Many corrugated and folding carton converters have embraced lean tools and concepts to reduce waste. I have worked with lots of them. They start out by attending conferences on lean, hosted by their trade associations, and come back home with their heads full of ideas and their arms full of training materials. After a few weeks they're not sure they're achieving what they were hoping for.
Can lean work for paperboard converters? Here are my top 10 reasons many programs haven't worked. By knowing these problems, maybe you can avoid them.
1. Focus on Training, Not Implementation
Training is essential when introducing any new tool and concept. But when the focus is on training rather than implementation, failure is assured. I know top executives who have attended lean training and went back to their facilities with these big three-ring binders and expected that these binders would create the momentum necessary to fully implement lean. It didn't happen.
The middle managers who received these three-ring binders didn't comprehend the concepts or implementation details. They then convinced top management that they should attend this two-day seminar before implementing. The middle managers then imitate their bosses, bringing back reams of material for their direct reports to absorb.
The techniques required to implement lean programs must be simply and dearly communicated by people who understand and live them. The punch line: Lean isn't 80/20 training to implementation. The ratio needs to be reversed.
2. Focus on Manufacturing Alone
Many facilities introduce lean concepts and tools in the manufacturing environment. Top management in many board converting plants fails to recognize that non-manufacturing processes generate more waste than manufacturing. Lean is an enterprise issue, not just manufacturing.
3. No Focus on the Bottom Line
Top management is always eager to disseminate lean tools and concepts, but it fails to help all the players understand the connection to the bottom line. That's why many employees spend an enormous amount of time working on a lot of trivia while ignoring a few critical bottom-line issues. Some facilities spend months conducting value-stream mapping just to find out where the value stream is. They ignore the profit and loss statements that could have provided the value-stream leakages within hours.
4. No Disciplined Path for Problem Solving
Ever hear about 5S? 6S? 7S? The 5S (sort, straighten, scrub, standardize, sustain) is a Japanese approach to lean focus on organizing the work place and minimizing the downtimes related to machine setups. Many users of this tool fail to realize that it alone will not solve problems related to machines. A systematic path must be followed. That systematic path is Statistical Problem Solving (SPS), which combines simple statistics and employee involvement to achieve desired results. Here's the path:
* Define the problem;
* List suspect variables;
* Prioritize selected variables using subjective rating system;
* Evaluate critical variables;
* Optimize critical variables which impact the solution;
* Monitor and measure results; and
* Reward/recognize team members.
5. Too Much Documentation
This applies to many ISO-certified facilities. Multiple levels of unnecessary documentation can end up running your facility rather than you running the documentation. This situation is shear waste. ISO standards do not call for four levels of documentation. There shouldn't be more than one.
6. Using the Wrong Tools
Many facilities use lean tools without knowing their application precisely. Tools can only be effective if applied accurately and mixed appropriately. Some use SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) without effectively applying 5S to establish an orderly workplace. No good can come of this.
7. Not Establishing Baselines
Initiating a lean application process without establishing a baseline and measuring regularly for improvement makes it impossible to determine success. The baseline should be established once you've set goals/objectives for improving selected areas. The improvement should not be less than 15 percent, and should have a direct link to the bottom fine.
8. Inadequate Follow Through
To make sure improvements have stuck they should be monitored for a minimum of nine months. Many lean practitioners fail to follow through. Benefits can only be fully achieved by ensuring solved problems stay solved.
9. No Coordination
There can be too many projects, too many priorities, too many problems and too many hats to wear. If lean is considered just another new buzzword without coordination and monitoring of all teams, it will fail.
10. No Disciplined Path for Sustaining Benefits
To get traction with a lean program, you need to follow a path that comes off the problem-solving path. These are the steps that will take you the rest of the way along your company's journey:
* Select top five bottom line-affecting items;
* Establish baseline results and performance metrics;
* Train on problem-solving concepts;
* Apply problem-solving tools to reduce waste ;
* Develop disciplined methods/controlling tools for effective implementation;
* Measure and monitor success;
* Monitor for sustainability;
* Develop procedures for sustainability; and
* Review, recognize and reward.0BM
By Baskar Kotte
Kotte is president of Quality Systems Enhancement, a quality consulting and training firm in Atlanta. He is a certified auditor with specialties in ISO, Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma programs. He can be reached at 770-518-9967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source Citation:Kotte, Baskar. "Why lean hasn't worked: just as in dieting, people fall in love with the lean concept but are felled by mistakes. Here are 10 common errors to avoid when establishing a culture of lean in your plant." Official Board Markets 82.13 (April 1, 2006): 26(3). General OneFile. Gale. Alachua County Library District. 14 Oct. 2009
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