Food for Thought "If you have the right people, with good, basic values and good work ethic, you can have a tremendous journey."

Buy Now
Food for Thought 2 "The follow-up in my Food for Thought series, with more focus on my experiences with Six Sigma and Kaizen."

Buy Now: Paper Back
Buy Now: E-Book

September 15, 2014

How Are You Today? Good vs. Peachy

Filed under: Food for thought for friends — Alec @ 2:43 pm

Sometimes we hear something so often that we don’t listen to the words. We hear what we have associated with those words the 100 prior times. Especially if we have memorized it, standardized it, or made it a habit. One of the most common instances is when you say “Good morning” and the response is always “Good morning”. Another may be when you say, “How are you doing?” and the other person responds ordinarily with, “Fine” or “Good. How are you?” These are habit responses and may not be a good reflection of what you really feel.

In Mexico, they say “Buenos dias”, and the common response is “Dias” i.e. shortening the response to just “day”; it is habit response with no energy or emotion, and requires no listening. My favorite response to “How are you doing?” is “Peachy” because it is different enough from what they are expecting and it is something different. Plus, it is a personal reminder to myself that today is a warm, sweet day. The bottom line of all communication is whether there is a response and a reaction to what you said. In other words, action is the result of real listening.

Written words are almost as detrimental to clear communication. We seldom read every word in a book or newspaper article. Have you ever read a paragraph on Facebook where all the words are misspelled, or tried to count how many f’s there are in a paragraph? Not only do people not listen, they are often not very good at following written instructions, especially if long and complex.

Strengths come in various forms: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, meaning some people are much better at seeing, some at hearing, some at physically doing. When we are teaching “train the trainers” Karen and I emphasize the following:

1. Tell them

2. Show them

3. Have them show you

This is will ensure that you will connect with the learning pattern of each of your people.

Kaizen Seal Grooves

Filed under: Food for thought for friends — Alec @ 2:25 pm

Some Green Belt / Black Belt projects are so unique that they must be mentioned. I am going solely on memory for this one because this was not my project, but I may have been one of the champions.

In the early 1990’s we were having feel and noise issues with disc brakes. After a lot of research from the design engineering group it was traced to the seal groove diameter. Following the collection of a lot of data, we recognized that the process was not statistically capable. In fact, the data suggested that the process would be short-term capable for a few weeks, then totally incapable intermittently. A gauge Reliability and Repeatability (R & R) showed a reasonably accurate gauge. Several Design Of Experiments (DOE) for fixture, spindle, and speed showed huge errors. Continued data collection by spindle (4 spindle machine) showed 3 spindles would be capable leaving one not capable. But, then the next collection of data showed a different spindle not capable. Sometimes new inserts cured the problem, but not always. When a bad part shows up during inspection, the normal corrective action was to change the insert. Tool life and machine uptime quickly became an issue.

After six months of data collection and DOEs, just by luck the engineer in charge was watching the operation when the set-up person measured a part and it was out of print. The set-up person began to change the insert, cleaned the pocket and put in a new tool. When checking the first piece, it was also out of tolerance. When changing the tool for the second time, the engineer and set-up person noticed that the tool was loose. The next insert was installed and checked, it was tight. After this correction, the first part was good.

An interim process change was added to make sure the insert was tight, and the parts suddenly became capable. An investigation showed that several years prior, in order to save money on inserts, a new supplier was sourced. A few of the previous inserts (by the original supplier) were found in a set-up personnel’s toolbox. When measured the new inserts were a little smaller, and the tool holder clamp did not have enough travel to accommodate the variation.

Project solved very successfully, simply by observing the operation in detail.

What’s the Difference? Explaining Six Sigma & Kaizen

Filed under: Food for thought for friends — Alec @ 1:46 pm

Many people either misunderstand or misuse the terms Six Sigma and Kaizen. For the purposes of this book, and even for myself (I sometimes interchange the two words), let me try to clarify these terms so that they make more sense. Six Sigma literally is a statistical process capability, or could mean the use of statistical tools and the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC) model to solve a problem. The desire is to have a process capable of delivering quality or production at Six Sigma.

Kaizen or a Kaizen Event is when a team or group of people gets together to solve a problem. They may use Six Sigma, statistics, as well as using the DMAIC model or any other tool to solve the problem. I also use many other tools like Process Mapping, Value Stream Mapping, and Dream Process Mapping, etc.

In summary, Six Sigma capability is the goal, and a Kaizen Event is the tool to achieve Six Sigma.

Some Projects Require More Data Than Others

Filed under: Food for thought for friends,Professional Development — Alec @ 12:58 pm

Some projects just require a lot more data collection. One project that we completed in 2007 was that kind of commitment. We took a look at the manufacturing process for an orthopedic cutter. The process had been around for 10 years and had been subjected to numerous process improvement events. Strangely, all of the prior attempts at cost reduction and quality improvement had been focused on the 32 operations as singular processes rather than looking at the whole system of operations.

The original process included 32 operations to complete a high volume, high precision family of cutters. The total manufacturing cost was about $20. But, in order to keep the business from moving to Asia, a major cost reduction was necessary.

Our first step was to do a detailed Value Stream Map (VSM). However, with 32 operations we really needed to go look at each operation individually and collect lots of data. We analyzed more than the normal minutes per piece at each operation. We also explored:

• variable and fixed burden rates

• probable activity based burden rate

• set-up times for each machine

• quality

• rework

• the queue ahead of each operation

• man time

• steps between operations

When I speak about man time I am referring to the part of the total cycle time that requires a person to be present. For example, a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) mill only has a small amount of time to load, unload and gauge a part, but an Assembly Machine may take the total cycle time.

We observed how much waste handling there might be within an operation because it was not a cell. In other words, if we could eliminate the need to pick up in order to start the process and to pack in order to end each operation, we could save a little time. So, we looked at Takt time (the cycle time required to meet the customer demand). We compared the Takt time to the actual cycle times and identified all the operations that had a cycle time less than the Takt time. When the operation was significantly less than the Takt time, we examined the opportunity to do another operation within that machine (a second load – A & B position fixture).

Quality, rework and high set-up time operations were the most important target for 5S (the fundamental building blocks of an organization- sort, set, shine, standardize, and sustain) and Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED), even before we could tackle Cellular. The quality side required we do a Design of Experiments (DOE) to determine the real process capability. Most processes have 10 to 20 factors that when varied have an impact on the results. Usually there are only a few that have significant impact over a small range. Often we know and can easily control which factors have an impact. However, there are times that a few significant factors that are not known may even be an interaction. By collecting data and doing a few DOE we can identify the significant factors that must be tightly controlled. With our DOE, a few significant factors were identified and the process was suddenly statistically capable. Some fixture standardization and magnetic chucks with the 5S reduced set-up times.

We posted a 3-foot by 4-foot spreadsheet on the wall so we could compare what operations might be combined due to Takt time capacity or Open Man capacity. Then, one by one, we put together our dream process and modified our spread sheet to see what impact these combined operations had on capacity, man cycle time, variable costs, walk distance, and set-up time.

Some of the most obvious things were how many redundant operations occurred such as wash. There were 4 wash operations in the original process when in reality a single rinse in a small pail of water was satisfactory for all but the final wash.

The original process had:

• 4 washers

• 32 operations

• 25 racks for WIP (Work in Progress)

• walk time more than the standard hours per part (or over 1000 steps)

• 18 of the operations took less than 60 seconds


The final streamlined process identified included:

• 2 small manufacturing cells with Heat Treat in between

• 2 washers

• 14 operations

• 6 racks including in and out for Heat Treat (40 steps per part)

This resulted in a 60% reduction in variable cost. Conclusion: Sometimes it takes a lot of data and multiple perspectives from lots of people to see the opportunity.


Powered by WordPress