gives me the opportunity to put my “Gemba experience” together. It took me a few days to organize my thought process. It has been a good experience, as I need to document it in a simple and systematic approach, describing the Lean concepts that have been implemented to achieve our goal. I would like to thank the organizers for picking me as the winner and giving me this opportunity to share our lean experience

Audrey Cheok
15th Sept 08 ”

As we promised we are publishing the good quality articles on our blog. We are starting with the winning article itself. But since the article is little long to fit into a single post, we thought of breaking it down it in to three articles and will be published over a period of time.

Do not forget to leave your comments on those articles.

Lean for your organization contest – Results!

Contest “lean for your organization” is successfully concluded. Now it is the time to let you know the results. Before that, I must thank all of you who participated in the contest for your valuable time and knowledge. I will publish the articles in the upcoming posts.

Before announcing the winner, I must say it was a very tight contest for the first place. Article provided by A.K.Bhargava, Jennifer Eliuk, Satish, Ladwa were among them. They gave a good challenge to for the first place winner.

There are others who submitted good quality articles like Binyam Teshale, Jess Ulloa and Tuan Newlin. All of your articles will be published in the blog in the time to come.
OK, now to the winner…. The winning article was about improving the productivity of an organization. They have obeyed concepts of lean in every stage of the process from identifying the problem to analysis of the root causes to solution development to the implementation and post go live. As a result they have achieved more than originally aimed for.

OK, OK the winner is….
Audrey Cheok ….

Congratulations Audrey. I will send you the gift certificate within next week… your article will be published on the learnleanblog.com as well.

Thanks for all the others for their participation. Learnleanblog.com really appreciates your efforts to share your knowledge with the world. Look forward for more competitions on leanleanblog.com

Lean for your organization contest, some tips to write your articles fast

Recently launched contest “lean for your organization” has gained momentum. I find that more and more people are getting interested in the competition and submitting their articles. At the end of the day I think it is very important for us to use our knowledge and share it with the world. But some people told me they have no experience in writing articles. So I thought of giving you some help in this.

You have more than two weeks to complete your articles and submit for the competition. Believe me even for a writer with no experience it takes about 30 minutes to complete their articles. Just give it a try. Some tips which I feel will help you to write a successful article;

  1. Start by writing down the topic
  2. Then think about the problems you face day to day in your organization
  3. Write down the problem
  4. Think what is the waste category associated with the problem you identify
  5. Then write down the causes to the waste
  6. Once you identify the cause you will have hundreds of ways of eliminating it from the system
  7. Takedown how you will eliminate them from the system
  8. Quantify the results you will get
  9. You are done!

Below is an example:

Having huge amounts of write downs at the end of each month as excess RM
Waste categories:
Inappropriate tooling for RM ordering, undertrained people

  1. People who do the ordering have no proper tools to monitor the RM stocks they have in-house. So they have to make a subjective call to do the ordering.
  2. They are not able to monitor the orders sent out already. So they can not exactly figure out the quantities that they will get in future.
  3. Consumptions are buffered up in various stages. So the ordered RM quantity is higher than the requirement. This is because people who were recruited few months back do not have the experience to carryout their job to the perfection.

Proposed solution:

  1. Give access to people who do the ordering to the warehouse stock monitoring system so that they can have a look at the stock levels before they place orders
  2. Simplify the data entry screens of the warehouse to make it easier to update, so the data will be reliable
  3. Have a excel book maintained with purchase order numbers. This book should contain all the purchase orders sent out. Making the codes used in communication with external parties will make it easier to track the total ordered quantity at any given point.
  4. There are some senior people who are looking after the consumptions of some part of the business. So train all the new people under them and supervise them until they become competent
  5. Use a control chart to check for the write downs at the end of each week (+/- 2%). If the variance is higher then immediately reduce the unconfirmed orders with the vendors.

Expected Outcome:

  1. We are currently wasting around 8% of our RM as write downs
  2. With the training and increased visibility we will reduce the around 3% of the write downs
  3. Monitoring will make the system stable and in long term (within 6 months) will reduce this by further 1%
  4. We will save 4% of the RM write-offs at the first implementation cycle.
  5. With the time kaizen events will reduce this further down

This is an imaginary scenario, but is true for most of the organizations. It took me only 15 minutes to complete this. With your experience and research it will not take more than half an hour for you. Give it a try. At the end of the day you will feel $200 gift voucher is only a small gift. You will enable your organization to solve the problems they have been suffering for ages.
Send your articles to azabadurdeen@yahoo.com . If you are the winner I will send you the gift certificate of $200.

For more information on the competition click on this link.
Knowledge is the only thing expands when you share! 🙂