Process Improvement Partners


Tips and Tools for a More Effective Workplace

Posts tagged Kaizen
Little Things Mean A Lot

A global consumer goods manufacturer was experiencing high levels of downtime, jams, and long changeovers on a critical production line. They invited Process Improvement Partners to their plant to observe and discuss the problem and identify opportunities for improvement. After reviewing performance, we took a walk to the line. The line was running, and after a description of line components, it became apparent there were quick opportunities to improve performance of the line. The techniques we would use were quite basic: leveling, squaring, aligning, and centering of products with the process. It seemed so simple, and the customers were skeptical. We suggested a five-day Kaizen to improve line reliability, scheduled for January 2019.

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Lead from the Front – The Story of the Pink Tools

A large, multi-national company started their Lean journey in 2010. The company brought in consultants, who facilitated and guided Kaizen events and coached leaders at every manufacturing site around the world. One of their plants, in central Ohio, had a strong culture of employee engagement and was expected to lead the other plants in positive outcomes resulting from the Kaizen events. Early on, they weren’t able to identify an internal leader of their continuous improvement journey, so I was asked to act as the interim “Lean Champion” for the plant.

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Even the Most Organized Person Can Improve

A global ceilings manufacturer wanted to improve the safety and productivity of its testing facility. Over the years, many capabilities had been added to the facility without regard to the needs of the technicians who worked there. Because of this and the lack of a managing system to ensure the organization and productivity of the facility, the technicians took it upon themselves to hold an annual “cleanup week” at the end of the year. All technicians would stop their project work and devote their time to go through equipment, materials, and spaces and clean out any clutter they felt they could get rid of.

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The Team Has More Power Than It Thinks

A leading consumer products company shipped millions of boxes of goods weekly. Most of the time, large quantities of the same products were shipped on a wooden pallet, and loaded on a truck. The distribution center employees were used to picking full pallets of products out of racks, placing one label on the entire pallet, and then, placing the pallet of goods on a truck.  In recent years, Amazon entered into an agreement with the company, and turned their efforts upside down.

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From Russia with Love: The Spirit of Kaizen Lives in All of Us

A Russian ceilings manufacturing plant asked me to help them facilitate their strategic road map in 2017. This was an activity they did annually since the plant opened in 2015. I had been to Russia one time before, during construction of the plant, so I had some experience travelling there and working with the people. This time, I would be coaching their continuous improvement leader in how to organize and facilitate this important session.

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Listen To Your People, People

A Research and Development team wanted to create a three-year strategic plan. Their goal was to reduce the time it takes from a new product idea to launch of the new product.  Many of the team members believed “you can’t schedule invention.” Working with the team leader, the Research and Development Director, we decided to focus on the work leading up to and supporting the invention, even if we couldn’t specify when an invention would occur. We agreed to use Value Stream Mapping as the approach to help the team accomplish their goals.

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Go See for Yourself – The Best Selling Tool There Is

In 2006, our Kaizen team was working on improving changeover time for a painting operation. After reviewing changeover reduction techniques with the team, we took a walk to the line to observe a changeover. The team watched the paint technician clean the front of the paint booth with water for approximately 10 minutes. After that, he walked behind the booth for a few minutes and then came back to work on the front of the paint booth. None of the team members had followed him to see what he had been doing in the back of the booth.

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The Pursuit of Creativity

In my years of running Kaizen events, I never saw anything as powerful as a creativity approach called 3P – Production Preparation Process. The goal is to eliminate waste in the design of a new or existing process or product in the maximum way possible, unlocking the creativity of the team in ways most of them have not experienced. In 2016 I was fortunate enough to experience this approach through the eyes of the man who invented it, Chihiro Nakao.

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