5S, Poka-Yoke and Visual Controls

I recently attended a 5S audit that takes a much more holistic approach, namely it includes the 7 wastes, TPM wastes, mistake proofing, etc. Upon my return back to the office, I encountered a problem in my own genba. When traveling, I frequently run out of juice for my laptop. It takes me awhile to figure it out, but it is because I plug my chargers in backwards and don't realize it. I think the pictures tell the story:

Here is the receptacle. Notice the small key on the right side of the oval.

Here is the plug. Notice the keyway on the side of the plug.

The designers made a good attempt at mistake proofing this plug, but the key is really small and the material is fairly pliable under force. The result is that you CAN plug it in backwards and not realize you have done it wrong. You won't get power, but it looks correct. A blue light comes on, but not always if the power receptacle in the wall doesn't provide power, which surprisingly happens frequently in hotels and offices. (Breakers turned off for maintenance, or in need of repair for example.) So whether if wrong or right, a lack of blue light doesn't guarantee I've done my part correctly.

I need a visual control to tell me if the standard is met, in order to avoid mistakes or failure. Here is my visual control for this standard:



TWI Service Update - Japan Reports and Learn by Doing

As the newly designed TWI Service website evolves, part of that process is migrating files from the old site to the new. On the TWI Service Links page, here you will find categories of useful files and links.

Today's updates include four TWI reports: the two TWI Service government reports and the TWI, Inc. reports from Japan, dated 1951 and '56.

Please be aware that the final TWI Service report from 1945 is a super sized file, +17 MB, so be patient while it downloads. When I get a few minutes, I'll run it through compression and perhaps break it into smaller pieces if necessary.

One last note, my permission files are on the fritz, so those of you who have tried to email me through the TWI Service have done so in vain. I apologize, if you need to email me, please use the following address: bryan [AT] trainingwithinindustry [DOT] net



5S and Waste Reduction

5S is more than housekeeping. It is about work place organization & standardization. It should be clear that this means people organize and standardize their job.

What are we focusing on with 5S? Our work. And we must think of our work as an experiment in process improvement. Take a look at the temperature gauge on the left. This is a control point within our process. It also happens to be the 14th control point in the process. While it is helpful for purposes of checking the control points, the visual control here does not indicate control is had. Is it in control? How do you know?

Manufacturing workers are under greater performance demands than ever before in history. This means higher productivity; sometimes increasing the number of machines per person. It is very unfair and disrespectful to casually assign machines to already busy workers without reducing current workloads. If the machines cannot meet current standards, how do we expect workers to meet the new productivity demands? This machine has hundreds of control points. Here are ten in this picture. Are we in control? How do you know? If they are out of control, what losses should we expect? What could be done to reduce those losses?

The need for control points suggest that something is out of control. We can say with confidence that these dials are adjusted on some frequency. Why do people adjust them? Often because the process is out of control? If something is out of control, what could the reasons be for deciding to make the adjustment?

Experience? Judgement? Intuition? Guessing? Tinkering? Panicking? Fear?

The pressures to perform without a lack of standards, combined with the pressure to be 'empowered' may be part of the causes here.

Or perhaps the control is wrong and the worker doesn't want to bring it back in control? What could the reasons be for this effect?

Lack of confidence? Lack of training? Lack of authority? Perhaps fear?

Regardless of the reason, we are led to the simple fact that a Decision Must Be Made to adjust. It is good initiative on behalf of our workers to make adjustments. It can be catastrophic to make adjustments that bring the process out of control.

In the picture above, what is the correct speed on the dial? How do you know? What should the pressure be adjusted to? How did you make that decision? Visual controls allow us to check, decide and act instantly and correctly. Standardization of these processes brings it all into control. 5S helps us pinpoint problems faster this way. A basic level of organization and standardization allows us to focus on waste, not the day-to-day problems of cleanliness. This will quickly lead to engagement of your employees, soliciting ideas for kaizen.

5S is not housekeeping!

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TWI Bookstore back online!

O.k., I'm finally plowing my way through the final updates of TWI Service. This past weekend I uploaded the TWI Service bookstore.

One thing I really like about the TWIS bookstore is that you have access to thousands of Amazon booksellers - translation: low cost books! I can't stand paying a lot for books, and if you wait a few weeks without jumping on new releases, you can save over 50% on even new books!

Check out the TWI Bookstore for newest lean books: Extreme Toyota and A3 Thinking. Your purchases through the bookstore ensures that the original materials are made available on the web and available to all people industry! Thanks for your support!



TWI Presentations Job Instruction Examples

If you did not attend the 2007 or 2008 TWI Summits, fear not! Go to my links page at TWI Service and link to the presentation pages for past summits.

You can even download keynotes from Robinson, Shook and others!

Don't forget to sign up for TWI 2009!



Toyota Plants Shift Gears from Highlander to Prius

Toyota announces the new Mississippi plant, originally slated for Highlander production, will now be used for Prius production. Highlanders will move to Indiana which will displace Tundra production. Consequently, Tundra production will be temporarily suspended in all plants except for Texas.

A couple of questions come to mind:

1) How enviable is Toyota's current capacity position? They regularly run plants at +100% capacity. When things go south in the market, they can move production seemingly at will?

2) Perhaps I'm naive, but how flexible are the Big Three in this respect? It seems to me that a close marriage between marketing, product development, and production is absolutely necessary. Could any of the domestic automakers pull something like this off?

To me, this seems like a daunting task, but Toyota discusses this as if it is routine.



WWII Aviation Museum

I'm in the heart of North Carolina this week for some 5S sessions. I spent some downtime at the North Carolina Aviation Museum in Asheboro. This is a great local attraction if you are in town and gives you a chance to appreciate the experience of our country's heroes. One thing you can appreciate is the amount of work and dedication members and volunteers have put into the great exhibits of U.S., German and Japanese soldier memorabilia. For adults, the restored aircraft is the highlight of the museum. For kids, they will love model aircraft hanging in the museum entrance. I have to admit, I spent about thirty minutes admiring the handiwork of U.S. Navy veteran Bob Moon, who painstakingly perfected the smallest details on all 115 models!

One related TWI exhibit was the Rosie the Riveter ephemera. There were several other training guides for maintenance, flight, controls, etc. For gearheads, you will love the radial and jet engines on display.

For a few bucks admission and a couple of hours, you can learn a little about WWII aviation history and other signs of the time while getting out of the heat! This Vermonter is thankful!



Job Instruction Training - JBS examples for Software and 5S signs

Part of 5S thinking is making workplace standards visual, simple and easy to understand. An inhouse signmaker will not only allow you to make customized visuals quickly, but you get it done cost effectively. For a couple hundred dollars a month, you can make just about anything you need for your plant, from pipe markers to banners.

One problem with this equipment is that the software is proprietary and you have to be a little crafty and coordinated to make decent signage. So, the software has little tricks that are like Microsoft standards, but not exactly. A job breakdown sheet helps you train somebody in those little tricks.

When it comes to making a good sign - bubbles are the enemy! Putting over the key points to preventing unsightly bubbles in an otherwise perfect sign is not easy to do. Enter Job Instruction.

Follow the link to the newly updated Job Instruction page, where you will find new examples of Job Breakdown Sheets that are essential to success when practicing Job Instruction.

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Job Instruction - Language problems and training

I've heard people who are practicing lean, "those visuals should be so intuitive that anyone can come off the street and do the job just by looking at it."

That is definitely an ideal state (I guess?) but hardly practical. What about the person that walks in off the street and can't speak English?

In 2007, there were over 1,000,000 legally approved immigrants for citizenship. 40% of them were not living in the United States prior to this status. It is estimated that about 10% of the immigrant population speaks no English. This makes simple tasks like training very difficult.

I found a file in the TWI archives that had German alongside the English instruction Job Breakdown Sheet. It was labeled as coming from Rochester, NY. I asked my wife's grandmother if there was a canning factory with German speaking workers during the war. She drove us past the building, which has been turned into condos, and pointed out: "that is where the POWs worked in the cannery."

So, not only did we train people who spoke zero English, we trained the enemy?

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Continuous Improvement Booklist

Some of the best insight into Lean Manufacturing is provided by the early pioneers of Industrial Engineering and Scientific Management. Jeff Maling of IBM has a real knack for uncovering some of these gems, like C.E. Knoeppels - Installing Efficiency Methods, where he describes the first pull system: in 1915.

I'm slowly building a list of these references in a Google library. All books are "full view" which typically means they are in the public domain.

If you think Lean is a Japanese culture thing---read these books and think again!



New and improved TWI Service Website!

O.k., since the TWI Service site started having problems with the new release of Firefox 3, I had to get to the bottom of it. Here is the bottom line: IE doesn't really like web standards.

So for all of you standard work zealots like me out there: the new website passes CSS and strict XHTML web standards. I had to learn CSS, HTML and XHTML over the past couple of weeks, so bear with me as the new site is under re-construction!

Here is the good news along with the changes:

1) All of the manuals are easily available with no broken links that I can detect:

  • Job Instruction
  • Job Methods
  • Job Relations + Union Job Relations
  • Job Safety
  • Problem Solving
  • Program Development
  • Management Training

2) About 80% of traffic comes from bookmarks. Visitors please make note of this: all file extensions have been converted to strict XHTML. What that means is that in the past, a file might end with .htm - now it will end with .html

3) Hopefully improved navigation. The layout is a newer version of a three column layout, with content on the left, navigation in the middle and third party content on the right. Third party content helps pay for the cost of keeping the site up, so anything you and your business can do to support the online TWI effort is much appreciated.

4) There are some elements of the site that will be under construction this fourth of July Weekend. Please be patient with me. Email will be back up on Monday, July 7. Other elements of the site under construction this weekend:

  • Email
  • Links/resources
  • Bookstore
  • About
  • Historical Archives (manuals and materials are the exception)
  • Kaizen

Thanks everyone for your patience. Many people have been extremely helpful in providing feedback on resolutions, broken links, etc. This webmaster novice appreciates your feedback and patience with my learning curve.

The good news is this: this site should be supported by nearly all browsers including IE, Mozilla, Safari, Opera, Konqueror. It has been tested in IE 5, 6, 7, & Firefox 2, 3.

Please provide feedback via comments on this post!


Bryan Lund

Lean in Education - Toyota Style

An element necessary in US competitive strategy is education. This headline gave me some hope that academia is finally getting it, and then I realized that Toyota was behind this! This is great for Mississippi no matter the source; I just would have liked to have seen a university taking this on as a pioneer without being prompted by Toyota. I strongly suspect that the push for this new approach is coming from the Toyota side, and our academic leaders are wondering how all of this fits in with their paradigm.

Incidentally, a post on NWLean:

"Toyota is buying Fuji Heavy Industries (maker of Subaru) stock to bring its ownership share from 9.5 to 16.5% of Fuji.

Again, the methodologies for modifying the cultures of companies that come under Toyota control are of intense interest."



Lean Thinking in Politics

Regarding news, Lean is in the headlines within our congressional offices. The Oral B story helps communicate the need for continuous improvement strategies as a piece of the global economic puzzle. One particular arm of the government helps promote Lean through state and federal grants: The NIST MEP network. The Vermont MEP group has been an incredible benefit to Vermont manufacturers. Read what is on the desks of your congressional representative. Do you think they will get it? If not, make sure they hear all about it and write to them about how lean can help the U.S. compete on a global level.

The parallel here of course is the TWI Service created by the government in 1941. I can't prove it, but as far as I know, the TWI Service is the ONLY government agency to receive an "Industry Award", that is, where taxpayers offered an award of excellence to a government program!

If anyone knows of any other government program receiving similar accolades, please mention them here. I'm curious to see if my claim is true.