Communication Problems

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TWI Service FireFox Issues and Problem Solving Manual Updates

O.k. - two updates to TWI Service website:

1- Hopefully I've minimized some of the object/artifacts that tend to "float" on our Mozilla/Firefox users. I use Firefox myself, so rest assured that I will solve these problems as I can get to them from now through the weekend. I can't stand the problems we are having right now, but the links are still available to all manuals.

2- A cleaned up version of the Problem Solving Manual is now available, with all of the handouts and materials now in the back of the manual.

Since Firefox has just released their new version, (which is awesome) some of you may have issues. Any feedback on Firefox issues with the TWI Service website are appreciated.


TWI Service problems for Firefox browsers

For users of Firefox...you are likely experiencing viewing or resolution problems with the TWI Service website. There are two things going on here:

  1. I'm using Microsoft Publisher for creating the TWI Service webpages. I don't like it, but it is what I have and it is a WYSIWYG editor.
  2. I'm not a "webmaster", I'm a "webcrawler" more than anything else. As such, us rookies have a lot to learn and do when it comes to maintaining websites.
The temporary solution will be a REALLY simple site so everyone can download all of the materials, which you can still do. It's all of the other html scripts and objects that are all jumbled up. I'm working and learning as we speak so your patience is much appreciated.

Thanks! Bryan

Think in Reverse

I've always said that thinking lean is like thinking in reverse. Here are three common lean examples:

  1. Pull systems are a great example. Instead of guessing how much will be consumed, I only make what has been consumed.

  2. With lot sizes, it is the economic lot size formula that drives large lot sizes. In lean thinking, we know that small lot size production employs literally single minute changeover will eradicate the benefits of EOQ. It is often called the EOQ blind spot, which gives us a hint that it requires a different way of thinking to embrace SMED principles.

  3. When trying to coach people in improvements, it is tempting to ask somebody a very basic question, "what will happen if you do this?" Sometimes a better question is, "what will happen if you don't do this?" Reverse thinking can open your mind to all sorts of possibilities.

  4. When looking at quality inspection, most quality control programs have inspection at the end of the process, lean thinking says: "what effects will inspecting near the beginning of the process have?"

Here is a great example from the world of human resources: when someone leaves the company and you have the opportunity to retain them, do you pay them what they want in order to retain that person? The example might be that someone says they are leaving and will make $10,000 more per year. They are a great employee...do you try and convince them to stay by matching or exceeding their new employment offer? Tough questions...not easy answers.

It is not necessary to summarize the management techniques that thousands of people employ in this scenario...suffice it to say that it is a major problem and area specialty for thousands of HR professionals today...the short answer to this scenario is that "it depends."

One online footwear company has thought about this question using reverse thinking, or what leansters would call lean thinking.

In summary, here is what Zappo's has codified: after one week of employement, you are offered $1,000 to quit. You heard it right. The precise, polar opposite of what many of us think when faced with retention problems is exactly what Zappo's has made policy. Here is the full article link. Enjoy!


Kaizen - Under Your Nose - Just Stop to Smell the Flowers

Recent article from the New Yorker discusses how Toyota offers up their continuous improvement system to anyone, going so far as to teach GM and UAW employees...and how we have failed to see why it works by failing to redefine how we think about innovation.


Two notable quotes in this article:

"Fortune, which typically praises the company effusively, has labeled it “stodgy and bureaucratic.” But if Toyota doesn’t look like an innovative company it’s only because our definition of innovation—cool new products and technological breakthroughs, by Steve Jobs-like visionaries—is far too narrow. Toyota’s innovations, by contrast, have focused on process rather than on product, on the factory floor rather than on the showroom. That has made those innovations hard to see. But it hasn’t made them any less powerful.

Toyota’s innovative methods may seem mundane, but their sheer relentlessness defeats many companies. That’s why Toyota can afford to hide in plain sight: it knows the system is easy to understand but hard to follow."

This is one of the beautiful things about "old, traditional methods" we find in U.S. management theory. The old stuff works, if only we are relentless in our discipline when it comes to engaging people in the daily identification and elimination of waste. Training Within Industry J-programs are aimed at precisely that task and target the frontline defense in leading the charge against waste.

The unfortunate side of western management is that we take these large steps forward, thinking we are being innovative, when we haven't done the due diligence in operations to insure the process is stable in the first place. Rather, we focus on large financial or technological gains, and then wonder why it all falls apart in the long term.



Kaizen Suggestion for Nissan Quest

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!

I spent mine enjoying the fairly decent Vermont weather, playing with the kids, doing some gardening and of course: too much eating. There is always a little bit of work to do on these long weekends though. During a bit of rain, I slipped our 2005 Nissan Quest into the garage to change the brake pads. The front brakes were no problem except for dealing with the typically seized bolts from three Vermont winters.

The back brakes though, presented quite the opportunity for my father and I to scratch our heads. The upper bolt on the caliper sleeve came out easy enough. The lower bolt though, didn't have enough room to clear the control arm. I simply couldn't pull the loose bolt out of the sleeve!
Never did I imagine that we would have to loosen and lower the control arm in order to pull a caliper bolt out. I know CAD/CAM programs help with possible interferences in design, but the simple fact is this: new cars are just about impossible to work on. I wonder how much effort goes into the design of the disassembly process.
Probably zero, but this will be a whole new area of interest for new car designers. As fuel costs rise and cars become more expensive, I wonder how many people will begin to take on routine maintenance tasks themselves. This was a simple problem, and it can be fixed easily. Someone should start a contest for auto designers to come up with the simplest, easiest vehicle to work on. It would save people money, make the design of the car better.

By the way...I saved about $800 doing this job myself. The dealership said I needed new rotors and calipers. Sorry, this will be my only curse word on this blog: B.S.!

When we had each wheel apart, we found the rotors were smooth as silk with no warping or grooves. Pads were bad, but that's why I changed them. When the clerk at the desk told me I needed new calipers all around, I knew it was best to just leave and do it myself. Here is a breakdown of the total cost:

New brake pads: $60.
Six pack of beer: $7.
Fuel to drive to my fathers: $6
Can of tennis balls for my Dad's dog: $3

I found this to be a much better experience than going to the dealer.



TWI Problem Solving Manual Status - Handouts and Forms - Coming Soon!

Since I've uploaded the long lost Problem Solving manuals from TWI Inc. a few weeks ago, I've received numerous emails from TWI Service visitors asking "where can I get the handouts and forms?" Great question and I have a great answer...they are coming soon to TWI Service...just as soon as I get them scanned and uploaded.

All of the materials from WHRS were provided to me in hardcopy form, so this means that to get these converted into PDF I need to apply a couple of key points for your benefit:

Get them scanned, cropped and reduced for your convenience, so that downloads are not tragically slow and are usable.

Also, Jeff Maling is helping out with some of this work with his bulk scanning capabilities, so I hope to have new PST manual links uploaded to reduce the wait times while you download the eight sessions.

All in due time, good things are worth waiting for!


Job Instruction Breakdown Sheets – Stabilizing for Improvement

I’m training a lean coordinator this week in how conduct Job Instruction Sessions. During the training, he needs to coach people out on the floor in breaking down jobs. An example he ran into yesterday highlights a common problem in manufacturing plants around the country and is one of the very subtle reasons why standards are hard to maintain and thus improve.

First consider the simple comparison of the headings on a breakdown sheet to the universal questions of "what, how, and why".

Important Steps are WHAT we are doing. (e.g., washing clothes)
Key Points are HOW we do it. (e.g., by hand or machine wash)
Reasons WHY help us emphasize the Key Points. (e.g., by hand for delicates, or machine wash makes the job easier for people and is safe for more durable textiles.)

Out of the laundromat and into the factory: a resistance welder has two electrodes that tarnish as they are used. An operator is expected to periodically remove the black residue from the electrodes. The important step here was recorded as “sand electrodes”. The key points were 1) between electrodes, 2) NOT bottoms, and 3) no black residue.

The problem here isn’t obvious, but it can result in two things happening and we see this all of the time. First, we think that WHAT we are doing is sanding, but WHAT we are really doing is cleaning. HOW we do it, or the key point then, is to sand. This sounds like nit-picking, but you need to put your kaizen hat on to understand this point. Someday, you must engage these employees to come up with better ways to do things. When I ask a person, “HOW can you improve the sanding”, what responses will I get? “Automate it! Have some else do it! Do it lightly! Sand it harder! Use a different grit size! All good suggestions, but remember, WHAT we are doing is not sanding, we are cleaning. The key point, or HOW we do it the job, is sanding.

So, now I ask the same question, but differently: “how can you improve the cleaning?” Now the possibilities are not limited to sanding, but new technologies, materials and methods. Good kaizen is now possible.

Second, when we mix up key points and important steps, it becomes difficult to maintain the standards. The reason for this is not as simple as the previous example, but we can illustrate this by focusing on SAFETY, which is always a key point and NEVER an important step. Before you call me crazy, let me explain:

Safety is ALWAYS a key point. Important steps are logical steps in the sequence of the work, those that actually advance the work. What does this mean, exactly? It means simply that value has been added to the product. So, if I list the important steps as 1) fixture plates, 2) put on gloves and mask 3) weld seam most people would find no problem with this. But what if I'm at the end of my shift and just completed step two? Do I expect the incoming welder to just pick up the stick and start welding on step three? Of course not. I fully expect him to do it safely. WHAT am I doing? Welding. HOW am I doing it? With gloves and mask. I'm doing the step safely. We can test this by asking ourselves some other fundamental kaizen-oriented questions. Does putting on gloves and mask advance the work, or add value to the product? If I improve welding by automating it, are their any potential safety problems that I solve or must consider? Knowing HOW we do things leads us to better thinking about the job.

This is why it is difficult to maintain standards. If people do the job and skip putting on their gloves, they can still go to step three and weld! They are still doing the job, but they are not doing it safely. The proof that safety is a key point is that we see these types of behavior all of the time. People learn shortcuts, really what they are doing is missing key points. Eventually though, those key points will come back to haunt you.

It is VERY easy to mix up our key points, thinking that they are important steps. This is natural as you begin breaking down jobs, but with the proper guidance from an experienced JI trainer, you will be able to see the possibilities for improvement in every important step and key point. This is why JI isn’t about documenting the job, it is about stabilizing the job so that you can think through further improvements in the future.



Key Points Don’t Always Hurt You…BUT They Do Hurt!

We bought this cool compact treadmill but found that it was marking up the wood floor, so I purchased a mat. The mat arrived a few days later in a taped cardboard box which was taped like a mummy. Anyway, out came the utility knife! I bent over the box without kneeling, reach as far forward as I could and plunged the blade into the gap between the flap and box. As I pulled the blade towards myself, I swiftly cut the taped seam. As the blade came closer, I just nicked my pant leg – a near miss!

I was lucky, but many people in factories are not as lucky as I was. At the recent TWI Summit, Don Dinero and I were talking about key points and how they don’t always burn you, but when they do…they hurt! When I had my near miss...something Don said quickly came to mind: key points don't alway hurt you, but eventually they will! If you have been in any of Don's JI sessions, you know his coffee maker story about key points. If you love coffee like I do, you will find his story about not knowing key points absolutely tragic ;)

Back to my knife problem. How many times have you done something a certain way, only to have it go wrong and you are left scratching your head – “what just happened here? Every other time I’ve done it this way, it worked just fine!” We end up writing it off as a fluke, failing to miss the critical passage of a missed key point.

Surprisingly, I see people cutting towards their bodies or digits often, making the same unconscious mistake that I made. And that is the problem, isn’t it? We do our jobs unconsciously, not really thinking about what we are doing because we think we know the job so well. The reality is, we are often just plain lucky.

I thought about my near miss and wrote a break down sheet so I could work my way through the potential problems I encountered. One of the problems was that if I had kneeled, I probably would have taken my time, in control and not rushed – rather than try to make one cut. If I was kneeling next to the box, I certainly wouldn’t have cut towards my legs.

Often people will purchase cut-proof gloves, safety knifes and fish knives and rely on the PPE to protect employees. Amazingly, I’ve seen people remove the guarding or mechanisms on safety knives, only so they become a more general purpose tool. The reality is this, unless people know the key points of the job, they will never know standard. If they don’t know the standard you are just plain lucky something hasn’t gone wrong today. The following link will bring you to my example JBS:

Job Instruction Breakdown Sheet Example

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Training Within 'Industry Week' Article Spotlight

TWI in the spotlight! See current issue of Industry Week...

Industry Week Article Hyperlink



Wastes in Manufacturing - 93 Years Ago

Still plowing through Installing Efficiency Methods, by C.E. Knoeppel. Wish he was around today, he is probably rolling in his grave silently cursing all of us for not taking his words of wisdom to heart. 93 years ago, he wrote this book mostly based on his experience in foundries, hardly a high volume, low variety kind of manufacturing that we all wish we had. Who am I kidding, a lot of us do have that! Yet he identified these 15 wastes in manufacturing. Perhaps in this list, you will recognize a few as our eight wastes identified in Lean Manufacturing and made popular by Taiichi Ohno of TPS fame:

Knoeppel's 15 Wastes - from 1915:

  1. Delays - "...mean a loss of money. As most of them can be eliminated, study of their causes is worth while."
  2. Rejections - "Rejected work is a waste of the worst kind..."
  3. Manufacturing Changes - "machines broken up because of rush order, incomplete designing..."
  4. Idle equipment - "the burden...must be absorbed by those that are working...means a loss in production."
  5. Inefficiency of Management - "...beyond the control of workmen is something that should be closely watched, for so long as it is in evidence maximum results are out of the question."
  6. Inefficiency of Workmen - ditto.
  7. Changes in operation - "When changes are necesseary in the tasks set before the men, the real reasons should be invesetigated in order to reduce them if possible to a minimum."
  8. Purchase failures - "waiting for material purchased is one of the most annoying things to contend with and is a much larger factor in manufacturing than many have any idea of. It means delayed shipments, rush and hustle, loss of business, night and Sunday work, interference with plans made and numerous extra machine changes."
  9. Delayed shipments - "The reputation for prompt delivery is the desire of every concern. The aim is therefore to wathc this in an effort to improve the shipping so as to enable the concern to retain the good will of the trade."
  10. Faulty Movement of Material - "Managers fail to realize how easy it is to waste money in moving material."
  11. Poor arrangement of equipment - "The efficiency of each unit may be high, but when inter-relation is considered, loss due to faulty arrangement is apparent."
  12. Complaints - "While many men are unreasonable, the majority do not kick without having something to kick about. Where there is smoke there is fire, and analysis aims to find the fire."
  13. Lack of Co-operation - "Success in increasing efficiency is largely dependent upon securing the full co-operation of men and shop management. If there is an absence of this essential, the engineer should know it, and why."
  14. Faulty planning - "Anything which interferes with the most efficient planning will cause loss, confusion, and delays. As these are the very things which the engineer must eliminate if his work is to be successful, he will have to find the faults preparatory to elimination."
  15. Congestion at machines - "This often holds a shop back and blocks progress. Whether the trouble is lack of equipment or the fault of the shop is something the engineer can only ascertain through analysis."
Any parallels here to the eight wastes? Please, leave your comments!

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The Devil is in the Details

Process improvement, not matter what ANYONE tells you, is about learning to see the details of the job. Download this excell 2003 spread sheet from TWI Service. It is a Guess the Movie game, which is a really cool idea. Think you know movies? You need to know the details.

Here is the rule: the people are removed from the screenshots of well known movies. Guess the movie the screen shot is from by typing the name of the movie in the first line under the screen shot. It's that simple! Spelling counts!

This would be a fun way to illustrate the point that we tend to overlook the details of everyday things. In the same way we watch a movie without paying attention to the details, colors, sets, etc., we tend to do the same thing in manufacturing...like making an improvement while overlook the details that make up the job.

Have fun and please share!


Origins of Pull and Kanban

In reading a book from 1915, Installing Efficiency Methods by C.E. Knoeppel, Jeff Maling pointed out this great excerpt:

Now, the methods outlined in Knoeppel's book do not tell the reader how to establish a kanban system, BUT this passage serves as proving the point that people have been trying to get at better ways to plan and execute production for the past 100 years. The spirit of doing things better is in everyone. It is up to managers to enable people to turn that spirit into action.



TWI Summit & Job Instruction - Update

Well, the 2nd Annual TWI Summit is in the past and we can look forward to another year of learning, leading up to next year's Summit! There was an incredible interest in Job Instruction - fueled by the great case studies presented by Job Instruction users from all around the country. If you are inspired to try out Job Instruction, you will need some wire and a terminal in order to put on a great demonstration of the JI four step method. There is a great wire source on the web for some authentic cotton braided wire. Making your demonstration authentic helps pass the skill of instruction as believable and helps in avoiding the typical "we're different" response to TWI J programs.

You can use a new old stock plug from Sundial Wire, or you can also go to the hardware store and pick up an old style table lamp socket shell for a few bucks. Please remember that I'm not an electrician and do not recommend that you use this in your home. But the lamp socket looks like the old style that hang from a garage or closet ceiling - so it's something people recognize and it serves the purpose of stating the importance and safety behind the job of tying the knot.

I tell the trainee that "our sockets find their way into army barracks and submarines. Nobody wants a fire on a submarine 400 feet under the water. So, before you learn the final assembly of this socket, you need to learn the most important job, the fire underwriter's knot." Once assembled with about a one foot strand of wire, you can actually show your trainee in the demonstration the finished product. It's a great way to demonstrate how to "put the trainee" at ease and "state the importance of the job.



Lean invented in United States

Well, the initial bibliophile convention is over. Tomorrow, the work begins of sharing and learning. Tonight, a number of us at the TWI Summit: Jeff Maling of IBM, John Shook, Jim Huntzinger, etc. poured through the TWI, Inc. materials, namely the Problem Solving Material available here.

The gem of the century, check that, previous century was Installing Efficient Methods by C. E. Knoeppel. Thank you Jeff! This book was published in 1915.

If you do ANYTHING with your professional development this year, do this:

Download the free and publicly available book by Knoeppel here. Read it. You can thank this group later.

The headline: Pull Systems invented in U.S.A.!!

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TWI Summit - New TWI Kaizen Manual Available

This week I'll be at the 2008 TWI Summit in Orlando, FL. I consider it a privilege to share some experiences regarding Standard Work with fellow TWI practitioners. Thanks to Jim Huntzinger and Dwayne Butcher for putting this event together. If I don't see you this week, maybe next year? See http://www.twisummit.com/ for the 2009 Summit details.

To celebrate the kickoff of the 2nd annual Training Within Industry Summit, I've made availabe today the Problem Solving Training Manual. It is located at my content website: TWI Service. Check out this manual and let me know what you think. I for one, can't wait to sink my teeth into this!

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Square Watermelons

I cannot pass up the opportunity to share kaizen with everyone! Thanks, Kris for passing this along!

Japanese grocery stores had a problem. They are much smaller than shops in the USA and therefore don't have room to waste. Watermelons, big and round, wasted a lot of space. Most people would simply tell the grocery stores that watermelons grow round and there is nothing that can be done about it. That is how majority of people would respond. But some Japanese farmers took a different approach. If the supermarkets wanted a square watermelon, they asked themselves, "How can we provide one?" It wasn't long before they invented the square watermelon.

The solution to the problem of round watermelons was solved as the farmers did not assume it was impossible - and simply asked how it could be done. They found out that if you put the watermelon in a square box when they are growing, the watermelon will take on the shape of the box - and grow into a square fruit.

This made the grocery stores happy and had the added benefit that it was much easier and cost effective to ship the watermelons. Consumers also loved them because they took less space in their refrigerators which are much smaller than those in the US meaning that the growers could charge a premium price for them.

Five lessons learned from this example:
  1. Don't assume anything. How many things in life do you regard as fixed, like the sacred round watermelon?
  2. Make it a habit to always question your habits. There are false assumptions lying underneath them.
  3. Be creative. Think outside the box - but remember that there are good ideas inside the box too, like our square watermelon. Sometimes we just have to get creative with the fundamentals contained within the box.
  4. Look for better ways - by not assuming anything, habitually challenging your assumptions and trying creative things.
  5. There is no such thing as impossible. Square watermelons? YES!

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Manufacturing & Engineering Calculators, Troubleshooting, Research Website

Dave Burhans, of Burhans Research in Southern Vermont, has created a series of handy interactive calculators and troubleshooting guides for engineering, maintenance and manufacturing. You can check them all out at his website: Burhans Research

I really like the motor troubleshooting guides as it gives a fair amount of potential problems and advice for motors. Dave provides some detailed advice in using motors as "canary's in the coal mine"; indicators of problems hindering manufacturing plant performance.
There are many other calculators that you may find helpful such as JIT lot sizing, cost of quality and setup time.
Great content website. Thanks Dave!



La-Z-Boy Portland wins Shingo Prize - TWI part of the solution

See permalink to this story. The article highlights how TWI was used in within the sales force. Incidentally, Lowell Mellen, who carried on the TWI torch after the war, was primarily in rubber sales and marketing for most of his career until he joined the TWI Cleveland district during the war. Within his files at the library of the Western Reserve Historical Society and museum, there is heavy evidence of the integration of customer needs (through sales and marketing) and meeting those needs through the solving of production problems. Perhaps La-Z-Boy Portland found this sweet spot?

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