Gandhi gets Lean

There is more to life than increasing its speed.
Mohandas Gandhi

The same is true for manufacturing. Especially when we think about batching and consumption based replenishment (kanban/pull). Many managers, supervisors and leads will resist reductions in batch size on the premise that the change will reduce their production rates, thereby increasing costs and missing shipments.

In my experience, the complete opposite is true. Here is one example. During my Job Methods training, I had to pick a production problem to practice on. A current production problem was easily found where the line was unable to make their daily order requirements. A quick Q&A led us to a station where the product was batched in groups of five and subsequent operations were processed one, or more, at a time. By modifying the fixture we were able to balance the line so that a "make-one-take-one" situation was adopted by the line. Initial results, by reducing the batch from five down to one, was a "trebling" of production. Trebling. That's a good word.

But this came with pain and resistance. Immediately, supervisors of the line declared that they were faster welders on five units rather than one. It was only through a Job Methods analysis that I was able to demonstrate to them that the batches of five were actually causing downtime and delays that were virtually eliminated by a single piece fixture scheme. Once we made it through this mental obstacle, the supervisors were more readily and open to seeing that no matter how many they could make in a cycle, the subsequent operation could only make one to their five. Once this was realized on all three shifts, the changes were sustained.

This is one of the many paradoxes (paradoxen?) of lean...by slowing down, we speed up. I want Gandhi on my management team.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Your involvement is essential to ongoing evolution of the leadership community.

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home