Lean Article

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

When was the last time you as a quality professional saw a major failure in implementing decisions? What about in project or process management? Such disasters can have devastating consequences for high-flying careers and successful companies. Yet they happen all too often, with little effort taken to prevent failure.

For example, many leaders stake their reputations on key projects such as successful product launches. However, research shows that most product launches fail. Nike’s FuelBand, launched with much fanfare in 2012, flopped on arrival. By 2014, Nike fired most of the team behind FuelBand, discontinuing this product.

David Hart’s picture

By: David Hart

Climate plans are the order of the day in the presidential primary campaign because carbon pollution is a global threat of unique proportions. But it’s worth asking whether candidates’ plans are based in the reality of the climate, the economy, and the election.

All three dimensions must come together for any climate plan to achieve its goals—and this is especially true when the subject is electric vehicles (EVs). There is no point in putting forward an EV plan that is so aggressive that it cannot be implemented even under the most auspicious economic circumstances. Nor is there a point in advancing an EV plan that would not yield significant climate benefits. And, if such a plan might hurt a candidate’s chances in the election, it would be worse than pointless.

Following the lead of Governor Jay Inslee, who dropped out of the race earlier this fall, Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren said they would require all passenger cars sold in the United States to be zero-emissions by 2030, while Senator Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg set a 2035 deadline.

Jim Benson’s picture

By: Jim Benson

Editor’s note: This is episode two in the Respect for People series. Click here for episode one.

When we build any working system, we need to understand and appreciate how people naturally exchange information. They withhold some things, say some other things. Some of this is fear, some is etiquette, some is politeness, some is avoidance. Can we build systems to actually provide people with the information they need and the right triggers for action?

We were working with a startup with about 160 people. They were listing out the areas of their tech platform they wanted to reengineer. We laid out all the work that could be done and evaluated it for impact, effort, cost, and expertise.

We came up with a lot of results.

We came up with a direction.

But something didn’t feel right. So I drew a box and told them team (about 30 people) to put the stickies with the part of the system that scared them the most, made them lay awake at night, or that they knew would explode and bring the whole thing down one day.

The box soon had three stickies.

There was a pause.

People took two stickies out.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

How will the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement affect greenhouse gas emissions? Quality Digest editor in chief Dirk Dusharme and Mike Richman, principal at Richman Business Media Consulting, point out that most manufacturers already recognize that waste, including waste of energy as represented by carbon emissions, costs the supply chain money.1 This leads to my conclusion that withdrawal from the agreement will not have any significant effect on U.S. carbon emissions.

Involving relevant interested parties

It is a basic principle of ISO 9001:2015 that organizations must identify the needs and expectations of their relevant interested parties, but not all interested parties are relevant. The Paris Agreement offers little identifiable value to organizations, so it is not a relevant stakeholder. Neither are investment banks that had hoped to profit from cap-and-trade mandates.2 The supply chain should contain nothing that does not deliver value to the other supply chain participants.

Ken Voytek’s picture

By: Ken Voytek

Productivity matters. It matters a lot. Yet it often seems that folks talk about productivity but don’t do anything about it. At least, it feels that way to me when I go outside of the MEP National Network, where we’re always focused on enhancing manufacturing productivity. And you could say that productivity is a personal crusade for me, as is evident in blogs I’ve written during the last few years.

Taran March @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Taran March @ Quality Digest

So it seems the contentious wall along our southern border, variously known as the Trump wall or the Mexico-United States barrier, isn’t meeting requirements. Walls keep people in; walls keep people out. They serve as backdrops for graffiti. But aside from fulfilling the last item, this wall might more accurately be called a solution for the wrong problem. Time, and past time, for quality assurance folks to step in.

Joseph Paris’s picture

By: Joseph Paris

A few years ago, I was asked to conduct a workshop, deliver a keynote, and chair a three-day conference on manufacturing process excellence in Europe, produced by the Process Excellence Network (PEX), a division of IQPC. Although that was a lot to ask of me, the lineup of speakers and content was pretty strong, and I was looking forward to gaining knowledge as much as I was to delivering what I had to offer.

During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet one of the speakers, who was the director of operational excellence in Europe for a publicly-traded company—which is not so unusual, as most of the speakers and attendees were in operational excellence (or continuous improvement) leadership roles. He was a bright and passionate individual for sure, and we promised to have a follow-on conversation in a month’s time.

When it came time for the follow-up call, the much learned and passionate individual told me that he had been released. Being rather shocked, I asked what had happened. He told me the company had killed the entire operational excellence program to “cut costs.” Hm... and so it goes.

Jody Muelaner’s picture

By: Jody Muelaner

How would you like to go hands-free, maintain visual focus, and save time? These are just some of the benefits of using voice command to control machinery. Increasingly sophisticated natural language processing, based on artificial intelligence, also means that it is becoming possible to issue complex commands by simply telling a machine what you want it to do. This removes the need to memorize specific command words or learn complex menu systems and sequences of instructions.

During the past few years, voice-assisted technology has become very popular in the consumer market. Products such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, the Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana have become household names—quite literally, as people use them to turn on the lights and control the heating. This technology is also appearing in the industrial market, where things can be considerably more challenging.

Brian Lagas’s picture

By: Brian Lagas

‘Why are our changeovers taking so long?”

If you’ve asked this question on the shop floor, more than likely you were met with blank stares by your employees. Open-ended questions like this are overwhelming, so employees try to find quick answers that don’t really address the problem. They don’t have a starting point to form an answer.

But what if you asked a question with a specific, achievable goal, such as:

“What steps can we take to reduce changeover time by 15 minutes?”

You’ve then provided your employees with a measurable goal in the form of a question. Your workers may feel empowered to answer with some hands-on suggestions for incremental changes, such as reducing setup steps or combining workstations. This in turn could not only reduce changeover time, but also significantly eliminate wait times and inventories.

This approach is often described as kaizen, or “continuous improvement,” which serves as the backbone for lean manufacturing. Kaizen uses the plan, do, check, act (PDCA) problem-solving cycle to encourage manufacturers to use small ideas to solve big problems, such as costly, time-intensive changeovers.

Jay Arthur—The KnowWare Man’s picture

By: Jay Arthur—The KnowWare Man

When I first learned quality improvement back in 1989 at Florida Power and Light, the consultants who trained us taught a very specific way to draw a Pareto chart. They’d been trained in Japan, the place where quality improvement first took root during the 1950s, so I took it for granted that the way they drew Pareto charts was the authentic and best way to do so.

A Pareto chart combines a bar graph with a cumulative line graph. Using the way we were taught to draw a Pareto chart (figure 1), the bars are touching, making it extremely easy to visually compare levels from one bar to the next. The bars span the entire available space along the x axis. The cumulative line graph springs from the bottom left corner of the first big bar, and each subsequent point is plotted from the corresponding top right corner of its bar.

Syndicate content