Working in the Standard Work Cycle

While on the shop floor I was looking at a scrap trend chart on a QCDS board, a look alike in David Mann’s book – Creating a Lean Culture. I was curious why the trend line seemed to have certain patterns to it, so I asked the team leader some simple questions:

Q: “Hi Mindy, what do you use this sheet for?”
A: “I don’t really use it so much. We are just responsible for filling it out.”

Q: “O.k., can I ask you what do you make of these numbers on here?”
A: “Well that basically tracks scrap that we throw away – and it really only happens in one place on the line.”

Q: “Can you show me where that happens?”
A: “Sure, right over here. See, if this part isn’t aligned correctly, we usually have to rework it. The ones we can’t rework are scrap, that is what we record on the scrap sheet.”

Q: “Why is it that the part is not aligned correctly? Can you show me how this could happen?”
A: “Yes, see how I can do it this way, or this way? Both ways give us a problem.”

Q: “Does everyone know this?”
A: “Well, most everyone figures it out after a couple of tries. It is pretty obvious.”

Q: “Right, but you have a lot of turnover because of temporary labor and demand, correct?”
A: “Yeah, it seems like I’m always retraining people.”

Q: “Do you prefer that they learn this problem during training, or on their own.”
A: “Well, I’d like to show them during the training, but the Job Breakdown Sheet needs to be updated. See? (pulls out the sheet from training book) The key points aren’t clear and the reason why we do this could be clarified as well. I just wing it and explain it as best I can.”

Q: “If your training were better, do you think any other problems could be worked out?”
A: “Actually, this part of the job is one of the slowest because it does require the person to do the alignment. There are guides in place, but if the guides get worn out, as they sometimes do – then it takes a little longer to do the job. So, people are waiting and it is sometimes hard for this person to keep up. I’ve even noticed that we make more mistakes when we try to keep up.”

Q: “Would it be helpful if we figured out what the right key points are here and improved this JBS?”
A: “Yes, let’s do that.”

A simple conversation. The key points to this type of follow up are:

  1. Go and See the actual situation.

  2. Get the Facts by using a questioning attitude not a judgmental one.

  3. Grasp the situation by focusing your questions on the process.

  4. Set your expectations. Offer any help you can but make sure the person who owns the process (NOT you) is making the actual improvements.

  5. Follow up. Ensure that follow-up training and any adjustments are made standard: in this case, a change was made to the JBS and all people had to be “re-trained” in the process. In reality, for those that know how to do the job, they simply reviewed the changes and the team leader monitors for standardization.\

Last lesson learned: don’t copy things out of a book unless you are actually going to use them. Not to sound too critical, but a lot of resources have been spent updating a trend chart nobody uses. If it doesn’t serve an immediate purpose towards solving problems in the workplace, it is not worth the paper it is printed on.

Note: Many of you are reading this thinking...why didn't you just mistake proof the alignment of the part? Or is the part needed altogether? Good questions. In the past, I would have jumped directly to this action as well. How do you think this would affect the thoughts and behaviors of the team leader and her people working in the area?

My last question to readers is this: once I establish the mindset of standardization with this team leader, what do you think my next step will be?

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