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Create Training Plan and Master Plan


Here is what we will be discussing in this Phase:

  • How to assess the Current State of your line. A logical starting point is to know where you are right now in line maturity. The “Read A Plant Fast” method is a great way to do that quickly.
  • Introduction to Value Stream Mapping. This is another common Lean tool to document the entire Value Stream, from launch to completion of the product.
  • Learn 15 line design guidelines used by industry leaders. You’ll review a list of 15 performance elements that need to be included in your Current State assessment.
  • Acceptance criteria for a completed line design. The philosophy here is “Start with the end in mind”, so you will review the desired outcomes of your line design project.

Complete Self-Assessment

Here is one option. Read A Plant Fast is an approach to factory assessment, first published in the Harvard Business Review in 2002. It provides a structured approach, including checklists and other tools, to assess your production line (and entire factory) in a short amount of time. Going through this process will give you a rich list of improvement opportunities, that you can incorporate into your Master Plan. Note that this assessment is from a Lean Manufacturing perspective.

Copies of this article are available for purchase from the Harvard Business Review’s website. There are also a host of other online resources that were inspired by this article. Google the term “Read A Plant Fast” to learn more.

A Value Stream Map or VSM is a flow-chart that uses specific symbols to document the flow of materials and work for a product or family of products. There are two important differences between VSM and more traditional flow-charting methods. First, the VSM shows all of the steps required to deliver a product to your customer, albeit at a high level. It starts with your outside suppliers, it includes planning and Production Control, and it concludes with delivery to your customer.

Secondly, it documents not only the work that needs to be performed, but also the waiting time or queue time between processes. Reducing or eliminating queue time is the most important tool in reducing Manufacturing Cycle Time or MCT, and the Value Stream Map shows you where this occurs in the production flow.

The VSM shows all of the manufacturing processes needed, and is an important input into a line design tool we’ll discuss shortly, the Process Flow Diagram. The VSM is a preliminary version of the Process Flow Diagram, created at a high level and usually for a family of products, and not only one individual product.

You should consider the creation of a Current State Value Stream Map as a requirement in your line design process. The source book for this topic is titled Learning To See by Rother and Shook.


Appoint MMLD Team Leadership

Management Leadership Training. One could make a case that this is one of the most important preparation items of all. Lean is not a “grass-roots” effort that will eventually trickle its way to the top. Without strong leadership and consensus from the top management team, your probability of creating a Lean Enterprise is, let’s face it, zero. A Lean initiative never fails when the CEO is strongly involved, and it never succeeds when the CEO is not.

Even if your leadership team verbally expresses strong support for this direction, it is still not clear if they know exactly what they’re talking about or signing up for. There are a host of misunderstandings that exist, and it is critical that everyone in the group be on the same page. The best way to achieve this is to conduct a private Lean workshop designed for the purpose of creating a consistent vision of the Lean Enterprise, and a consistent focus for the leadership team. The workshop should be held off-site to avoid distractions, and at least three days are needed. There should be a practical outcome to the workshop in the form of a high level Lean Master Plan, covering at least the next year.

W. Edwards Deming published his famous 14 Points in 1982, in order to provide guidance for American management faced with the challenge of overseas competition. His feeling was that American management had lost its way, and needed a new beginning in order to survive. Deming also stressed the importance of on-going education. The new philosophy that he refers to, is now call Lean and Six Sigma, as follows.

1. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision is to help people and machines to do a better job. Supervision of management needs an overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.

2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.

3. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service,
with the aim to become competitive, stay in business, and to provide jobs.

4. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

How can you be sure that your management team is engaged and on-board with the Lean initiative? It’s difficult to cut through lip-service, but one way is to insist that your leadership team be able to teach basic Lean concepts like 5S, Continuous Improvement and Value Stream Mapping. As you have all experienced, if you’re required to teach something to others, it is imperative to understand it yourself. If Lean concepts are properly and correctly understood, it is easy to be enthusiastic about them and become fully committed to their introduction and implementation. We are not suggesting that your top management become full- time trainers, but that they are able to teach, and are occasionally asked to do so.

Align Project with Corporate Goals

Establish key performance issues to be addressed: additional capacity, faster cycle times, greater flexibility, better inventory turns, higher productivity, and additional floor space. Ensure that the project goals align with the plant and corporation’s goals.

Train Mixed Model Work Flow Team

Conduct Mixed Model Line Design and Mixed Model Material Management workshops for the Line Design team. Choose the modality that works best for your circumstances. The best option is always live and on-site.

Implementation Leader Training. In addition to your management team, you need to train the people actually doing the work. Don’t take it personally, managers, but the people closest to the action (the gemba in Leanspeak) will be the ones leading your transformation projects, and the ones you’ll be relying on to generate most of the improvement ideas. These are the people that need to know the Lean details: designing pull system, material management, running employee involvement systems, implementing and sustaining standard work, creating the visual factory, and so on. This knowledge comes through doing, but formal classroom training is also important. A general three-day introduction to Lean is recommended, in addition to any specialized training that might be needed. The comments made above regarding the need for teaching ability also apply to your implementation leaders.

Define and Document Line Design Guidelines

Create a list of marching orders for the Line Design team. These must come from the Management team in cooperation with the MMLD Steering Committee. From Capacity to flexibility to use of overtime, the team needs to know how much leeway they have in the design.

Define and Document Line Acceptance Criteria

Create a list of conditions that communicates to the MMLD team if the line they designed and simulated should be implemented as is or if it must be refined. This is the other side of the Line Design Guidelines. Think of a checklist that allows the Line Design team to see if their design will be accepted by management. It is possible that there will be some iterations between the Line Design Guidelines and the Acceptance Criteria.

Walk the Target Area

Walk the target area as team, following the sequence of processes. Observe with “Lean eyes” problems, opportunities, waste, handoffs, and confusion. Take this opportunity to talk to the line staff members.