Implementing lean in manufacturing is a tough but rewarding endeavor. Companies often report at least some turnover during the process. Is this normal? What (if anything) should managers and lean coaches do as part of the change management process to prevent losing team members?
- February 4, 2021 / by Patricia Hatem
Perhaps the hardest part to get started with continuous improvement is figuring out how and where to start. Change is hard, especially where teams are concerned, and the thought of stumbling at the outset is scary. One continuous improvement (CI) launch in particular comes to mind when I think about the ups and downs of this kind of initiative. Nearly two decades ago when we were first formally launching CI, our team had many conversations that seemed to go in circles. We also received lots of advice — mostly about which tool to embrace first, such as “start with 5S, it’s the foundation.” Why was there so much confusion around something that was to bring clarity to the business? The biggest thing I’ve learned since those early projects is that companies often make things harder than they need to be. But that’s not all I’ve discovered along the way.
- October 21, 2020 / by Patricia Hatem
Are manufacturers aware they have hidden production capacity? Companies that find and free up hidden production capacity can avoid costly equipment purchases, open the door for additional sales, or reduce the time and cost of existing production.
I’ve been a part of organizations that were struggling to satisfy customer demand — we simply could not produce enough product, or at least the right product at the right time. Determining how to resolve the issue would often put the operations engineering and production planning teams at odds. The solution most obvious to engineering was to continue running products in basically the same lot sizes, but at higher speeds. This approach required expensive new equipment. Besides the equipment purchase, there were other significant costs: inventory builds, downtime for installation, debug after installation, and operator training.
- August 28, 2020 / by Patricia Hatem
Manufacturers serious about improving OEE need to invest in automated data collection. Though the intention of manual data collection is good, this approach doesn’t provide real-time insight or the level of accuracy and detail that an automated data collection can produce. Perhaps more importantly, automated data collection helps you shift employees’ attention to high-value work like running machines and solving problems that hinder operational performance.
- August 6, 2020 / by Patricia Hatem
Manufacturers must be nimble; it is essential they have a methodology to protect and sustain manufacturing performance during turbulent times. Companies hungry to achieve operational excellence are continually assessing their performance versus their plan, questioning why they are not hitting KPIs.
- July 8, 2020 / by Patricia Hatem
Production scheduling in manufacturing is complex; it’s difficult to produce a production schedule that is both achievable and meets business requirements. Have you ever been part of an organization where the production planner’s life seems like groundhog day?…Every day, that person adjusts and re-issues the master production schedule? If so, you probably saw lots of frustration and people continually scrambling — not just the shop floor and other internal operations teams, but also suppliers and customers. Operations has to readjust crew and equipment plans, suppliers have to rush orders, and customers often receive less than what they need. Many organizations look squarely at the production planner to fix the issue. The reality is that production scheduling isn’t just about production planning software; a cross-functional approach is required for success.
- May 28, 2020 / by Patricia Hatem
A lot of companies wonder why the production schedule gets off track, and why there’s so much angst between production planners and shop floor people. “This production schedule is ridiculous! We just ran that last week! What are they thinking in the office — do they even have a clue?” Those are statements I've heard more times than I'd like to admit, and it's tough to hear. People with these (and similar) comments are clearly frustrated and fatigued by the situation; they are simply tired of it! Fortunately, there are lots of ways a manufacturer can create alignment and balance between shop floor staff and production planners.
- May 12, 2020 / by Patricia Hatem
- April 7, 2020 / by Patricia Hatem