Future of Lean: is robotic motion/transportation waste? | Christian Hohmann

Christian Hohmann

“Motion and transportation count among the 7 basic muda or wastes, that should be eliminated or at least reduced to their bare minimum in order to be leaner.

Now, with the probable rise of robotics, will robotic motion (and transportation) still be considered a waste?”

Sourced through Chris Hohmann’s blog

 

Michel Baudin‘s comments: It’s a valid question, but one that should be asked about handling and transportation automation in general, not just robots. It is also one that is not properly answered with the simplistic theory of value and waste that has been reiterated in the English-language literature on Lean for 20 years.

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7 questions to help you reduce project durations | Christian Hohmann

Christian Hohmann

“[…]Organizations dealing repeatedly with projects will soon develop templates of Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) holding the most current tasks and milestones. These canvasses speed up somewhat the project initiation and ensure some degree of standardization.

Over time though, the copy-pasting from one project to the next, the addition of “improvements” and requirements as well as countermeasures to problems kind of inflate the templates and the projects. This, in turn, extends the project’s duration as every additional task not only adds its allocated time to completion, but also the safety margin(s) the doer and/or project manager will add on top.[…]”

Sourced through Chris Hohmann

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

The project management literature astonishingly fails to provide guidance on the art of breaking a project down into tasks. The “Body of Knowledge” tells you what a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) should look like but not how you actually break a project down into meaningful pieces, whether it is a dinner party, the construction of a bridge, or a moon shot. For a manager who has to make a plan, this makes templates irresistible: instead of thinking, you just fill in the blanks.

Chris’s questions are certainly relevant but I would like to go further and propose a few rules for generating a WBS.

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Routledge Companion to Lean Management | Ed. Torbjørn Netland

“It’s finally here. The Routledge Companion to Lean Management has been published. 72 leading authors from 15 countries summarize the need-to-know about lean, as it continues its spread from Toyota’s assembly operations to healthcare and beyond. ”

Sourced through Torbjørn Netland’s better operations blog

Michel Baudin‘s full disclosure: I am one of the “72 leading authors” of this book, as you can in the cloud below. I contributed and overview and case study on Lean Logistics. I have, however, not received my own copy yet, so I can’t comment any further.

 

#Lean, #RoutledgeCompanionToLean

Lean As A Regenerative Value System | Robert W. “Doc” Hall | Compression Institute

“Lean thinking needs transformation, major expansion, and a basic shift in objectives – from improving operational efficiency to something much bigger: Continuous Regeneration of ourselves, our human economy, and of the natural world. All three depend on each other. To do that we must learn to think more than technique deep.”

Sourced through the Compression Institute.

Michel Baudin‘s comments: While I agree with Doc Hall that there is more to life in society than manufacturing or even business operations and that we need to continuously rethink the conclusions we have reached on “ourselves, our human economy, and of the natural world,” I don’t see much value in putting all of these deep meditations under Lean, which I see as nothing but a convenient label to enable car companies to adopt Toyota’s system without referencing a competitor, and to allow organizations outside the car industry to borrow and adapt concepts from this system.

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Lean’s Crazy Relatives | Jim Womack | Planet Lean [Review]

 

vw-assembly-line“Every family has a few members who are eccentric and problematic – like the proverbial crazy uncle locked in the attic. While this makes for fun conversations at family events – provided these folks don’t attend! – crazy relatives can become a real problem if their antics reflect on the whole family. In the lean movement my two candidates for crazy relatives are Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford, who continue to cause us trouble 101 and 69 years after passing from this life.[…]”

Sourced  from: Planet Lean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: First, thanks to Bob Emiliani, for bringing this article to my attention through his own critique of it. I disagree with the article too, but for different reasons. Womack wants to put a distance between his Lean and the legacy of Taylor and Ford, by branding them “crazy relatives.”

I see them as precursors, alongside many others, not crazy relatives. When implementing concepts from Toyota outside Japan, it is better salesmanship to embrace local precursors and stand on their shoulders than to dismiss them. Lean/TPS goes down easier when presented as a new chapter in an existing, familiar story than as an alien approach, and I believe this is why Toyota’s PR literature emphasizes the link to Ford.

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Why I don’t like Lean houses, except one | Christian Hohmann | LinkedIn Pulse

Christian Hohmann

“I never liked the (Toyota inspired) Lean houses and their many variants. First all these models are generally understood as prescriptive rather than descriptive, thus those new to Lean tend to adopt and copy one model without necessarily understanding its real meaning. The building blocks of Lean houses are principles, methods and tools, reinforcing the feeling that it’s all about “techniques”.

The house building metaphor also suggests a beginning with sound foundations, robust pillars and when the roof is atop, the organization is done. We’ll see later it is not in this way. To add to the confusion, with the broad choice of variants, which is the right one to look at?”

Sourced through LinkedIn Pulse

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

tps-house-300x244I share your reservations about the many “Houses of Lean” floating around, but my main concern with them is vagueness. The descriptive versus prescriptive confusion that you bring up is one concern. In one diagram I am looking at right now, “Heijunka” sits on top of “Stability” and underneath “Pull System,” “Takt Time” and “Continuous Flow.” Whatever it is intended to mean, it can’t be that you should implement Heijunka as soon as your processes are stable. Given that there are very few companies outside of the Toyota supply chain that have even implemented Heijunka, it is clearly an advanced topic, not to be tackled until you have done many other things, including items listed above it.

The basic operation when drawing a house of Lean is stacking. It has a well-defined meaning in computer networks, where you talk about “protocol stacks.” For example, the worldwide web sits on top of the internet, and it means that, behind the web face it shows you, your browser uses the internet protocol to communicate with the world, in ways that would be unintelligible to you. The meaning is obviously different in a “House of Lean,” but what is it? And what does it mean to draw a manager inside?

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Top And Bottom 10 Posts Of All Time

The beauty of blogging is receiving feedback from readers in days rather in the months or years it takes with journal articles or books, and this feedback in invariably surprising. Casual remarks about a topic you don’t think essential are hits, while in-depth discussions of topics you care deeply about are duds. Overall, the 753 posts and 7 pages of this blog have logged a total of 558,249 page views since its inception in October, 2011, and elicited 2,213 comments.

The most popular post is a comparison of multiple approaches to improvement in operations. It is not surprising. What is, on the other hand, is the first runner up, a technical discussion of safety stocks, and the means of setting their levels.

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Formula 1 Pit Stop 1950 to 2013

William Botha posted the following Youtube video in the TPS Principles and Practice discussion group on LinkedIn:

It contrasts a Formula 1 racing pit stop at the Indianapolis 500 in 1950 with one in 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. The time the car was stopped went from 67 to 3 seconds.

The 1950 pit stop used 4 people for 67 seconds, which works out to 4 minutes and 28 seconds of labor. If we include the external setup — before the car arrives — and the cleanup afterwards, the 2013 pit stop used 17 people for 44 seconds, or 12 minutes and 28 seconds of labor. In terms of labor costs, the 2013 pit stop was therefore less “efficient.” In a race, however, cutting the car stoppage time by a factor of 22 is priceless.

Car racing is often used as a metaphor for manufacturing, with machine changeovers as pit stops. In fact, many of the pit stop tricks are used in SMED, from prepositioning everything you need to using quick attach and release tools.

More generally, we can see the production operators as the drivers working to make the product cross the finish line, and everybody else in logistics, maintenance, QA, etc. in the role of the pit crew. This casts the time of operators and materials handlers, for example, in a different light. The operators on a line work in sequence, so that, if you delay one, you delay the entire line. The materials handlers, on the other hand, work in parallel and, if one waits, it does not affect the others.

The pit crew must be ready and waiting when the car arrives, so that it can spring into action, and the car should never be waiting for the crew. Likewise, an operator on an assembly line should never wait for parts, and cutting down on materials handlers to save money is counterproductive. A key point of Lean Logistics is to focus on effectiveness first. You pursue efficiency later, but never at the expense of effectiveness, because it doesn’t pay for the organization as a whole.

 

Shortage of skills, not yet – but very soon – a wake up call (part 2) | Wiegand’s Watch

This is a translation of the bulk of Bodo Wiegand’s latest newsletter, about Lean in Germany, followed by my comments:

“In Part 1, we discussed the possibility of becoming more effective in your own work environment by stemming the flood of email and reducing the extent of meetings. In Part 2 , we want to focus on how you can optimize cooperation between employees and departments.

In production, there are precise procedures and instructions , on how a product is to be made. There, the processes are stable , documented and visual. We have not considered this to be necessary in support departments. Everyone works as he sees fit , then delivers when he is ready and at the quality he is capable of.

Sorry – in administration, we produce nothing .

We don’t! Or do we?

In any case, work is not done according to a plan or delivered just in time at a precisely defined quality. Don’t we need to? We do! We need to gradually start to handle administrative processes like production processes – because we need more effectiveness and efficiency on our office floors to reduce skill shortages and remain competitive .

It is not about takt in administration but about flow and on-time delivery. Run time, interfaces, and flexibility are the principles. I can already hear the staff complain in Development or in Construction: “For us no project is like any other – so you can’t define processes , let alone standardize. And yet 7o% to 80 % of the activities are routine and repetitive, consisting of foolishly long meetings and secretarial or travel agency work that is unrelated to project content.

Defining and standardizing the processes of development and construction saves employees valuable time , while proceeding with fixed rules and checkpoints prevents errors or detects them faster, improves the quality and timeliness of the work, and avoids interface problems, for example in making prototypes or starting up manufacturing.

I can already hear the complaints of managers in Human Resources ,  Information Technology, or Accounting : “We produce nothing – we can’t optimize anything.” The most beautiful expression I frequently hear from this faction is “Mr. Wiegand, without us, nothing runs here .” And then when I ask , what products do you make or what services do you render ? Then I see usually only blank stares.

Hello! Is hiring, challenging, and coaching employees not a service? Are indicators that show facts, or figures that support decisions not defined products? Or implementing software , delivering training, and other support functions? Of course, these are products and services.  Can we describe these products, deliver them more efficiently, standardize them, define quality requirements, and visualize their processes?

Yes, we can !

So what is the difference between the production of goods and the products in the so-called indirect areas?

None – except for the fact that the first are visible, tangible, and palpable, while the product of Administration is information – to interpret,  invisible and intangible. If it is possible, therefore, to make the information visible and to define it , then you can treat it like a product and make the processes more effective and efficient. And why do we not  do it?

We had the same problem in production 20 to 30 years ago. Processes were previously under the responsibility of  master craftsmen who delivered as they saw fit. We had to define the processes, specify interfaces, and establish quality, formulate work orders and convert from the functional organization of workshops and production areas to an organization along manufacturing processes.

I remember vividly how the Craftsmen, Workshop Supervisors , and Production Area Managers fought and defended their kingdoms. It was a long, hard struggle. Today, however,  less than 10% of companies are still aligned functionally in production. They all fought to the end, against better judgment, against the greater economic performance, and for their kingdoms.

This is what we face today every day on our office floors. The same arguments are repeated. As an acccountant said, “If we move to a process-oriented organization, the specific know-how goes down the drain.” By the way – the last major innovation in accounting — breakeven analysis —  is more than half a century old. So what kind of know-how must be centrally held, promoted, and protected ?

Do not get me wrong — we need accounting to measure our success , but not in an ivory tower, but on the spot, so you know what you need to measure and therefore can support the decision makers , thus giving guidelines to your trade (see also my article in the Book: The accountant as in-house consultant).

So we anchor the controls in the process , where  needed , and not in a functional department. If we want to raise the potential in the indirect areas , we must not look at the individual functions , but at processes across functions and optimize the functions themselves. Now you know now why it is so hard to find support for Lean Administration. But, as 12 years of Lean Administration consulting have shown , it pays. Here are a few examples :

  • Today, 900 employees in Development and Administration are doing work that used to require 1,300.
  • Capital goods are shipped six months earlier.
  • A service center saves €17M.
  • A pharmaceutical company handle 20% in sales without adding employees.
  • A government office reduced processing time from three weeks to two days .

Now how is this done? It starts with process mapping, defining products , analyzing the task structure and the job  structure,  and then optimizing the value streams . Quite simple – or not?

Unfortunately,  not quite that simple. You can make many mistakes. I have seen many process maps. Some were created from an IT perspective, others from the organization’s point of view — but why not from a customer perspective?

Others avoid analyzing the structure of the activity usually with the argument “Not acceptable to the Works Council.”

What a joke!

We have been implementing Lean administration in companies for 12 years and have never had problems with the Works Councils due to an activity structure analysis. Mostly we were rather supported with the motto: “Finally in this area something is happening.”

Often the products are not defined from a customer perspective. The optimized value streams are contradictory and  watered down by compromise at the interfaces and turned into overcomplex processes.

Why ?

Out of consideration to individuals and functions. Lean Administration projects rarely succeed from the inside out , but require external coaches to bring to light self-interests and put the process in the foreground.

You should however not be deterred by these difficulties . Especially with projects in Administration, the five success factors I so often stress  are:

  • Planning
  • Leadership commitment
  • Holistic approach
  • Resolute implementation /change in mindset
  • Measurement

The potential is large and success easy to achieve. You and your colleagues just have to really want it and, of course, start properly.

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

As many discussions of the “Lean office” do, Wiegand’s lumps together all activities other than production. Much of his letter is devoted to the standardization of office work, which he presents as essential to avoiding a skill shortage by increasing productivity. While a case can be made for the value of following documented procedures in transaction processing  like rental car issue and return, it is far-fetched for creative knowledge work like R&D.

In product development, it helps to have some discipline in managing the flow of projects through phases, with appropriate validation at various checkpoints, but there is little evidence that it is essential. The history of product development is replete with cases where all the procedures were in place but the products failed, and, on the contrary, of cases of product developers who broke the rules and succeeded.

Wiegand describes the transition from craft control to controlled, documented processes in production as a battle fought won in the past 20 to 30 years. I view it instead as a struggle that started with the industrial revolution about 1750 and is still going on, with the Lean approach to it being only the last of a long list. And it does not involve standardizing everything. If you have machines with controls that are visually obvious and mistake-proof, you don’t need instructions.

Another theme of Wiegand’s letter is the change from organization by function, where employees are in departments focused on one operation, to organization by process, where they are in teams in charge of all the operations needed to generate a finished output. It is like the change from a machining job-shop with departments for turning, milling, heat treatment, grinding, etc. to a flow shop with lines or cells that machine blanks from start to finish.

Wiegand asserts that only 10% of companies still have functional organizations in production. It is a number I have a hard time believing. I don’t believe it’s true even in Japan. In fact, the functional, or job-shop, organization is not wrong for everything. Once you have done your Runner/Repeater/Stranger analysis, it is actually what you need for Strangers. And it is not always wrong in office work either. Product development at Toyota, for example, is done by functional departments.

I am also puzzled by his description of “break-even analysis” as the last great innovation in accounting. It does not strike me as particularly advanced. What about discounted cash flows, internal rates of return, activity-based costing, and other concepts that shine a light on different aspects of operations than just break-even points?

One last comment is that Wiegand mentions “optimization” six times and “improvement” never. One of my pet peeves is that, in Lean, you always improve but never optimize, because it is, by definition, the end of improvement. I have been assured both in Germany and France, that they mean “improvement” when they say “optimization,” which begs the question of what they use when they actually mean “optimization.”

The Lean Edge: Great Content, Confusing Presentation | 2013 Management Blog Review

Often, I find myself quoting posts from The Lean Edge. The 52 authors include Art Smalley, Art Byrne, Pascal Dennis, Mike Rother, and many others whose work I follow. At one point, I participated in The Lean Edge myself; I resigned in disagreement over policy, but I keep following it.

The Lean Edge has great content, but on busy pages with an opaque organization. The pages look as if their style has not been updated since 1993.  If you want to find what Karen Martin has posted about A3s, don’t try to navigate the site. Instead, just google:

karen martin A3  site: theleanedge.org

Following is what the home page looked like this morning:

Lean Edge home page

The Lean Edge is advertised as “A dialogue between business leaders and lean authors.” As I understand the way it is supposed to work, there are two types of members:

  1. Business leaders, like Faurecia’s Catherine Chabiron, who have jobs like Process Improvement Manager in manufacturing companies.
  2. Lean authors, like the ones cited above, who have published at least one book on the topic.

Business leaders ask questions; lean authors answer. It is like a panel discussion at a conference, with the difference that, on The Lean Edge, the panel has more members than the audience. The site won’t provide you with a list of all the questions that have been asked but, if you want to know, you can google:

questions site:theleanedge.org

The authors are supposed to answer the questions but not debate each other, which actually is the sin I committed when I was participating as an author. The management of the Lean Edge is not clearly identified on the site, and the rules are not spelled out; the closest there is the list of founding members. The stated goal is to “collectively build a vision of lean management,” and disagreements among authors are deemed counterproductive. I think it is an unfortunate choice. From the posts by Art Smalley and Mike Rother on the subject of Standard Work, it is obvious that they disagree, and I would have liked to see a dialogue between them.

While there are two categories of authors — business leaders and lean authors — they are commingled in the authors’ list in the left sidebar. As a reader, it would be clearer if they were listed separately, with a profile for each individual, including, for authors, a bibliography with links to an online bookstore.

What is happening here is that The Lean Edge site is built on WordPress’s blogging platform when in fact it is not a blog. Blogging first emerged as a way for an individual to have an on-line conversation with the rest of the world. Because there was a demand for it, blogging technology was enhanced to accommodate multiple authors, but it is an awkward fit, and I find multi-author blogs usually less interesting than the ones with a strong authorial voice.

For multiple authors, the structure you really need is a discussion group or forum. Today, LinkedIn groups are the best and most successful platform I know for this purpose.  For multiple categories of authors with different roles, I don’t know what the right platform is.  Ad-hoc development may be needed.

The Lean Edge has great content, but could be improved by clearly stated and more open editorial policies, and by a thorough redesign of the web site.