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Topic Title: Introducing Lean in High Mix and Low Volume
Topic Summary: Hostile Enviroment
Created On: 11/10/2017 01:23 PM
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11/17/2017 10:13 AM
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Juan Quintero Bejines

Good morning!

Sorry if my writing is long but I do really need your advise:
I am in a small pharmaceutical industry that is facing a trouble in the use of capacity. The company can not see that they are in a lot of wastes, but they have the concious that they need to improve.
So they decided to create a new role (Continuous improvement ) to help them open their eyes. They gave me the opportunity even when I recognize that I have so much to learn as a Lean beginner.
Well, as soon as I got here I realized that the enviroment was hostile to lean culture, and because of the competition it is getting worse every week.
Besides, most of the manufacturing processes are high mix - low volume. And the first thing that I was asked for, It was urgently remove the bottlenecks.
I did it well with various "continuous lines" that responded inmediatey at some basic SMED principles.
But now I am in the challenge of improving the discontinuous lines, and to start the lean culture. My directors have very old leadership styles and have no idea about Lean. I started struggling with Hoshin Kanri, VSM and 5s, but they consider those as a strange things because they want to see inmediate results
What is your recommentation?
12/01/2017 10:37 AM
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Scott Alexander

If everything was easy, the work would have already been done. Old leaders will probably 'understand' neat, organized work centers. (5s should help there) They'll understand graphs and numbers (reduced waste, on-time shipments). You probably already have production numbers, so make them visible at each area (team boards perhaps) to make problems visible to everyone. I like creating VSM to see the process and identify areas for improvement. Pick an area (with people that seem willing to improve (they'll be doing the work and living with the results)) that has problems and fix them. Be sure to record the 'before' picture (real pictures, numbers, etc.). That evidence will make it much easier to sway the old leaders to be benefits that Lean provides.
12/01/2017 10:37 AM
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Mark Rosenthal

Recommendation: "What problem is leadership trying to solve?"
If they want more capacity, then rather than embarking on "waste safaris" or trying to "implement lean tools," go map the current processes and look for bottlenecks to capacity - what constrains your output?

What would that process step HAVE to look like so it WASN'T the bottleneck?

What problems do you need to solve to make it look like that?

Pick off one of those problems (start with the ones that seem easy), and start trying (experimenting, not just brainstorming) ideas that could deal with that issue. Keep at it until that process is no longer your bottleneck.

Then go find the next bottleneck.

What is it about "discontinuous lines" that constrains you?
"Discontinuous lines" isn't a problem in and of itself. It may be the cause of a problem though.
What problem are you trying to solve that creating flow lines would fix?

Frame your efforts in the language of the problems that your "hostile" managers are speaking to you.
Those are your challenges. Stay focused on what you are there to do, and use your knowledge to do it.

VSM is just a tool to grasp the current condition, and (future state) to show how the process *needs* to operate to meet the challenge or problem that is frustrating management.
5S, likewise, is to solve specific problems - "Does this person have what they need / do they need what they have?"

Always start with the problem you are trying to solve.
12/06/2017 02:22 PM
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Juan Quintero Bejines

Thanks a lot Alexander, I consider your comments will help me to clarify the current situation at work centers.
I think it will help to involve people at all level
and it is a good way to start moving our culture to a lean status. Thank you and I will keep you in contact.
12/06/2017 02:22 PM
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Juan Quintero Bejines

Thanks Mark for your comments.
As you can see, I am a very beginner in lean matters and I do really appreciate your advices.
But yes, the problem is our capacity. We do not have enough. I am applying VSM at our lines in priority order.
Most of them with good and fast results in continuous lines.
But in lines that are phisically disconected we have huge WIP between operations. Right know I am studyng the kan ban principles in order to help.
But besides, I have realized that there are more problems.
Being more specific, I have found 1 major topic that has 3 subtopics. We have problems of liquidity, so:
1.1. Our machines are old and need to be refurbished. We do not have reliable equipment. I am trying to implement at least autonumous maintenence.
1.2 We pay lower than our competitors so, We have high turnover of personnel. I am trying to minimize the impact analyzing with Human Resources in order to set up a training program with economic rewards ( But not to sure about it is the best)
1.3 With the improved operations, I find difficulties in sustaining the new status, even with standard work. So I am convincing our supervisors to do Gemba walks
Please let me know if I am doing well or there is another faster way.
Thank you again for your invaluable help.
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