TQM, six sigma & lean manufacturing

Jul 22, 2012

Lean Manufacturing Concept VS Traditional Quality Concept

Have you ever thought "quality products are expensive"? You might be prepared to pay some extra money for a high quality product. I believe you have taken the correct move. It is always better to buy a better quality product or service than a low quality one. But I have a small problem regarding your concept about higher price you are paying. Why you should pay extra money to get good quality product. Strange question isn't it? But I believe it is very much a valid question. I do not believe that you have to pay extra money for the quality. I will explain why. There are two types of manufacturers around. One is quality manufacturers. They produce quality products and services. Lean manufacturers are naturally quality manufacturers. The other type is average manufacturers. They produce average quality products. They pick best from these products. These selected products are high in quality of cause. Then they sell these products as high quality products. Remember these are not quality manufacturers. They are quality pickers. When your manufacturer is a quality manufacturer, you will be paying only for the products you are buying. It is obvious isn't it? You will pay only for the products that you buy. But when you buy a product manufactured by a quality picker, you are paying for the other low quality products as well. Have you thought before? You are actually paying for the product you are buying, and you are also paying for the products which are removed in selecting best quality products from the bunch of average quality products. The cost of low quality products are added to the high quality product. That is why most of the manufacturers will say "High quality products are costly". If this is a lean manufacturer he will say "Cost is free" instead.
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Jul 14, 2012

Lean Six Sigma and Productivity

Lean Six Sigma is all about improving quality and minimizing errors. It can help to speed up manufacturing and most any other business process. This is mostly because it creates an infrastructure of people in an organization that are experts at their given level of Six Sigma knowledge. They have a specific job, know how to carry it out and will help reduce cost and increase profit. This is their main mission. Since 1986, this method has been working. There are six steps to the process that have to be carried out exactly for it to work properly. These steps concentrate on getting more out of less work and eliminating the defects that exist in product development. It basically accelerates the decision making process within the company. In today's economy, that is priceless. Most companies these days could use more production with less pay. With big companies like Toyota adopting this philosophy, its success is easy to recognize. By identifying waste, transportation issues, inventory issues and equipment failures, companies can significantly cut costs and speed up production. Many times it can cut costs by 50%. In this economy, that is amazing. It can actually help to eliminate layoffs. Employees find that adopting this methodology a much better solution to declining sales, especially when they get to keep their jobs. Since Lean Six Sigma focuses on management, it works. The employees will not only accept the changes but will be less frustrated in the end. They will be able to do their job and do it much easier. In fact, using the Six Sigma process will end up creating stronger communication between management and the employees. When tensions are very high, this can really be a blessing. No company really likes to have problems with communication between management and employees. The strategies are simple. They include defining, measuring, analyzing, improving and controlling for process improvement. This is otherwise known as the DMAIC method. When these elements are attended to, they can be powerful tools for identifying and eliminating waste in process and productivity. This method minimizes inputs and wasteful outputs, and will result in overwhelming inventory at lower cost. When productivity is low and stagnate, a new way of management needs to be developed. That is just the way manufacturing works. Changing things up can accomplish a lot and sometimes be so vital that the future of the company may be in jeopardy without it. Having the proper training and implementing a new process can take time and money, but in the end it is very much worth it.
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Jul 9, 2012

Steps to Improving Cycle Time

Step 1-Define the Needs of the Customer Any customer or client-based business should understand that the overall success or failure of their endeavor relies almost entirely on how well they can satisfy the needs of the customer or client. One of the many goals of the Six Sigma Methodology is a happy client. Whether a business is product or service based, all customers have expectations about how they should be serviced or how their products should be manufactured. Defining the needs of the customer is important when trying to improve cycle time as nothing should be compromised that is necessary to meet customer requirements. For example, it would be unwise to skip a specific manufacturing procedure to save time when the procedure itself is what brings an item on an assembly line within the target specs designated by the customer. Step 2- Identify Problem Areas Once you have a clear understanding of which areas of a process are absolutely essential for meeting customer demand, you probably also have a general idea of which parts of a process might not be as important. Granted, every stop on an assembly line serves some sort of constructive purpose, but it is often the case that two or three steps in a procedure can be abbreviated or combined to save time and cut back on costs. Step 3-Eliminate Undesirable Aspects of Production Once the problem areas have been identified, considerations can begin being made about removing these problems from production. As previously stated, it isn't uncommon for tasks to simply be combined or altered in some minor way. However, it is of great importance that attention is paid to how removing or changing any aspect of production will result in a change in the overall efficiency and output variation of the process in question. An improvement in cycle time is important to achieve, but not at the expense of the entire company! Step 4-Test for Efficiency After actual Six Sigma changes have been put in place, steadily monitoring the process is crucial. Even with modern day dashboards and data processing, it is possible that a change in production methods - even if intended to be beneficial - could result in a higher percentage of defective finished products. As soon as it can be determined that the process is indeed stable, monitoring can become more casual.
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Jul 8, 2012

Quality Control Circle (QCC)

A quality control circle is a small group of workers who come together to discuss ways of identifying, analyzing, solving, and selecting work related issues. More than 95% of work related problems can be resolved using various QC tools. Some of the tools used are the cause and effect diagram, check sheets, scatter diagram, control charts, pareto diagrams, stratification, histograms, and graphs. For a quality control circle to be implemented the management has to be informed about the intentions of the group of workers that plan on meeting and approval must be granted by the management. A committee is set up, and persons to fill principal positions are selected. Principal members of a circle include the Facilitator, the Team leader, the Secretary, and members. After the selection process, the scope of focus point is defined and effort is channeled towards resolving issues in that sector. Circle coordinators are trained extensively in order that they may efficiently execute their various roles. Employees are then invited to become members of the quality control circle and are trained accordingly by coordinators. The aim of the QCC is to discuss problems in the company and come up with possible solutions to those problems. Hence problems are discussed and solved systematically. It is important that practical solutions be reviewed by the company's administration and implemented without delay. As the circle grows, different circles emerge, and the higher a member rises, more sensitive issues are dealt with. These programs must be functional in all sectors of a company. For the circle to run efficiently, the employees have to be given the power to make decisions, and the solutions they come up with have to be implemented. The management has to approve and support the program by making time available for meetings, and if necessary, training of members. Also participation must be voluntary and team work must be present for the problems to be effectively resolved. QC circles have the same structure of quality improvement systems like Kaizen, Six Sigma, and ISO 9000. Hence, it is important that these circles be part of the company's total quality management (TQM) initiative. With active quality control circles in place, there is a reduction of quality lapses due to heightened quality awareness in the company. There will be an increase in output with the elimination of certain delays due to bottlenecks which translates to a higher profit for the company.
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Jul 1, 2012

Creative Problem Solving Techniques

Do you ever need to find some good ideas, or come up with a solution for a persistent problem? Learn some simple problem solving techniques, and start applying them. Choose a few of the methods below, and get in the habit of using them in your personal life and your business. Problem Solving Techniques 1. Clarify what a successful solution is, and that will guide your efforts. In fact, sometimes just clarifying the desired outcome will suggest immediate solutions. 2. Get opinions and/or advice from several people. They might have good ideas, and you'll be sure you're not overlooking the obvious. Also, you clarify a problem when you explain it, and that may help in itself. 3. Challenge assumptions. Are you trying to solve the wrong problem? Do you really need a vacation, or is your job the problem? Don't let your assumptions limit your possible solutions. 4. Break it into parts, and solve the parts individually. Many problems are really a collection of smaller, easier-to-solve problems. 5. Change perspectives. What would the problem look like if you were rich, poor, or from another planet. Einstein imagined riding on a beam of light, which lead to his theory of relativity, so this technique has been known to work. 6. Solve the problems while you sleep. Leave a tape recorder or pen and paper next to the bed for those middle-of-the-night ideas. 7. Write it down, and then find another way to express the problem. Write down all solutions and ideas that come to mind. Later you can pick the diamonds out of the dirt. 8. Try "random presentation." This is a fun one. Randomly pick an object and ask what it might teach you about your problem. A speed limit sign might suggest that you're growing your company too fast, for example. Don't be too dismissive of all the silly ideas this technique creates, as they'll sometimes trigger more useful ideas. This is also great for putting driving time to good use. 9. Look at what others have done. Problems aren't usually unique in every aspect. What have others done in similar situations? 10. Look at ways to cause the problem. Too much stress? Find ways to cause more stress. Over-promise, sleep poorly, be constantly interrupted, leave many decisions unmade, and so on. Each way to cause stress can suggest solutions: Fewer promises, sleep more, don't allow interruptions, make decisions now, etc. The Key To Solving Problems Some of these problem solving techniques will work for you. The key is to get in the habit of using them. Do they require a little work? Sure, but isn't work better than worry?
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Jun 23, 2012

The Benefits of SMED

In manufacturing, one of the manager's never ending duties is to find ways to continually optimize and streamline the facility's operations. Even little incremental changes can have a huge effect in improving worker efficiency and output flow. Every level of the assembly line must be analyzed for weaknesses and problems so that the issues can be properly addressed. Anything that can cause a slowdown or pause during any phase of production is an enemy of any factory setting. One common source of work stoppage is the routine shift and employees changes. Aside from creating a backlog that can be very difficult to recover from, such occurrences also cost the company precious time and money. Lost profits can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars through accumulated interruptions. One excellent way administrators can deal with this matter is with the introduction of Quick Changeover Simulations into their Human Resources Department's employee curriculum. Also called SMED games, these simulations are classroom activities that can be practiced during regularly scheduled HR appointments, or dedicated company-wide team building excursions. A SMED offers many advantages to any firm running an assembly line in the manufacturing industry. Foremost among its many gifts is its ability to instill in employees the proper techniques that can reduce shift change downtime to its very minimum. Through constant practice and repetition, workers get to understand firsthand the actual reason why certain protocols are in place instead of just blindly following their boss's instructions. This is useful when you want to institute stricter measures, but don't want it to negatively affect workforce morale. Running a SMED will also provide employees a safe venue to fail and mess-up operational processes without having it threaten the wellbeing of neither the company nor the workers themselves. In this way, people can learn how to avoid repeating their mistakes without hurting anyone. Finally, a SMED is also an effective team building tool. It allows the workers to build relationships and a sense of camaraderie with each other. This leads to increased employee morale which statistics show has a direct effect on a person's work rate, efficiency and production output. Never forget that happy companies are also profitable companies.
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Jun 16, 2012

Light Tables vs Inspection

Anyone who performs quality control in a laboratory or industrial environment knows the importance of adequate lighting. Without the proper level of illumination, it is nearly impossible to perform quality control to expected standards. This could result in serious legal penalties, fines, and even a shutdown of the facility. Equipping heavy, medium, and light duty tables with illuminated table tops ensures that this will not happen. A standard industrial table outfitted with lighting is offered with optional casters that make the workbench a mobile unit. Hydraulic lift units adjust the height of the table to accommodate seated or standing users while a hydraulic tilt unit moves the work surface to an ergonomically convertible angle. A deluxe version of this table features additional light panels that provide adequate illumination for inspection of the smallest items. When the ultimate in mobility is needed, light duty tables are often not the solution. An inspection cart featuring a light panel, casters, and hydraulic lift makes the perfect workbench. It can be pulled around the facility floor as needed or used in training applications. Other optional features expand the number of potential applications for this work cart. This unit is the perfect partner for a heavy duty industrial table. Fluorescent lighting used in lighted tables is covered by frosted glass. Consumers can specify the size of the glass area, with 12-inch multiples available for the width. A dimmable switch is included with the lighting and each fluorescent bulb is a maximum of 40 watts. Though standard sizes of light duty tables with lifting functions are available, custom dimensions can also be specified. When customizing this industrial table, a consumer can choose other features designed to meet the special needs of the user or work environment. Light duty tables are not the only versions available with illuminated table top lighting. Most of the workbench styles offered can usually be ordered with illuminated surfaces. Whether a lab or cleanroom table is needed, consumers will not need to go without the light feature. Ordering directly from the manufacturer, allows for more flexibility in terms of final product design. Many manufacturers can build light table furniture to meet your exact specifications. In labs where space is at a premium or where room dimensions are irregular, it is often difficult to find light duty tables and storage options that are compatible. A manufacturer has no problem designing furniture, shelving, and cabinets that will fit into tight corners or small square footage. Most of these items are delivered pre-assembled, eliminating time and frustration for the consumer. Everything arrives ready to use once it is removed from its packaging. Ordering heavy, medium, or light duty tables with tabletop lighting, casters, hydraulic lifts, and other features is not difficult. When shopping online, consumers simply enter the height, depth, and width of the table, the width of the lighted area, and finish or colors for the frame and top. They can even view samples of optional features and access live help if they have any questions.
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