© Lie Cycle Engineering 2012
I I had a nickel or every time a client has said, “…but you don’t understand, we’re dierent,” I would be a rich man. While it is true thatthere are dierences, this is too oten an excuse we use or not doing what we need to do—acknowledge our shortcomings and admit ourimperections. Then and only then can we overcome limitations and truly achieve our ull potential.This is especially true when it comes to continuous improvement. I have lost count o the times when I have visited plants that haveembraced or adopted Lean, Six Sigma, TPM or one o the other alphabet soup o continuous improvement philosophies only to nd theyreally have not. In many o these plants, the leadership, implementation team, and sometimes even the associates on the foor know all theright words and can parrot all o the important words. But it quickly becomes clear they do not really understand what the words mean orthe real philosophy o continuous improvement.In a recent visit to a large discrete manuacturing plant, I heard the V.P. o Operations espouse the merits o Lean and the value o Kaizen.What he was really taking about was Kaizen Blitz—short duration, high intensity improvements, not Kaizen—a methodical, long-termcontinuous improvement process. When asked, he armed that their transormation rom almost totally reactive to world-class would beaccomplished in a ew months and with no other eort than a ew teams implementing Kaizen. The instant gratication o Kaizen Blitz,even though gains are not sustainable, was his and the company’s preerred solution, rather than a slower, steady journey to sustainableexcellence. How one can expect brute orce changes, such as those created by blitz activities, will survive without changing the culturethat enable the deciencies in the rst place escapes me. Unless and until the enabling culture is changed, nothing is sustainable. As in this example, we have become a culture that is obsessed with instant gratication and short-term ocus. Read any trade magazineor listen to the multitude o continuous improvement consultancies and you will be bombarded with proven solutions to your problems.Although the solutions vary, most share a common theme: the solution is quick, cheap and painless. Some ocus on maintenance; otherson reliability and still others on production improvement. Maybe it is just me, but none o these solutions and their associated gains ringtrue.A statement I hear oten is that maintenance is the sole reason a company cannot capture and retain market share. No matter how hard Itry, the logic behind this escapes me. I one really looks into the “maintenance deciencies” that plague most plants, the true cause is notmaintenance. Most deciencies, regardless o where they are generated, maniest as maintenance issues, e.g. breakdowns, unplannedcost and reduced output. The old saw “One operator can wreck a machine aster than ten mechanics can repair it” is true. To resolve these“maintenance deciencies” one must address the sources o the visible symptoms and that means deciencies in production, operations,engineering, procurement and other unctions whose combined deciencies create them. Anything short o a holistic—a total approach tocontinuous improvement must result in partial, less than desired results.I have learned with absolute certainty that there are no silver bullets—no quick solutions to the complex issues that must be resolved beoreany company can capture and retain sucient market share and margins to assure continuance and protability. Once this simple act isaccepted, one can begin the process o reengineering with some assurance o success. Where should you start? There can be only one answer—everywhere, but with production or manuacturing as the ocal point. Theinterdependency o plants and corporations orces a holistic approach. Think about how you would improve your production organization.The best place to start is to eliminate variability in the way work is planned and executed. I one looks at the results o each operating teamand shit on a day-to-day basis, the level o variability is clear. Next, eliminate the waste and losses by value-stream mapping all o the work activities required to eectively produce the requisite output; create value-added standard processes and procedures and then enorcethem.
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“There are no silver bullets; change takes time.”
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