Flow production - 7th condition
From: Norman Bodek
Please consider viewing your future production facility in
one-piece-flow. Try not to find reasons why it can't be done. Just feel that
it is possible and slowly continuously improving every day, believe it can happen.
Mr. Ohno simply focused on reducing inventory, reducing the batch size. As often
written about him, he looked at inventory like a river covering all of the manufacturing
problems: defective parts, machine problems, supplier delays, long set-ups, worker
absenteeism, missing and faulty tools and jigs, etc. With excess inventory, with large
batch sizes, factory problems like bad parts were simply discarded and you used another
one from the excess inventory. With lots of available inventory you were never
really forced to get to the root causes of those problems.
But, when you do operate in a one-piece-flow mode all of the problems that inventory hid
must now be solved immediately. And since the factory now operates in that
one-piece-flow or just-in-time, all processes: machines, people and products must all be
synchronized, must all be in flow. For when one process stops then the entire
factory stops, or at a minimum the entire manufacturing cell stops. When the factory
stops because of one problem, enormous attention is given to that process to insure that
it comes back up quickly and never happens again.
As I walked through a Toyota plant or one of their major subsidiaries, I would see the
Andon boards light up frequently indicating potential or actual problems occurring. A
worker or a machine when detecting a problem: defect, missing part, faulty machine, etc.
would trigger a light: yellow for a possible problem and red when the machine center would
stop. When red, immediately, an alarm would go off and you would see supervisors and
fellow workers running over to help the center in trouble. On my many tours I would
see this stoppage happen frequently but it only took a few seconds for the problems to be
resolved and the machines to be working again.
Hirano states, "When producing things in a flow, what speed is suitable? If speed is
different for each process, it will become a "muddy flow" in which things
stagnate here and there. It is called synchronization that each process produces with the
same pitch and the tact time demanded by a customer."
This week I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my book Kaikaku The Power and Magic
of Lean was awarded the Shingo Prize. It surely is an honor for me and something I
would never really had envisioned. I can remember my youth the scorn from my English
teacher in the 9th grade who not only felt that I was hopeless when it came to writing,
but who also told my friends not to play with me. "Stay away from Norman for he will
never be any good." Well, it just shows you that miracles can happen if you
just continue to work hard and never, never "give up on yourself."
Norman Bodek is the president of PCS Inc. and author of The Idea Generator - Quick and
Easy Kaizen, Kaikaku The Power and Magic of Lean and his latest book written with Chuck
Yorke All You Gotta Do Is Ask. http://www.pcspress.com