Don't waste time on Strategy Deployment (Hoshin Kanri) | David Bovis

"Where people put the effort into it and understand the principles and why they work fully, Hoshin Kanri can unlock enormous potential throughout an organisation."


Michel Baudin's comments:

Great article. As a condition for success in implementing Hoshin Planning, at least in Manufacturing, I would add timing. The organization must be ready for it, and it is, for example, after a number of successful, local improvement projects have led people to say "These are great, but what do they add up to? And where do they lead us?" Hoshin Planning can then help them figure out their own answers and provide a structure for moving forward.

In the list of failure causes for Hoshin Planning, I would also add the lingering influence of Management-By-Objectives (MBO), which keeps managers obsessed with gaming metrics instead of doing the work. I think it is what you mean when you say that Hoshins should not be formulated in terms of metrics, but it should be made clear that Hoshin Planning replaces MBO; it is not an add-on to it.

See on - lean manufacturing

Does Historical Accuracy Matter?

Cuckoo clock from the Black Forest

The most famous line in The Third Man is Orson Welles's addition to the script:

"In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

65 years later, Paul Krugman opened his editorial in today's New York Times with:

"Ah, Switzerland, famed for cuckoo clocks..."

With all due respect to Paul Krugman, I believe this fame came from the movie, because cuckoo clocks are not from Switzerland but from the Black Forest region of Germany.

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The World's Most Dangerous Job? | James Lawther

"You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet, but according to some of the more reliable sources, during World War II:

  • Over 12,000 Bomber Command aircraft were shot down
  • 55,500 aircrew died.
  • The life expectancy of a Lancaster bomber was 3 weeks
  • Tail-gunners were lucky if they survived four missions."



Michel Baudin's comments:

This is a great story both about effective visualization of series of events in space-time and about proper interpretation in the face of sample bias.

Manufacturing, thankfully, is less dangerous than flying bombers in World War II was, but it is still more dangerous than it should be. Posting the locations of injuries on a map of the human body is also an effective way to identify which body parts are most commonly affected, and which safety improvements are most effective.

But are all injuries reported? Many organizations blame the victims for lowering their safety metrics, and discourage reporting. As a consequence, we can expect under-reporting and a bias towards injuries severe enough that reporting is unavoidable.

If you get data on an entire population, or if you thoughtfully select a representative sample, you can avoid bias, but many of the most commonly used samples are biased, often in ways that are difficult to figure out.

Customer surveys of product quality, for example, are biased by self-selection of the respondents. Are unhappy customers more likely to take the opportunity to vent than happy customers to praise? If so, to what extent? The effect of self-selection is even stronger for posting reviews on websites.

See on - lean manufacturing

Not Exactly Poka-Yoke and Chaku-Chaku

"Japanese automobile manufacturing methods are adopted by American competitors. Watch the concept of poka-yoke, meaning "correct" and chaku-chaku, meaning "one worker, several tasks" in the manufacture of rear view mirrors."


Michel Baudin's comments:

An interesting video, but "Poka-Yoke" and "Chaku-Chaku" don't mean what the narration says they do. And they are not "Japanese" methods but methods invented by specific individuals in specific companies that happened to be in Japan. Likewise, the assembly line is not an "American" method but a method invented by P.E. Martin, Charles Sorensen and others at Ford.

"Poka-Yoke" doesn't just mean "correct." More specifically, a Poka-Yoke is a device integrated in the production process to prevent human error or detect it immediately without adding any labor. Checking bar codes on parts, as shown in a video, doesn't qualify as a Poka-Yoke because it adds labor, and error prevention devices that add labor are ineffective because they are by-passed under pressure.

The video shows an operator attending to a sequence of tasks and calls it "Chaku-Chaku." There is, however, ,more to Chaku-Chaku than this, such as automatic processing at each station, with automatic unloading and chutes between stations, so that the work of the operator is focused on checking the part after an operation and loading it into the next.

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Hong Kong Power Company Holds QC Circle Convention | Quality Alchemist

CLP Power Quality Control Circle (QCC) Convention was established in 2002. It aims to offer our staff a platform to submit any creative ideas they may have to improve processes, procedures and overall operations in the form of a proposal. CLPP QCC Convention is one of key quality culture activities and HKSQ exco members were honored to be invited as guests for the Convention. Moreover, our former chairman Dr. Aaron Tong was one of judges.


Michel Baudin's comments:

The QC circle, born in Japan in the early 1960s and the object of a short-lived fad in the US and Europe in the 1980s, lives on as a useful tool in organizations that stuck with it, including many companies in Japan, China, India, and other Asian countries.

CLP Power has been an electrical utility serving Hong Kong for 100 years. In the jury that awarded prizes to circle projects at this convention was my friend Aaron Tong, former chair of the Hong Kong Society for Quality (HKSQ).

See on - lean manufacturing

Review of "Engineering the Revolution" by Ken Alder

This book will entertain and inform you if you have been struggling with issues like the proper role of government in the economy and in technology development, gaining acceptance for new technology in a society, the nature of the engineering profession and its social role, engineering education, or meritocracy in general. It is about events that happened between 200 and 300 years ago in France, but the technical, political and social challenges it describes are still with us today, worldwide.

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Bridging the Gap between Buyers and Suppliers | Robert Moakler | IndustryWeek

"Creating high performance, collaborative alliances between buyers and U.S. suppliers will ensure rebuilding a strong and sustainable American supply chain."



Michel Baudin's comments:

Robert Moakler reiterates the well known fact that collaboration between suppliers and customers is a win/win, and offers an e-sourcing platform as the better mousetrap that will make it happen.

As COO of an "online marketplace exclusively developed for the American manufacturing industry," Moakler is forthright about where he is coming from. But is lack of technology the reason why adversarial, arm's length relations between suppliers and customers remain the norm?

My own findings on this matter -- summarized in Lean Logistics, on pp. 342-350 -- is that each side stands to gain a short-term advantage from unilaterally breaking a collaborative relationship, and that the business history of the past 25 years shows examples of this happening.

On the customer side, a new VP of purchasing can instruct buyers to use the information suppliers have shared to force price concessions. Conversely, suppliers can leverage intimate, single-sourcing, collaborative relations with a customer to charge above-market prices.

None of these behaviors is viable in the long term, but not all managers care about the long term, and the toughest challenge in establishing collaborative relations is defusing well-founded fears about the future behavior of the other side.

While wishing Mr. Moakley the best of luck in his business, I don't believe technology is the problem.

See on - lean manufacturing

When Finance Runs the Factory | William Levinson | Industry Week

"Henry Ford achieved world-class results with three key performance indicators (KPIs), none of which were financial. His successors' changeover to financial metrics, on the other hand, caused the company to forget what we now call the Toyota production system."


Michel Baudin's comments:

Yes, giving power over manufacturing companies to accountants, as American industry massively did in the 1950s yielded disastrous results. The summary given in this article's lead paragraph, however, does not match the historical record from other sources.
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Setup Reduction Methodology | Alejandro Sibaja

"We may think, based in all the information about Lean Manufacturing, that many tools and methods are well understood, unfortunately on real live there is many misunderstanding about them, that’s why I decided to write this article, for one of the most popular and known tool, SMED."




Michel Baudin's comments:

It's good to see that not everyone has forgotten SMED or is taking it for granted. When you bring it up with manufacturing managers nowadays, they often respond with "Oh yeah, we had some consultants show us how to do this three years ago."

"And how long do you take to set up this machine today?"

"I am not sure. Maybe 90 minutes..."

They think SMED is yesterday's news, but they are not doing it, and they are often confused about its purpose. They think it is to increase machine utilization, as opposed to flexibillity.

Sibaja's article is a valuable introduction to the subject. I would have called it "Setup Time Reduction" rather than "Setup Reduction," which might imply that you are making fewer setups, or spending less time on setups overall. It's not what SMED lets you do. Instead, your total setup time budget remains the same, but you are using it to make more setups and produce smaller lots of more different products.

I would also have put more emphasis on the use of video recordings in analyzing setup processes. You don't just show up on the shop floor with a camera; instead, you have to prepare the ground carefully, secure the consent of the participants upfront, and know how to use the camera to capture the relevant details.

Sibaja's last sentence is about using the information "in your next Kaizen Event," which implies that Kaizen events are an appropriate method to manage SMED projects. It is not my experience. You might kick start a SMED project with a Kaizen Event, but not to finish it. Often, to achieve quick setups, you have to make changes to the machine and the tooling that require patient work over time. Standardizing the dimensions of 300 dies, for example, may take a year of incremental progress.

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Lean Lies | Wiegand's Watch

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

This year I've certainly visited 20 companies that have an American leadership or are managed by private equity companies.

With all the same phenomenon: Lean audit compliance 90% and above.

I visit every year at least 50 to 60 companies. Their degree of Leanness is in my estimation at best 70%, and at the companies mentioned above no higher than 50%. It's not being mean or petty, but just that these companies have not understood it.

In  one of them, I walk with two managers into the shop. I remain standing there, while  both of them keep going. After 20 meters, they notice that I am not following,and return.  Then we need an hour to walk these 20 meters again because, in these 20 meters, we encounter an abundance of issues with order and cleanliness, the environmental, safety and quality, as well as waste.

Another company, with a Lean grade of 92% is highly automated, with an OEE supposedly of 73%. During the tour, 50% of the machines were idle, and then you had enough inventory over inventory to go crazy. At the given bottleneck - no SMED - no Lean Maintenance - nothing that would optimize the most critical point in the production process - and then a Lean grade of  92%?

"Wonderful, the Germans!"

Again, another company pursues excellence in Lean, TPM and CI.  It has assigned members to the CI process, organized to push it through, and provided everything you must have to be successful. And ... all activities fizzle out almost entirely ... Lean is processed, there is no steering of CI and everything stops  at department boundaries, and there is therefore no interface cross-optimization.  And  worst of all... it is not measured.

As you know - if I do not measure, I have no success.

It reminds me of a project. There were 5 employees in quality management who did nothing but accompany audits, prepare for them, and post-processed them.

What nonsense! I closed this department immediately and transferred the responsibility to manufacturing and department heads. It took 4 audits with terrible results until all had heard that it is YOUR process that needs to be experienced.

Then something unexpected happened - yet actually predictable.

Suddenly, the audits were not a matter of quality, but the leadership, the champion and team leader. Suddenly quality was in their heads, because they have been responsible for the quality itself and suddenly there were YOUR quality processes.

Auditors came to me and told me something they had never experienced. Although one could forget the quality manuals confidently, the external auditors have not let them fall through, but were thrilled - the processes were well visualized and followed.

Lean audit compliance 90% and better means, for example, that all employees know what Lean is, detect and eliminate waste, adhere to good housekeeping, Lean thinking and strive for improvement.

Done correctly, the Lean audit helps maintain the set standards, identify problem areas, describe areas of activity and measure progress. If the Lean audit is seen as an obligation - as a kind of show for the owners - it does not really help the company - it is just another scam or metrics game, done for its own sake, and with nothing to do with Lean

Michel Baudin's comments:

For many reasons, management tends to overstate achievements, and I could add to Wiegand's examples. I remember being stunned when the plant manager told me that they had started their Lean implementation 8 years earlier, when I had not seen any trace of it on the shop floor.

Or my guide in another plant telling me about an assembly line "We have already optimized this, now we are working on scheduling," while it was obvious that much of the improvement potential had been left on the table. That encounter was one reason I banned the word "optimization" from my vocabulary, as I had found it used primarily to justify not pursuing continuous improvement.

But I part company with Wiegand when he seems to agree that there can be such a thing as a meaningful Lean score, and that "Leanness" can be measured by audit compliance. To me, Lean never has been about having a list of practices in place that an auditor can check off on a form. No matter what the list is, a "Lean score" belongs with IQs, food calories and other pseud0-scientific, misleading bad metrics.

Such scoring methods push managers to make their plants look Lean for the benefit of auditors. This is what you need to do to become certified as a "Lean supplier" or to win prizes. It is not what you need to do to improve quality, productivity, delivery, safety, or morale. It leads to place andon lights on each machine in a row to quickly score more points, instead of pursuing SMED.  You really need SMED to support your customers, but it would not immediately boost your audit score, and it therefore goes on the back burner.