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Contamination, Perception and The Story of the Dirty Rug

Posted by on Dec 3, 2015 in Continuous Improvement, Customer Satisfaction, Process Improvement, Product Quality | 1 comment

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working with a relay manufacturer in China.  They wanted help implementing lean in their stamping operation, reducing changeover times and help resolving some long standing quality issues.  During my initial visit, they told me that one of their biggest problems was product contamination due to dirt, dust, human skin, fibers, etc.  As they took me on a tour of the facility, I was impressed with some of their practices to prevent contamination.  Everyone wore smocks, hats, and booties on their shoes...

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How a Lonely $25 Grease Gun Contributed to a $1Million Problem!

Posted by on Nov 30, 2015 in Continuous Improvement, Efficiency, Lean, Process Improvement | 0 comments

Many of us go to work each day, do our thing, and feel pretty good that we gave our organization a good days work.  But how many of us go to work each day and really think about how we can cut cost and save our organization time and money.  We’re all running around trying to get things done and never have time to think about how we can improve the process.  The following is a true story that will prove my point. Several years ago, I was working with a client that wanted to implement lean in their organization.  After some discussion,...

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Don’t Let Excessive Motion Sabotage Your Operation

Posted by on Feb 25, 2015 in Continuous Improvement, Efficiency, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Process Improvement | 0 comments

A simple, but effective tool to help you eliminate waste due to motion is the spaghetti diagram.  You start by getting a layout of the area or by drawing a simple sketch.  The idea is to observe an employee perform a task and document all the movement the employee makes in performing that task.  Figure 1 is a spaghetti of a change over process on a machine.  As you can see there is a lot of movement from one station of the machine to another and also to a table and bench across the aisle where tools and supplies are kept. The objective is...

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Use a Gemba Walk to Help You Understand Your Process

Posted by on Feb 22, 2015 in Continuous Improvement, Lean, Process Improvement | 0 comments

A simple, but effective tool to help you better understand a process is a “gemba walk.”  Gemba is a Japanese word for “where the work takes place,” and so a gemba walk is nothing more than taking a walk in the area where the actual work is occurring.  Some of you may remember the term “management by walking around” that was popular many years ago. This is similar, but has a different focus.  In order to get the most from the gemba walk you must observe and keep the the following points in mind: Is there...

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A Successful CI Program Depends on Strong Project Management Fundamentals

Posted by on Dec 26, 2014 in Continuous Improvement, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Problem Solving, Process Improvement, Six Sigma | 0 comments

I’ve seen it happen more than once where a company starts down the path of Lean, Six Sigma, or Problem Solving to only change course in mid-stream.  It happens for many reasons – lack of resources, underestimating the time required to complete projects, allowing scope creep, project champions and sponsors that don’t ask the right questions, not putting the correct controls in place to prevent the problem from returning, lack of follow-up, and poorly trained project leaders, etc.  Any and all of these can cause an...

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Mapping Business Processes Isn’t That Difficult

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Continuous Improvement, Efficiency, Lean, Process Improvement | 1 comment

  Process mapping is a very useful tool that not only helps you document your current process but can also serve as a framework for making processes more consistent and efficient. Just last week, I had the opportunity to lead a group of 23 HR professionals and develop a process map for their on-boarding for new hires.  All were from the same company, but represented about eight locations spread across the country.  During the morning session we reviewed basic lean concepts, the seven forms of waste, and process mapping fundamentals.  I...

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Eight Reasons Why Six Sigma Works

Posted by on Apr 23, 2014 in Six Sigma | 0 comments

As I was getting ready for an upcoming training class, I came across the following reasons why Six Sigma has been so successful for many years and thought I’d share it with you.  It is taken from the Sept. 1999 issue of Quality Progress, “Why Should Statisticians Pay Attention to Six Sigma?” by R.D. Snee. Bottom line results Upper management involvement Disciplined approach (DMAIC) Short project completions (typically 3 – 6 months) Clearly defined measures of success Infrastructure of trained individuals (black belts...

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How Good Are You As An Organization? How Good Do You Want To Be?

Posted by on Apr 23, 2014 in Continuous Improvement, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Process Improvement | 0 comments

Over the years, much has been written about the pros and cons of lean and Six Sigma.  People often complain about the training costs, the infrastructure required, the teams of green and black belts, and so on, but in my 40+ years of experience nothing has proven to be more successful at getting things improved than a combination of lean and Six Sigma.  I’m not talking about ten, twenty, or thirty percent improvement, but substantial improvement of sixty to seventy percent or greater!  It doesn’t matter what the process is!  It...

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Five Green Belt Projects Rock with a Combined Yearly Savings of $743,000!

Posted by on Mar 19, 2014 in Continuous Improvement, Efficiency, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Process Improvement | 0 comments

Last fall I had the opportunity to conduct a Lean Six Sigma training class at Kent State University, Trumbull Branch.  The training concentrates on teaching the participants how to identify and eliminate waste using the various lean techniques and how to reduce process variation by concentrating on the 6M’s (Man, Machine, Material, Method, Measurement, and Mother Nature).  Participants are then required to identify a project at their work place and use the tools and techniques to make improvements in order to become certified.  All...

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New Ideas, Experimentation and Faster Change Must Be The New Norm

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Continuous Improvement, Efficiency, Process Improvement | 0 comments

We’ve all heard the adage, “If you’re not changing, you’re standing still and falling behind!” many times in the last 15 years.  But I think it is even more appropriate today in the fast paced world we live in.  Look around and you’ll see companies that were thriving a few short years ago are now struggling just to keep the doors open.  Why is that? I think part of it is that organizations fall into the trap that the status quo is fine, it’s working, and if it’s not broke, leave it alone....

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