Continuous Improvement

Contamination, Perception and The Story of the Dirty Rug

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...

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

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...

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Don’t Let Excessive Motion Sabotage Your Operation

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...

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Use a Gemba Walk to Help You Understand Your Process

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...

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A Successful CI Program Depends on Strong Project Management Fundamentals

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...

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Mapping Business Processes Isn’t That Difficult

  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...

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