I was in a local restaurant the other day looking at the way the waiters went about their tasks. It soon became obvious that some were more efficient that others. Some had time to chat to the guests, while others appeared to be rushing around. I looked at the number of guests and tables they were serving. That appeared to be in balance. I looked at the various stages the meals were at, again all appeared to be reasonably balanced.
The difference was really was quite simple, some waiters were optimising their movements. Every Time they returned to the kitchen, they would clear a table, or at least not return empty handed. The ones that were running around did not. They were having to make twice as many journeys. One to being food out to the guests and a second process to clear plates. Simple.
So in this case improvement is a simple matter of a little training, yet why had it not been spotted and the waiters retrained?
I think the answer is that we get blind to what we do as we go about familiar tasks. Sometimes it makes sense to stop, watch and understand what is going on.
Supervisors and managers in particular need to make time to observe day to day activities and reflect on simple improvements that can be made. This type of improvement activity costs little, but done on a regular basis can overtime significantly improve processes.
Try it. Watch a familiar day to day process and see what you can see.
Anybody that has introduced 5S as a concept to the mass ranks of an organisation will know how difficult it can be. ‘Another flavour of the month’, ‘another thing to fit in’ and ‘when am i supposed to do this’ are amongst the many cries that can come back. But why is this?
The most common mistake organisations make in introducing 5S is failing to link it to the overall message of Lean and Waste removal. All too
often 5S is introduced as a stand alone program with the workplace organisation as its only supporting benefit.
In this case, it is a difficult sell. Leaving only the precise tools and equipment required in an area to perform a specific task, does not go down well when breakdowns and random quality issues are the norm and little is being done to fix them. The majority of people want to do a good
job for the company and keep the process moving, so it is natural for people to want to keep a few spare parts just in case.
In order to succeed 5S needs to be seen as more that just a house keeping tool. It needs to be linked to the bigger picture and to the overall waste identification process. After all that is what it actually is.
So when you are teaching 5S, explain it in those terms. The 1st and 2nd ‘S’ are aimed at setting the process out in such a way that abnormality can be seen quickly. The 3rd and 4th ‘S’ are aimed at trying to look for deeper issues and how a process can be further improved. And finally the 5th ‘S’ is actually all about the entire organisation working to make the process happen.
Also remember, that when a 5S audit is undertaken, it is not really the score that is important (although it does have a place), it is the small opportunities that the team see to improve.
If you would like to know more about 5S why not sign up for the free Kaizentrainer 5S course at
Or read ‘Tools for success’ By Barry Jeffrey and Graham Ross
The word Takt is derived from the German word for beat. In the case of Lean, this refers to the pace of the process as dictated by the customer. If the customer orders 10, then 10 must be produced, not 9 or 11.
The best way to visualise this is by imagining an orchestra with the conductor at the front. He is the customer. The conductor moves his baton up
and down to indicate the ‘beat’ of the music he requires. The musicians follow this beat, all at the same speed, completely synchronized. If he speeds up, the entire orchestra speeds up with him. As he slows down, so do the musicians.
This is the concept of Takt time. A process should adjust its output based on ‘true’ customer demand and not keep running at its maximum speed.
Takt time can be calculated on virtually every task in a business environment. It can be used in manufacturing e.g. machining parts, drilling holes etc. In administration e.g. processing orders, call centre operations etc or in a production line environment, to pace the line.
When implemented correctly, running a process to Takt time provides many benefits. Just a few of these are:
- Since you produce only what is required by the customer, inventory is reduced
- Since the ‘product’ moves along the process at a given speed, bottlenecks are easily identified.
- Since problem processes are easily identified. repeat issues, like breakdowns, can be understood and fixed.
- Since the process moves at a fixed speed, work is balanced across all operators. If it is not bottlenecks will occur.
A lot of confusion can be generated around Takt time calculations. The simplest way of calculating Takt time is to calculate the Takt time for the output of the process. Work from the perspective of the customer.
In order to calculate Takt time, two pieces of information are required.
- Available Time – this is the shift time minus any breaks, clean up time etc.
- The Average Customer Demand – how many does the customer actually require in a given period.
Work in fixed periods (days or weeks) and apply the following calculation.
A store card company receives 2,100 applications per month. And on average they work 20 days per month.
Workers are paid for 7.5 hours per day. They have two 15 minute coffee breaks per day – which are paid.
So the Takt time is calculated as follows:
From the 7.5 working hours 30 minutes must be deducted (for breaks). 7 hours = 420 minutes
2100 / 20 = 105 applications per day
Therefore the takt time calculation is as follows:
420 minutes = 4 minutes
So if we were processing applications to Takt time, you would expect to see an application being processed every 4 minutes. Running with a Takt time of 4 minutes means that the process is set up to deal with the customer demand as efficiently as possible.
This Is an extract from the book Tools for Success, by Barry Jeffrey and Graham Ross. If you would like to know more why not follow the link www.kaizentrainer.com
The concept Poka-yoke was originally developed as part of the Toyota productions system by Shigeo Shingo. it is a Japanese term that means “mistake-proofing”. By interestingly it was originally named “baka-Yoke”, which has the meaning “Fool-proofing”, but this was quickly changed to the less offensive form.
The name is derived from two Japanese words, Poka meaning “Mistakes” and Yokeru meaning “avoid” and really is applied to any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator avoid making mistakes. Its purpose is to stop the process at the point where a defect occurs. This has two effects. Firstly and most obviously, it stops the defect from being passed on the other processes further down the
line. But also, secondly it allows an error to be investigated at the very point and time the defect originated. This makes problem solving much easier and allows ‘counter-measures’ to be put in place, thus improving quality.
There are 3 main types of Poka-yoke device:
- Contact type, which is designed to identify defects by testing the product’s shape, size, color, or other physical attributes.
- Fixed-value type, which is designed to alert the operator if a certain number of movements are not made.
- Motion-step (or sequence) type, which tests if the prescribed steps of the process have been followed.
Poka-Yoke and its use is not reserved for business. Examples can be seen in everyday life. Here’s just a few:
Fill a car with Fuel. Look at the area around the Filler flap. There are at least 3 examples of Poka-yoke devices present.
- The size of the nozzle varies depending on the type of fuel to stop unleaded being put into a diesel. But you can make the error the other way around, so this is not a perfect example.
- When you take the fuel cap off, the cap is tethered to the main body, stopping the motorist driving off having left the cap on the roof!
- The Cap is fitted with a ratchet to prevent over tightening.
Circuit breakers in houses are designed to prevent electrical overloads . When the load becomes too great, the circuit is broken.
Computer Leads, Look at the back of any computer and you will see a plethora of leads. All of the leads have different type plugs on them to stop them being fitted into the wrong socket.
ATM Machines, return your card before your cash is dispensed to stop you forgetting it. This one works on the basis you are unlikely to forget your cash !!!
In the UK 240v/50Hz electricity is used. This can injure people so electrical plugs are designed so that live electrical pins are never exposed. Two forms of Poka-yoke are used here:
- The ‘3 pins’, Live, neutral and earth are positioned and orientated are such that the plug can only fit one way in the socket.
- The pins are insulated near the plug body so that electric shock is not possible when the plug is being pushed in, this also means that if the plug is not fully inserted the current will still pass, but electric shock is not possible since only the insulated portion of the pins is exposed.
Of course there are many more, but I hope this gives you a few examples you can use in lean training courses, or just impress people at a party with your knowledge of Poka-yoke !
This works well in bigger groups, and also groups that know each other relatively well.
Ask people to write on a single ’post-it’ note, 3 things about themselves that they think nobody else would know.
A twist on this is ask for 2 true and 2 false statement. tell the group to keep the statements secret and do all they can to hide their identity, perhaps disguise their writing.
Give a few minutes then you collect the ‘post-it notes’, mix them up and stick to a wall.
Pick a few and read them out, the group have to collectively decide on who they think it is. If correct the post gets moved to one side, if incorrect remains on the wall. Of course the person who’s ‘post-it’ note is being read out must not give the game away.
The key is – just pick a few at random. You can also save a few for later in the day.
You will find that people will just go and look at the wall during the breaks. Then when you wish to focus the group and the start of the next session simple read a few more out. Keep returning to the ‘Post-its’ that have not been guessed in order, slowly eliminating them as the group guess the identity of the person who wrote the note. Some times a small prize like a chocolate bar adds an incredible amount of competition !
Some of the answers can be really revealing. I once had a person who did dry stone brick walling as a hobby and even one person who was in the Circus for a short time.
This is a great exercise to break the ice at a training session, although you will require a few old T-shirts.
Kids love this one as well !
or if you would like to see it in English try this link
The one we would recommend is from a company called Bizagi.
This is an excellent, easy to use, piece of software that is very intuitive and best of all it’s free.
The Bizagi site is full of tutorials and helpful videos etc
With very little practice your will be able to input and edit diagrams, add notes and output into a number of different formats. With a little more skill you can even auto generate reports and other goodies.
The software can be found at www.bizagi.com . The freeware can be found under the products tab and then the download tab.