One of my earliest lessons in Lean was to consider the logistical complexities of manufacturing.
I have, over the years, laid down a challenge to managers and business owners, to put up a camera with timelapse recording to see how much time people were walking away from their core value adding tasks.
This is not in a way to catch people out, but to show that commonly people are having to search and locate vital pieces of equipment, tools, materials and information to enable them to do their work.
These are classically identified as Muda of Transportation and Movement.
On one such occasion a business owner set up such a camera and was shocked to review the overall results, which by his estimates equated to something like 30% of the time was spent on search for stuff and clarifying information. On a brighter note, he got the whole team together and asked for their help to identify what was causing the issues and set about to make some changes n the process and simple continuous improvement.
My advice is to look to seperate the “fetching and carrying” from the actual work, creating a form of standardised work for one or more team members to undertake all logistical tasks, ensuring the production flows smoothly, without interuption.
Often referred to as Mizusumashi or water spider, the logistical operators are like the best waiters in the finest dining, making sure the diners have what they want, when they want and keep everyone happy! Their internal logistics focus ensures everything flows smoothly and when there are issues, they deal with them ahead of time.
Operators have well organise workstations and ergonomics, without having to worry about products or materials or planning information that is often governed by Kanban or sequenced supplies from internal departments.
So this is my challenge to you all, do you really have a handle on just how much waste there is in your process? I firmly believe there is always an opportunity to consolidate waste in the form of internal logistics systems and keeping everything in flow.
- Material Flow
- Information Flow
- Cash Flow!!!