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Topic Title: Lean is not 7 wastes
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Created On: 08/01/2014 05:11 PM
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08/04/2014 06:46 AM
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263752
Jason Morin



How do I lucidly explain, through examples perhaps, that Lean is not simply about the 7 wastes? My understanding is we eliminate waste to improve flow. It is a means to an end. So many consultants in my industry talk about lean and how is simply about eliminating waste but they fail to talk about flow.
Thanks!
08/05/2014 06:42 AM
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22767
Sam Tomas



Jason I'm going to stick my neck out on this one by saying the following:

Originally, when Lean was introduced it was in reference to a process that had minimum waste, kind of like a lean piece of meat. Since that time people have expanded the definition of Lean so that, in my opinion, it now means whatever a company wants it to mean, but as it applies to only that company. In other words there are now many-many definitions of Lean out there.

One description of Lean from Wikipedia is the following:

"Lean manufacturing, Lean Enterprise, or lean production, often simply, "lean", is a production philosophy that considers the expenditure of resources in any aspect other than the direct creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Working from the perspective of the client who consumes a product or service, "value" is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for."

Sam Tomas


Edited: 08/05/2014 at 06:42 AM by Lean Moderator
08/05/2014 06:43 AM
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timd
Tim Dixson



Lean isn't necessarily about flow, specifically. First and foremost, it's about defining value from the perspective of your customer. Flow tends to be a RESULT of eliminating waste (e.g., non-value added activities from your customer's perspective). It's a tool and a best practice just like kanban or heijunka or hoshin kanri.
08/11/2014 06:17 AM
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MakinWindows
Arthur Cudmore



It is incredibly hard to explain why one piece flow works. I've never seen a really good explanation in LEAN literature of WHY it works. I don't claim to understand it myself.

When I explain flow during a LEAN event, I just say it is like magic and then do a one piece flow demonstration. You can do something as simple as the envelope stuffing demo.

With one piece flow, you work less hard, make more widgets and you spend no more money. And you haven't even eliminated any waste yet!!! Seems a lot like magic to me.

If someone does have an explanation of how one piece flow works, I'd love to hear it.
08/11/2014 06:17 AM
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5256
William Gilbert



Jason, you are absolutely correct that the focus of Lean should be on "flow" and not "waste". This seems to have been forgotten over the years. "In the beginning", Womack outlined a 5 step program for implementing Lean. The first step was to define value for the customer (Tim is correct) but the third step was to establish flow. Waste elimination was not part of the 5 steps.

But Lean itself is derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS). The two pillars of TPS are just-in-time (JIT) and Jidoka. Both of these terms deal with flow. JIT describes the goal of continuous flow and Jidoka deals with the interruption of that flow. All process improvement efforts are to be focused on these two concepts. And the target end result is the reduction of process lead-time (which always yields a lower cost structure).

This is where the concept of waste elimination comes into the picture. Waste elimination is a countermeasure to achieve shorter flow paths (JIT), reduced flow interruptions (Jidoka) and, ultimately, reduced lead-times. Waste should only be identified for elimination after its impact on flow is recognized. Waste can lengthen the flow path (e.g., transportation) and/or waste can interrupt the flow (e.g., defects). All of these types of waste consume time. If a waste is not affecting lead-time of the processes under study, then it is not germane.

Only eliminate waste that is interfering with the flow of value within the system of interest. A willy-nilly, shotgun waste elimination program may generate as much waste as it eliminates.
08/12/2014 07:02 AM
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304369
Keith Lodahl



One piece flow works because the customer and supplier are directly linked. There is no buffer of goods in between that requires management, no long delay to tell if produced goods are correct, and no complex inventory/manufacturing control system filled with errors and delays. Customer buys, manufacturing makes.
08/14/2014 02:57 PM
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timd
Tim Dixson



One piece flow is 2 things: it's a tool and it's a result. It's a tool in that, within your organization you ask "why can't we 1-piece flow? what are the barriers?", the answers you get are almost always NVA-centric, which leads you down a problem-solving path.

Real-world example that happened to me earlier this quarter:
Lean Guy: "What are our barriers to 1-piece flow? Why can't we do it?"
Manager: "Because our quality manual says a lot needs to stay together."
Lean Guy: "Why does a lot need to stay together?"
Manager: "For traceability."
Lean Guy: "What do you need traceability for?"
Manager: "Because of all of our parts that move into shared resources at different rates."
Lean Guy: "Why are there shared resources?"
Manager: "Because we have different processes segregated throughout the factory."
Lean Guy: "Why are you segregating by process?"
Manager: "...because that's the way we've always done it."

DING DING DING!!! A thought experiment for one-piece flow has revealed that one of the reasons we aren't able to implement is because of an internally learned BEHAVIOR (and not because of any actual requirement from the customer or regulatory body). By simply creating modular work areas where good raw material goes in and good parts come out, ready to go to external processing (where there is a requirement that we keep lots together), we can eliminate the Inventory and Waiting wastes associated with lots moving through the factory in large batches in favor of flowing up to what we refer to as a "gated process". We estimate eliminating 8 flow days (and associated inventory, carrying costs, and a litney of other charges) by simply breaking up shared resources into in-cell services.
08/18/2014 06:41 AM
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RyanKapsar
Ryan Kapsar



From my experience Lean has several goals, which haven't been fully mentioned together:

Customer Centricity - defining value by what the customer is willing to pay for. This enables a definition of waste.

Just In Time Getting the right part at the right time in the quantity to the right place seemingly at the moment of use

Zero Defects the ideal process has no defects, yes defects are a waste, but it's a goal of Lean to eliminate defects

Process Smoothing identify differences in processing times that could lead to building up of material

Understand and Create flow Change the way work is done to enable single piece flow. The goal is to remove non value add steps outside the customer experience and enable employees to spend the majority of their time on items we are paying them to do

Continuous Improvement One Kaizen is never enough. 7 might give you a good process, but by then you'll be doing something else

If you say that these are the goals of Lean typical metrics typically fall out of these goals - Quality (JIT, 0 Defects, Continuous Improvement), Lead Time (JIT, Create flow, Process Smoothing), and Cost (customer centricity, continuous improvement naturally occur.

Furthermore, it becomes clear that the 7 wastes simply become part of your tool kit to enable those goals. Waste becomes a tool in the same way that the 5 Whys are a tool
08/19/2014 06:30 AM
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304369
Keith Lodahl



If I recall correedtly the last person I read who explained Ohno's thinking said that he used the wastes to keep the advantage with Japan and send Americans on the wrong path. I have no clue if that is true, or if we just went to our comfort zone with waste and tools and missed several crutial points. The more Lean implementation/transformation I have been involved with points out to me flow is the critical factor, and all the tools and rules are there to make flow happen. This is regardless of industry. It is just as important in healthcare as it is in widget creation.
08/19/2014 06:31 AM
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JohnPod
John Podlasek



Money is time, time is money.
Lean is about flow/speed of delivery.

Wastes are eliminated to improve speed/flow. The fastest car has the best quality or it will not win the race.
I had this disagreement many years ago with one of my old bosses.
He thought quality was most important and I said speed, due to without good quality you can not have speed, but you can be slow and have good quality. He was focused on making "Six Sigma" the company policy and did not want to hear anything else, so I was let go.

JohnPod
08/26/2014 06:07 AM
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oberkele
Owen Berkeley-Hill



Jason,
You have inadvertently asked this community to define Lean; not a good move! In my experience, both here and in the various groups in LinkedIn there is very little consensus. Perhaps because our knowledge is growing and perhaps because we have not discovered its boundaries so far.

There are, in my opinion, roughly three levels of understanding:

So is Lean a toolbox from which you can pick and choose the appropriate tool as and when you need it, ignoring the rest? The early adopters in the West tried this because some aspects were seen as incomprehensible or way too difficult unless you were lucky to be Japanese and benefited from centuries of Bushido. So, for example, kanban looked like a way of disciplining the supply chain and we had Just-in-Time (JIT), but Hoshin went against the grain, took up too much time and effort, and, in any case, strategies were a well-guarded secret.

Is it a systemic way of solving problems so that value flows effortlessly to your drooling customers? This thinking is in the right direction but Lean is still seen as one approach (competing with Six Sigma, BPR, IT, TOC, TQM, ZQC, and any other TLA you may have experienced). There is also this artificially introduced boundary: Lean is for eliminating Waste; Six Sigma for reducing variation. The risk of this limited thinking is that the leadership see themselves as immune to any changes required by Lean and will leave it to external or internal experts hoping that some sort of miracle will have happened (yesterday) before they return from the golf course.

Is it a way of thinking which aims to build a common understanding between the very top and bottom of the hierarchy when it comes to making sure the organisation adapts to changing circumstances and remains healthy by providing society with something of value? As you may have guessed, I tend to favour this view.
08/26/2014 06:08 AM
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5256
William Gilbert



Keith, the Ohno interview you mentioned, that highlighted Ohno's misdirection of the Americans, is from the book Profitability with No Boundaries by Pirasteh and Fox. Here are a couple of quotes from the book:

Ohno: "I explained it by talking about techniques, like quicker machine setups, reduction of 7 wastes (muda), and other techniques with Japanese names like kanban and kaizen. I did my best to prevent the visitors from fully grasping our overall approach."

Ohno: "When the experts from your country visited, they noticed that our machines were very dependable, our quality was high, and that we had few people absent. I understand that many went back to your country and suggested that you implement preventative maintenance programs, quality circles, and other programs in order to copy our results. I do not think that they understood why we did these things, which might explain why these changes often weren't very helpful. I tried to prevent them from understanding why we wanted a river system and I think I was successful."

Ohno then goes on to explain his "river system" and how everything was based on flow. It is quite an interesting read. But you are correct, the tools were developed to create flow and many have lost sight of that fact.

(But it is worth noting that the book containing this interview is about the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and they were using Ohno's interview to sell that concept. There is some conjecture about the validity of this interview since the authors are very vague about the actual time and place of the event. They say it (and other events) took place in the early 1990's - Ohno died in May, 1990).

Bill
08/26/2014 06:09 AM
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5256
William Gilbert



JohnPod, thank you for bringing back the importance of time. When I was learning this stuff in the late 1980's, time was the key metric that was used to determine the success of our TPS efforts. Flow was the objective - and how does one best measure flow - time.

As I said in my earlier post, the two pillars of TPS are JIT and jidoka. JIT is focused on smoothing out and shortening the flow path and jidoka is focused on eliminating interruptions to flow. Both activities reduce overall lead time. Time is money, as you pointed out. Why has the Lean community seemed to have lost track of the importance of this metric?

If I remember correctly, you are a Lean economist (if I am mistaken, I apologize). And I believe you are familiar with the Austrian School of Economics. In their excellent work on the "Structure of Production" they identify three primary factors of production - land, labor and TIME. All capital goods (a fourth factor) have their origin derived from some combination of these three factors. I believe they are the only group of economists that include time in this manner.

Based on this economic structure, you have to ask why cost accountants have labor variances, material variances (from land) but no time variances.

In fact there is a basic approach used by the Austrians that demonstrates the importance of time in the production cost structure. This is best illustrated by the Hayekian Triangle. This basic tool demonstrates that the longer the production timeline, the higher the total cumulative cost of production. It follows then, by improving the flow while maintaining the value-add processes, you reduce the timeline and you reduce the total cost.

I wonder if Ohno understood this when he said: "Costs do not exist to be calculated; costs exist to be reduced."

Bill
10/13/2014 10:06 PM
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Kyle_Meyers
Kyle Meyers



If it helps explain to others, there are three areas to look for opportunities: Waste (Muda), Unevenness (Mura), and Overburden (Muri). Management likes Waste because it is tangible and typically can be translated into $$$$. They don not like to talk about overburden because it typically translates into spending more money on equipment "Why are you going to buy another machine when that is not running 24/7?" or "Just work 60 hours a week, everyone likes the overtime checks." They do not like to talk about Unevenness because they feel it is out of there control. They would rather flex shifts (some departments work 3 while others work 1) because it makes more financial sense. However, they will pay for the inventory buffers to accommodate that type of system and all the waste that comes with it. Lean should focus on all three areas of improvement. Good luck.
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