The House of High Quality Articles for Everyone in the World

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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May 25, 2012

Lean and Manufacturing Basics

In order to improve competitiveness and profitability, a Company must have basic technique and important strategy which is in lean manufacturing and processing. A Manufacturing Company need to reduce unnecessary work practices and reduce wastes, this is the fundamental function of lean manufacturing. Due to turbulent concerns and political affecting all countries, companies are facing challenges to be able to keep their efficiency and profitability. Lean manufacturing and processing not totally eliminate the seven “forms of waste” within the systems and the work environment, that the principle of lean manufacturing. The seven “forms of waste” are motion, waiting, transportation, over processing, defects, inventory and scrap. Even in good performing company lean manufacturing and processing aims to drastically improve the competitiveness of struggling or a troubled, restore and to boost it, not only to reduce operational costs that is lean and manufacturing and processing principles. Lean and manufacturing processing learning is basically become mandatory for global and major companies. To be able to survive the hard and rough company challenges ahead in the era of complete globalization, companies must to act right away. Lean manufacturing and processing Enjoying huge benefits of reducing operational costs and moving along is what companies get with lean manufacturing and processing. That could further help company to grow organically and expand by using the save amounts from generated savings. However lean manufacturing and processing is now very easy to adopt and implement. To be able to ensure efforts is succeeded the company should religiously and really pay particular attention to details. There is no doubt that by adopting lean and manufacturing and processing principles, many companies are surely and apparently on the rise. Companies that aren’t doing lean manufacturing and processing’s the techniques and the strategies properly most of the time they are not aimed results and achieving target. Companies’ efforts and capital infusion initiative futile and wasted is surely made if ineffective and insufficient of lean and processing principles. Its principle would not stand on its own that it should be noted also. Companies should strive to attain their goals harder to embrace and adopting lean manufacturing. Learn about lean manufacturing and processing Learn more about lean manufacturing and processing is what companies to really get involved advised by experts. It really makes sense because it can surely help companies get on with current challenges and concerns affecting all institution around the globe. To learn more about lean processing techniques and principles, companies have many ways on how to do it. Experts and professionals who can really help the companies maximize and attain the benefits of such strategies can be hired by the companies. Companies will entail additional investments and additional costs by hiring lean manufacturing and processing experts. Companies shouldn’t really mind it because the implementation of lean manufacturing and processing benefits will surely offset the minimal costs of learning it. In another way to intently and specifically learn manufacturing and processing techniques and principles, key personnel can be designated by the company. Many companies around the world are currently practicing it. Companies had the personnel to learn manufacturing and processing principles by attend seminars and literature about it. Everything that personnel key learned he will relay the message and everything to the whole staffs. The entire organization must be distributed and communicated the knowledge and the skills, which is the important thing to do. The benefits achieved by the companies are much more significant compared to cost of learning manufacturing and processing, all companies should learn it.
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Andon Boards in lean manufacturing

Andon can be defined as "visual control" device that shows machine, process status or line. Most lean manufacturing systems need this device as it is very useful to reduce production waste in all levels. By using andon boards, a company can monitor and ensure productivity easily. Manufacturing warehouse use this tool to see order status or priorities in an instant way even from more than 100 feet away. This device can also function as early warning devices since audible alarms or warning messages are installed in the device. In short, it can be said that this communication tool leads to a better coordination of orders, priorities and parts in a lean manufacturing system. This good coordination finally leads to a better customer service. The use of andon boards replaces the role of traditional communication tool in lean manufacturing systems. With this device, now a company doesn't need to use clip boards, white boards or emails to communicate. Mostly, the boards are able to project a number of 4" characters. If you wish the device to display smaller characters, it is also possible. Andon boards can display 2.1" high characters for a company with smaller areas or less viewing distance. You can also install Windows applications inside the displays. Thus the applications will operate on the boards just like when they run on a PC. HMI applications like Wonderware, Iconics, GE Cimplicity and Visual Plant can also be operated on this device. With the benefits of andon boards, the device has enhanced lean manufacturing tremendously. Therefore, this communication tool has to be developed further to reduce more waste. The older ones usually display only data with fixed and restricted to single word headings. In addition, the data is lost when the display changes. To improve the performance, Gemba Solutions have developed the new andon board called OEE Impact Andon Board. This device offers flexibility and displays that users can configure with a PC. The new OEE Impact Andon Board will give another dimension for lean manufacturing. Its software will inform you how you fare against target by calculating TAKT times. This device can also view progress within work shifts or within a specific period of time. In addition, this latest communication device will inform historical summary that reports targets, down-times, reject. The new products are very helpful since they help a company knows how well their production is going. The EOO Impact Andon Boards can also use powerful software to track problem areas in case the results are less than what you expect.
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lean manufacturing

A lean manufacturing implementation has as one of its major goals reducing and eliminating waste. The waste that Lean solutions seek to eliminate takes several forms. And for each form of waste there is a specific tool that lean manufacturing consultants use for identification and analysis and, ultimately, elimination. Let's look at just a couple. Because the goal of Lean implementation is, among other things, to eliminate waste, the first object is to identify the areas or forms of waste in a particular company. Generally, though, here's what lean manufacturing examines first with respect to waste: unnecessary human motion, non-value-added conveyance of product, over-production, excess inventory, under-utilized space, over-processing, unneeded waiting, and poor utilization of talent. Two of the most easily addressed and corrected involve human motion and conveyance of product. Unnecessary Human Motion Whenever employees are engaged in non-value-added motion, within the context of production, waste occurs. Very often, both managers and employees are unaware when this kind of wasteful activity occurs. And that's why a spaghetti diagram can be so useful. This is a tool/technique used to identify and so eliminate the waste of unnecessary human motion. It involves, in the initial stage, a consultant's following an employee for between 30 minutes to two hours. In order for this to work properly, consultants have to explain to the employees, in order to obtain accurate data, exactly what is being done and why, making sure to emphasize that processes and layouts-not individual employees-are being evaluated. What happens is that that the work path taken by the employee(s) during this period is mapped out to determine efficiency and contribution to value-added activity. Here, then, are the well defined steps in producing a spaghetti diagram to eliminate unnecessary human motion: 1.The date, the time(s), and the specific process being mapped must be noted. 2.The group should be informed about what is going on and a volunteer called for. 3.The actual work paths of this volunteer taken throughout his shift are traced out on the map. 4.Any stops are noted and sequentially numbered, as well as the time duration for each stop. 5.Anything involving over-reaching or "non-comfort" motion is noted. 6.Any inherent disruptions in the work path and flow should be especially noted. 7.The reason for trips must be recorded. By means of this spaghetti diagram consultants can determine where motion is wasted and formulate a plan to eliminate that waste. Non-value-added Conveyance of Product The analytic tool used in a lean manufacturing implementation to find and eliminate the waste that results from the non-value-added conveyance of product is most often a "process walk." In this, the movement of a product is followed across all processes-from initial quality inspection through compounding through filling through all successive segments of the process to the final product ready for shipment. And here's what the process walk entails: 1.Literally walking at a brisk pace to follow the product through its production processes. 2.Asking questions of the people involved to find out origin of the part/ingredient, its next destination, and the means of conveyance. 3.Having employees assist in the observation of processes. 4.Recording delays for preparation and meeting requirements in moving the product from one location to the next. 5.Making a point to mark on the record material-handling delays. With this tool consultants can locate waste and bottlenecks and propose Lean solutions to promote process efficiency. The right lean manufacturing consultants with the right analytic tools can make your lean manufacturing implementation a profitable success
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A 20 Step Roadmap for lean manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing is being utilized by businesses of all sizes today. Although it took a few years to become mainstream, the success stories from mid-size to large corporations have pushed lean manufacturing down to very small organizations. Most of the large corporations employ a few lean experts. Many mid-size and most small businesses do not have lean manufacturing expertise in the company. It is common that a few individuals have attended a lean manufacturing seminar or read a few books, but lack the expertise to develop a roadmap. The reason most courses and seminars do not teach a "roadmap" is because the tools are best applied to problems or bottlenecks, rather than forcing the tool use on the opportunity. For example, a machine that sets up once per week in 30 minutes probably doesn't warrant a week of SMED activity. However, a roadmap can be used with common sense. Lean manufacturing has been called "common sense manufacturing", although not always "common practice". Lean Manufacturing Roadmap: Form team (mix of lean manufacturing and relevant business experience) Develop communication and feedback channel for everyone Meet with everyone and explain the initiative Begin to train all employees (lean overview, 8 wastes, standard operations, kaizen, RCPS, PDCA) Facility Analysis - Determine the gap between current state and a state of "lean" 5S - It is the foundation of lean. Workplace organization is critical for any lean initiative TPM - begin total productive maintenance early (used throughout lean) Value Stream Mapping - Determine the waste across the entire system 7 (or 8) Waste Identification - Use with value stream mapping to identify system waste Process Mapping - a more detailed map of each process Takt time - determine need to produce on all processes, equipment OEE & 6 Losses - determine the losses on all processes and equipment Line Balance - Use if necessary with takt time and OEE SMED - push setup times down to reduce cycle time, batch quantity, and lower costs Pull/One Piece Flow/Continuous Flow Analysis - utilize kanban and supermarkets Analyze Quality at the Source Application - poor quality stopped at the source Implement Error Proofing Ideas Cellular Manufacturing/Layout & Flow Improvement - Analyze facility and each process Develop Standardized Operations - concurrently with SMED, line balance, flow, layouts Kaizen - continue improving operations, giving priority to bottlenecks within the system The specific implementation plan should be developed from the facility analysis. The analysis identifies areas of opportunity in every area of the business, including sales, service, engineering, maintenance, production, quality, shipping, and administrative functions. Some lean manufacturing projects within a lean initiative require the tools of six sigma to find the improvement answers. The lean manufacturing team needs to be trained to understand when the lean tools must be supplemented to either solve the problem or maximize the improvement. Kaizen events may use all of the lean tools (and some six sigma tools) to meet the team's objective. Kaizen events are conducted on an ongoing basis to achieve a state of "lean". For example, a process may need a quick throughput improvement. The kaizen blitz could include focused SMED (single minute exchange of die) and OEE analysis. The kaizen might have an objective to reduce setup time from 80 minutes to 60 minutes in 4 days. It is important to keep an enterprise view with the analysis and roadmap. No single operation should be improved at the expense of the entire system. For example, if a bottleneck is happening at Process B, improving Process A prior to B only hurts the system worse. A larger scale example is improving throughput if shipping cannot handle the volume. Although many improvements cause bottlenecks elsewhere, forcing a larger known problem is rarely a good idea. The roadmap above is only one example. It could be shown with many different variations. However, there is a logical sequence to many of the tools. Value stream mapping is almost always conducted very early on in the process. The 5S system provides a foundation for most other tools. TPM is large and plays an important role in OEE improvement, and therefore must be started early. The key is to have a plan and get started. The path to lean will not be straight and it never ends. Don't let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of being "better" today.
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Six Sigma Mistake Proofing

Mistake Proofing (or Poka-Yoke as it is known in Japan) is one of several control concepts where the solution is not dynamic by nature, as is the case with a closed loop feedback control system. It should be noted that poka-yoke is very consistent with the fundamental aims and philosophy of Six Sigma and has wide applicability in manufacturing, engineering, and transactional processes. It involves actions designed to eliminate errors, mistakes or defects in our everyday activities and processes. The methodology involves complete understanding of the cause and effect relationship and identification of the simplest remedy that can be applied to eliminate the occurrence of that particular error in the future. Sometimes this involves an addition of a simple feature, the creation of a check list, a change in the sequence of operation, a highlighted field on a form, a software message that reminds the operator, or some other way of helping to ensure that mistakes are going to be totally eliminated or substantially reduced. Often, Mistake-Proofing focuses on errors produced by humans, whether it is the machine operator, the person filling out a form, or someone packing materials, etc. While this source of error can be large, it is also possible to apply Mistake-Proofing methodology in many other aspects of our business. The emphasis should be put on modifying processes so those mistakes are impossible to make, instead of blaming employees for making mistakes. The point is we must improve all aspects of our Business to be robust to mistakes or errors, no matter what the source. The traditional application of Mistake-Proofing is in a production environment where a change is made to an assembly sequence or a tool to prevent an error from being made. Examples include: o A stop is added to a drill press o A hydraulic ram is added to align a component during assembly o A lever is designed into an assembly fixture to index the part o A pin is added so the part cannot be installed backwards Mistake Proofing is the primary form of Control for transactional procedures in that it can be used to prevent a process from going out of control or to bring a process back into control. Some examples include: o Fields on a data entry form are highlighted as being critical o An authorization procedure is introduced to control spend o A check list is created to ensure all items are taken into account when planning a training session o A new policy is developed to ensure that expense claims are completed properly
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May 16, 2012

Employee Empowerment VS Lean Manufacturing

The management concept of employee empowerment can be defined as the creation of an environment in which people at all levels feel they have real influence over standards of quality, service, and business effectiveness within their areas of responsibility. It is a strategy and philosophy that enables employees to make decisions about their jobs. In an organization where this style of management is not natural, adopting a management style that embraces empowerment will be a difficult but critical change in order to succeed in the effort of implementing Lean Enterprise Thinking. Organizations that support empowered people have some common characteristics: - There are few management layers in the organization - Wide spans of control exist with relative responsibilities and accountabilities - A process-based organization structure is used as opposed to a purely functional based structure - Management stands behind people being empowered Most experts who are familiar with implementing Lean in an organization will probably state something to the effect of "... the major inhibitor to get a lean environment is the inability to trust the workforce and really give up a certain level of control in order to give people the power to implement their own ideas and be respected as experts in their area..." . Without this level of trust within the workforce, those who know best how to improve the operation will not feel they can make the changes required to eliminate all of the waste possible and the thought of continuous improvement will not become a way of thinking as it must for Lean to be truly successful. Empowering the workforce does not mean that management gives up control and lets people do whatever they please. Instead, guidelines and boundaries need to be set so that everyone knows the limits of how they can operate. A process needs to be established that allows management to set the direction for the organization but lets the workforce finds unique ways to achieve these goals and objectives. By letting the workforce be free to implement ideas within their work areas, management will find that the organization is much more productive than by following the direction of a few select individuals. The trick is to leverage one's self though the talents of everyone involved. The process of adapting an empowerment style of operating within the organization is not solely the responsibility of management. True, a manager needs to learn to let go without giving up total control, but in order for empowerment to work, the employee must accept it and the responsibility that goes with it. In short - they have to take it. However, not all are willing or able to do, or they do not know how and what it means, so care must be taken to educate and transition those involved. Changing to a mode of operating that truly empowers the members of an organization is a difficult transition to make but is one that can be accomplished. It does take time and having a coach can be a real help. Everyone involved should be patient and realize that the organization is learning a new way to operate, but once it is successful with this transition, the organization will have taken a major step towards to Being Lean and not just Doing Lean.
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May 12, 2012

The Characteristics of a Lean Enterprise

While Lean can be beneficially applied to any process within an organization, its greatest benefit comes when it is applied across the enterprise. that Lean thinking can be applied by any company anywhere in the world but that the full power of the system is only realized when it is applied to all elements of the enterprise." Over time, it can be said that an organization that implements Lean becomes a Lean Enterprise. While there is no precise definition of a Lean Enterprise, I believe those organizations share common characteristics. A Lean Enterprise can be defined by these 15 characteristics: 1.Customer Focus - The external customer is both the starting point and ending point. Maximize value to the customer. Optimize not around internal operations, but around the customer. Seek to understand not only the customer's requirements but also their expectations of quality, delivery, and price. 2.Purpose - The purpose of an organization encompasses your vision (where you want to go), your mission (what you do), and your strategies (how you do it). Focus on purpose, not tools. 3.Organizational Alignment - You want people to understand their purpose, not just their job description or the tasks that are assigned to them. All the people involved need to have a common understanding of the organization's purpose, and practical understanding of the consequences of failure and the benefits of success. 4.Knowledge - People are the engine of the company, so it is vital to build knowledge and share it. This includes explicit knowledge (like that from books) as well as tacit knowledge, involving soft skills. Knowledge is built through the scientific method of PDCA. 5.Questioning - Encourage a questioning culture. Ask why several times to try to get to the root cause. Encourage everyone to question. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood," said Stephen Covey. 6.Humility - The more you strive for Lean, the more you realize how little you know, and how much there is yet to learn. Learning begins with humility 7.Trust - Build confidence in your promises and commitments. Building trust takes time. 8.Empowered employees - Give frontline employees the first opportunity to solve problems. All employees should share in the responsibility for success and failure. 9.Flexible workforce - As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said "The only constant is change." Flexibility is the ability to react to changes in customer demand. The key to success is to maintain redundancy and hence flexibility within the core competency. 10.Partnership - Use teams, not individuals, internally between functions and externally with suppliers. Employees are partners too. As Covey says, "You must find a win-win, never win-loose, solution and if you can't you should walk away." 11.Simplicity - Lean is not simple, but simplicity pervades. Simplicity is best achieved through the avoidance of complexity, than by 'rationalization' exercises. 12.Process - Organize and think by end-to-end process. Think horizontal, not vertical. Concentrate on the way the product moves, not on the way the machines, people, or customers move. 13.Improvement - Continuous improvement is everyone's concern. Improvement should go beyond incremental waste reduction to include innovation breakthrough. 14.Prevention - Seek to prevent problems and waste, rather than to inspect and fix. Shift the emphasis from failure and appraisal to prevention. Inspecting the process, not the product, is prevention. Use poka yoke to mistake proof process errors. 15.Visualization - Visuals translate performance of every process into expected versus actual, throughout the management systems. It is regular, frequent, and factual data driven. Visuals provide the opportunity to quickly spot and take action at the earliest point that performance has not met what was expected. A Lean Enterprise is not created quickly. When a business applies lean thinking, culture, and methods throughout the entire organization and beyond its four walls to customers and suppliers a Lean Enterprise is formed.
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May 4, 2012

Logistics and Supply Chain

Most entrepreneurs and business leaders would have heard about Logistics and supply chain management. A business has to manage all of the systems within itself and has to deal with several factors within the productivity line in order to cope up with orders, withdrawal, refunds, relations, and other issues. The Logistics and supply chain management is generally a method in business that includes planning, controlling, data collecting, carrying and storing, other services, communication services and network which enhance product quality and promote improvements as well as further developments from the beginning of a productivity line to the end of a productivity line to ensure that customers at the end will receive the best of all. The management itself cares about feed backs in order to compute out the percentages of likes and dislikes so that products can be improved or produced to supply the demands and wants of the customers. The supply chain managements allow relationships within a business to flow smoothly. A relationship between a purchaser and a manufacturer is also one of the chains within the supply chain management. There are different kinds of supply chain management in logistics which vary from case to case due to different demands and situations. Its complexity in management could also vary from each other depending on the size of a business and the numbers of items manufactured. Elements of the Supply Chain Logistics and supply chain management has numbers of elements that are linked together to allow a smooth flow of productivity. The chain begins with a supplier always, and ends with a customer once the whole system is processed. 1. The customer or purchaser starts off by purchasing and deciding on items needed for sale offered by a company. Then, by contacting a sales department of any specific companies or suppliers, the amount of items needed, the date of delivery, and a specific receiving place should be written down or noted down once asked and ensured. If products are needed to be manufactured, the sales order will include additional fees and requirements that are needed to be fulfilled by the production facility. 2. The requirements by the customer's ordered sales will be combined with other orders. The production facility would also have to make plans and discuss about several topics in relation to productivity to ensure customers high quality products and make sure not to jump out or move away from the deadline. Plans include records of what is needed to be bought; items that are needed to be manufactured, and raw materials. 3. The purchasing facility receives all the information and raw materials; what is left are for them to follow the orders made by the customers and know what is needed. The purchase facility then sends all information including orders to selected suppliers to deliver raw materials and other things that are needed to the manufacturing department for them to complete the production of products within a required time period. 4. Once raw materials are accepted and received by the suppliers, they will have to check for quality and accuracy; if approved, materials will move into a warehouse. The suppliers will then send an invoice to the company the amount of materials delivered; these materials will be kept in storage until they are called out by the production department. 5. When the time has come for products to be produced, raw materials will be called out to the production department to complete orders. The finishing products ordered by customers are manufactured by raw materials that were once purchased from suppliers. Once production is done, all products will be sent back to the inventory or storage and will later be delivered to the customers. 6. After finished products are moved into warehouses and kept in storage, the shipping facility will determine which method to use in order to ship all products efficiently and consider the costs of transportation to minimize as much expenses as possible plus, deliver all products on time. Once all finished products are delivered successfully, the company will send an invoice repeating the amount of products delivered, time, date, and what products are delivered. A Healthy Operation To make sure the supply chain management will work well it is important to have associated technology and tools. In order for a business's productivity to improve, operate efficiently, and have the highest level of customer satisfaction, the supply chain management has three main activities where businesses and different parts of companies have to focus on: strategic, tactic, and operational activities. 1. Strategic activities- the company has to consider the size of the whole system, the location, partnerships with suppliers, products needed to be manufactured, and other factors that will affect the whole organization. At this level, managers will have to look closely at strategic decisions whether or not it covers the whole entire system. 2. Tactical activities- Tactical decisions include various techniques and ways to reduce costs and use up its benefits for the system. These decisions might include performing ethical practices, working with logistics companies for suggestions and tips, and get advices in order to reduce transportation costs and warehouse or storage costs. 3. Operational activities- Decisions are made daily within the system from the beginning of the productivity line to the end of the line of production. Operational practices include making plans, schedules, purchasing agreements with suppliers, taking orders from customers, and moving products into warehouses. Technology and its Effects on Businesses In order for a business to succeed and be able to compete with other businesses (especially international businesses) it is a must to have technological devices, tools, and a working or an operation system. Technology has now become our daily tools we use in life; without technology, businesses wouldn't flow or run efficiently in our modern world today. Behind the scenes, every large businesses have technological systems and one of them is called the Enterprise Resource Planning. This expensively purchased software does so many things that will squeeze down the need for employees and reduce costs as a long-term effect. This software will monitor the whole supply chain system and keep records of all information which includes date of purchase, time of purchase, amount of orders, and other information set by the settings of the software to ensure safety and accuracy.
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Apr 16, 2012

Benefits of Utilizing a Quality System

How do you currently handle quality control in your business? If you offer products to clients, you must have some system in place to make sure every product delivered to every client is of high quality.

If this is neglected, you will lose your customers and gain a reputation for producing products that do not live up to their hype. This is bad for business and one low quality product could stick with your business in a negative light for many years to come. This is why you may consider working with a quality management system designed by a professional ISO consultant.

There are four main benefits to moving beyond your own system to a quality management system that can be ISO certified:

1. Longevity and growth for your business.

When you work with an ISO consultant to improve the quality of your products, you ensure that your business will be around for a long time to come. When your products become more valuable and are consistent over time, you start to gain the trust of the consumer. Your excellent quality is talked about in communities and word of mouth spreads. You become one of the most trust brands in your market because you care enough to work with a quality management system that keeps your products at the top of the market.

2. Increased prestige and enhanced reputation.

Along with increased quality comes prestige and a positive reputation in your industry. As your customers note your exceptional and consistent quality, so will your competitors. So will others who may be looking for someone in your industry to do business with. A lot of great things can happen for your reputation as you start to implement a quality management system.

3. Greater opportunity to sell in markets around the world.

There are untapped markets that you cannot get into today without being ISO certified. The only way to get ISO certified is to work with an ISO consultant who knows all about quality control and the standards for certification. They can help you implement a quality management system that passes for certification and that you can afford to continue implementing in the future. In order to remain a competitor in these worldwide markets, you will need to be very consistent with implementing and documenting your system as it pertains to quality.

4. Peace of mind that you are delivering what you promised your customers.

Finally, you have your own peace of mind that you are doing the right thing for your customers and the market when you implement an efficient quality management system. Whether you are interested in ISO certification right now or just might be open to it in the future, you will feel good knowing that the products you sell are of high quality.

All product lines require high quality today. Whether you are baking donuts and cakes or selling swing sets or baby cribs, you have to make sure the products stamped with your brand name represent your name very well. Your reputation and the future of your business is on the line!

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Apr 14, 2012

Importance of ISO 14001

ISO 14001 is an internationally recognised certificate which evaluates how well an organisation manages its environmental responsibilities by guiding them through the process of putting an Environmental Management System (EMS) into use.

An EMS is a widely used and recognised standard which concentrates on both continued improvement of how you manage the impact you have on the environment while implementing a 'plan, do, check, act' methodology to ensure that no stone is left unturned.

The process by which a business becomes certified is relatively simple and unlike before it is much more accessible in terms of cost and time. You can be certified within 30 days after completing an assessment in which your business is examined and advised on areas that need to be rectified to comply with all the regulations set out for the ISO 14001 accreditation.

There are many benefits to becoming ISO 14001 certified and it can in fact directly help to drive profits of your business. After completion of the assessment, you will receive along with your certificate an environmental manual which will not only outline the guidelines you have to work within but also advice on obtaining maximum publicity and marketing from your achievement which will help you to gain new customers.

In the current climate, seeing to be environmentally friendly is of paramount importance and with the ISO 14001 certificate you are letting your customers, clients and competitors know that the environment is something you take very seriously. This in turn will earn you the respect and reputation of a trustworthy business. There are some customers who are obliged only to work with or purchase from certified organisations therefore with the certification you can be safe in the knowledge that you are not ignoring potential clients and gives you a competitive edge over rivals.

Organisations now are legally obligated to conform to rules and regulations regarding their waste management and energy consumption, an ISO 14001 certificate proves that you are definitely complying with any legislation and avoids potentially being liable for a large fine and any legal cases.

The processes the EMS puts into place will also save your organisation money in the long run. By reducing waste fewer resources are used and by looking at ways in which your organisation consumes energy bills can be reduced.

An ISO 14001 certification also grows alongside the business. When you expand there is no reason to waste time and money on new environmental management systems as they are already there and as the certificate is recognised internationally if you expand into other countries the certificate just effectively moves with you.

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Apr 9, 2012

Qualifications of a Six Sigma Project Manager

Some people have worked in their business positions without a higher education. However, to obtain and keep a managerial position, you will need to make yourself a better candidate than anyone else. Getting a four year college degree is a start. However, a graduate education will put you even further ahead to start.

You cannot work in the Six Sigma field without some level of certification. How will you know the practices and procedures to follow if you are not trained properly? When you enroll in Six Sigma Training, you get the total amount of information necessary to take it to your place of business in order to succeed. You know how to solve problems and come up with solutions for your employer or clients.

If you have experience on an actual Six Sigma Project in any capacity, you can put that on your resume. Sometimes a training provider will allow you to work on sample cases during your training. But in the real world, people want to know that you can affect change on actual business processes. If you have the experience and can demonstrate a marked improvement, this is another way to increase your advantage.

As a project manager you will be required to work with a team and even supervise it. If you have any managerial experience, it will help to fortify that you can do the job. Every team needs a leader. If you do not currently have leadership experience, try to take leadership enrichment courses and ask for leadership responsibilities at your current position.

It may seem obvious, but you will need to know how to effectively use a computer. You will need to know more than just basic operating procedures. It is good to understand all computer software that will be used to document and report your quality findings. You do not just need to be computer literate, but proficient.

There are many manufacturing industries that you can work in. Even if you do have certification and managerial experience, you will not get hired if you do not understand the industry that the job is in. Try and stick within one or similar industries to improve your chances of gaining employment.

One cannot simply get certified and expect to obtain a Six Sigma project manager job. There are many attributes that are needed to get the position. These are managerial skills, computer knowledge, higher education and degree, industry experience and project experience. It is important that you stand out to the person doing the candidate selection. These qualifications will get you noticed. If you have them, you are one step closer to getting hired.

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Mar 28, 2012

Six Sigma Benchmarking

There are different types of scaling used to propel growth. Most people use it to increase the visibility of their businesses. These days, most businesses have websites which they use to interact with their customers.

Through the websites, customers stay informed on new products, improvements, expansions and changes in management. It helps create loyalty among customers as well as penetrate deeper into the market.

Six Sigma Benchmarking, however, is a very complicated concept and can only be performed by trained professionals. The process helps companies understand the main perspectives in their business industries. They include visibility, market effectiveness and website design. If implemented properly, the business will dramatically project new growth and remain competitive in the market for a very long time.

The concept works in review of ten practical steps. Understanding these steps can help companies understand the benefits and drawbacks of the benchmarking initiatives they utilize. Doing this helps businesses identify the best approaches to realize bigger profits. The main aim of this concept is to measure the company's products or services against the most recognized ones in the world.

It is important to understand that the entire Six Sigma methodology is a continuous process. The information, operations and market penetration are measured against those of big companies. Through this, companies learn the best business practices in the world. Having an insight of practices of established companies enable small businesses to understand where they need to put more attention.

An in-depth analysis of performance helps add value to working processes eventually. It is a tool that endeavors to instill professionalism with the belief that the company can also lead while following others. The steps are very systematic and one cannot be done without each other. The benchmarking process can only work perfectly if it is implemented by trained and dedicated Six Sigma individuals. All the steps must be followed to ensure that all aspects are analyzed adequately.

There are normally four important steps the methodology addresses. This includes strategizing, analyzing, integration and actualization. Under these phases are ten practical steps which can help streamline the operations of any business seeking to realize growth. The planning phase is actually the most important. In this phase, businesses identify opportunities and create priorities. The second phase is the analysis phase and, as the name suggests, it consists of analyzing data collected in the planning phase. The integration phase provides the framework that will help implement the recommended plans. The final phase is the actualization phase where everything that the business comes up with is implemented and improved upon. Six Sigma benchmarking is quite beneficial because it helps small businesses learn practices. It helps companies to discover new ways of improving operations to realize bigger growth.

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Mar 24, 2012

ISO 14001 Accreditation

If you are someone who is looking into getting an ISO 14001, then you may be wondering exactly why it is that you have to get this accreditation. First, you have to understand that ISO stands for the International Organisation of Standardisation.

This is a series of standards that have been developed with a singular level of guidance for all companies to measure up to. The particular 14001 deals with the requirements that you will need to have in order to measure up to the environmental standards that have been set forth by the ISO.

While you do not necessarily have to get the ISO 14001 accreditation to operate your business, it is something you can do to prove to your clients and customers that you are doing your part to help out with the environment. However, you may be confused on how to go about getting this important accreditation, but it is not as difficult to attain as you might think, and most businesses should be able to get the certification within a year of the application. You should know that they will want to make sure that you have been following some form of environmental standards for at least three months prior to your application. To do this you can write an environmental review of your company's environmental impact as it is in its current operating state. You will then want to make sure that you provide this information when you send off your initial paperwork to begin the overall process.

In order to help prove that your company is doing its part to be environmentally aware you will have to go through an initial audit once the application has been filled out and filed. After the audit has been completed you will get a list of issues that the auditor feels you need to resolve before you can be certified for the ISO 14001. You will need to work on and correct these issues before the second audit is conducted, and they will give you a time period (usually three to six months) when they will return to check on your progress.

When the second audit occurs they will once again assess the overall business and then they will address the issues that were laid out in the previous audit. If everything goes well then your company will have proven that they are doing what they can to meet the standard set forth in ISO 14001, and they will then receive accreditation. However, this is not the end of the process. Even though you are now recognised as having environmentally conscious policies that are congruent with the international standards, you will have to go through periodic audits every three years to make sure that you are still operating correctly. Not only this, but every three months partial aspects of your company will be analysed to see that they are still working within the standards as well. As long as you remain within the compliance terms you will continue to receive your ISO 14001 certification.

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Mar 23, 2012

On Job Training

On job training is part of every manager's job. But some managers aren't aware that adults learn differently to children. Being aware just how adults learn can markedly improve the quality of on job training.

1. Learning By Doing

In broad terms, children learn by being told. Adults learn by doing. Ensure that your on job training has a strong emphasis on practical action rather than theory and telling. Adults do not need to know "why" in order to learn and practice skills. Few drivers know how a reciprocating engine works. It's the engine that powers your car. You don't need to know how it works in order to drive well.

2. Try Out

Adults like to try out skills. Provided it's safe, allow trainees to "try their hand" extensively. Supervise them closely so that they avoid errors.

3. Discovery

Pose a problem. Give adult trainees the opportunity to "work things out". Ask lots of questions. Don't be too directive. Just make sure you're always on hand to help.

4. Self Pacing

Try to let trainees work at a pace that they're comfortable with. Avoid slow, tedious instruction and avoid rushing through material too quickly. Adapt your instruction to the pace that suits your trainee. If they show that they're learning quickly, provide more opportunities for them to demonstrate their competence.

5. Problem Centred

Make sure you present your instruction as providing skills and knowledge that will help trainees solve a problem. Avoid presenting material that's merely "useful" and lacks direct relationship to on job performance.

6. Making Sense

Adults learn better when the learning process makes sense to them. Elaborate and complex instruction will discourage many trainees.

7. Acknowledge Experience

Take care that you acknowledge trainee's past experience. Test to see what they can already do so that you're not asking them to learn what they know already. That's a huge turn off to adult learners.

8. Results Emphasis

Ensure that you inform trainees what result they'll achieve through the training. Adults like to know the result that they're aiming for.

9. Perceived Needs

Adult trainees want to be certain that on job training meets their perceived needs. Before commencing instruction, make sure that you and the trainee are agreed that the training will satisfy the needs they believe they have.

10. They Are Adults

Treat adults trainees like adults, not children. They may have some knowledge and skill deficiencies that need your training. But they expect you to respect them as mature "grown-ups" not ignorant children.

These principles apply to all on job training, even if it's brief and informal. Ensure that you circulate this article to anyone in your business who's involved in on job training.

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Mar 20, 2012

Employee Conflict

These are some common beliefs about the three stages of employee conflict.

Here are my thoughts - what do you think?

•"The presence of conflict is the sign of a poor leader!" (I think conflict used in a competitive way to generate new ideas or increase productivity to meet an earlier deadline can be a good thing.)

•"Anger is always negative and destructive." (I think anger can become negative and destructive if allowed to develop and grow.)

•"Conflict, if left alone, will take care of itself." (I think that's not always true. I believe leaders should always be aware of conflict within their groups but not always involved. Sometimes it can take care of itself.)

•"Conflict must be resolved immediately." (Once again, not necessarily. This is like the one above that can become a problem but is not automatically one requiring the leader's intervention. A wise leader will observe and see if the participants can work out their own differences. After all, the leader will not always be there to act as a referee.)

Conflict builds in three distinct stages and has these characteristics.

STAGE ONE-"Irritating Daily Events"

Characteristics and clues of Stage One

•Comments are focused on "non-human" topics (machinery, weather, traffic, the "system [computers, the organizational culture, procedures]" etc.)
•Words are in the present tense ("This copier is out of paper".)
•More focus on a solution than the problem ("This copier is out of paper: where is the supply so I can refill it?")

Ways to Handle Stage One

•Initiate a response that examines the situation. ("Looks like the copier's out of paper. Do you know where the stock of it is?")
•Ask yourself if the reaction is proportional to the situation. Is anyone carrying "baggage" from previous situations? How would you know? Hint: What tense are they using to describe their position: present or past?
•Identify points of agreement and work from these points first and then identify the points of disagreement. ("I agree with you that it seems like no one else restocks the copier but you. But at least we can rely on you.")

STAGE TWO - Challenges Requiring "Win-Lose" Results

Characteristics and clues of Stage Two

You must LISTEN FOR these clues:

•Words are in the past tense ("This copier never has paper in it! It's always empty!")
•Comments are focused on "human" topics (machinery maintenance person, weather man, traffic - a particular driver, the "system [computers service people, the organizational culture - a particular person within it, procedures - a particular person who doesn't follow them]" etc. "I hate people who can't even restock a copier run they run it out of paper!")
•More focus on who caused the problem - or allowed it to happen - than a solution ("The copier on this floor needs paper. Who is supposed to keep it full?")

Important considerations for Stage Two:

•Coping strategies DO NOT WORK because people are the problem and the conflicts do not go away.
•Self-interest is very important. "CYA" ('Cover Your Assets') is a survival strategy.
•People take sides, take notes, and keep score. Alliances and cliques may form. A "us" vs. "them" mentality develops.
•Discussion of issues and answers are futile because participants and the problem have become too closely entangled. (Similar to a heated political discussion.)
•Participants deal in terms that are more general. You will hear about the phantom "them" and comments as "everyone thinks...", "always..." and "never" increase in frequency. Each side is reluctant to provide facts without asking, "How will you use this information?"

Ways to Handle Stage Two Conflict

•Create a safe environment to discuss the situation which includes:

a) Make the setting informal

b) Establish neutral turf

c) Have an agenda so there is focus on an outcome

•Be hard on facts, soft on people. Take time to get every detail. Clarify generalizations. Who, by name, are "they"? Are you sure that "always" or "never" is accurate?
•Do not let the participants sit across from each other. Arrange to get them sitting beside each other across from you. (Sitting across from each other so they make eye contact can start it all again.)
•Focus on points of agreement to find a middle ground. Do not suggest that each side "concedes" something because that implies "giving in". Rather, suggest a "trade". "Do you agree this bickering is becoming an aggravation for the two of you? If so, maybe we can work a way to resolve this. Sam, would you be willing to trade proof-reading of your work before you give it to Sue if she will stop making comments about your work quality?"
•Take as much time as necessary to reach agreement without forcing concessions or issues.
•Avoid voting to resolve issues because that leads to a "win - lose" result. (The only way to avoid having hurt feelings by voting is if you are assured of a unanimous decision before you begin!)

STAGE THREE- Eliminating the "Enemy"

Characteristics and Clues of Stage 3

•The motivation is to "get rid" of the opponent, not just win. Being right and punishing wrong become consuming goals.
•The competing parties identify "insiders" and "outsiders". "You are either with me or against me!"
•Leaders emerge from the group to act as representatives.
•You equate your position as doing "what's good for the organization! ["I have to fire you for the good of the organization".]"
•Specific causes of the problem get lost in the emotion. Many newly recruited team members may not know the origins of the conflict.

Ways to Handle Stage Three Conflict

•An outside intervention agent or team (a neutral person or department) is required as a mediator so neither side feels this third party favors the other.
•Details are critical to a thorough understanding of the situation by the mediator.
•You must allow sufficient time to get a true picture of both sides of the case.
•The mediator can ask each side to present their case (without comment from the other) and identify the results they would like to achieve in this process.
•The mediator puts the responsibility on the two teams to find areas of common agreement or trade in search for an agreement.
•Not every participant on both teams may be at Stage 3. Try to break off members at lower stages and redirect their energies away from this situation.

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Mar 13, 2012

Error Proofing

Mistake proofing is an effort to stop defects at the source. The prime objective is to prevent defects from occurring in the first place, but if they do occur, to stop their progression through the process. By stopping a defect at its source, its cost impact is minimized.

The further the defect progresses through a process, the more waste occurs. The more waste that occurs, the higher the cost impact. As a result, the best place to stop a defect is in the design of the process, product, or service. Once the process is in place, waste starts to be generated as a process output along with the product or service.

The first step in mistake proofing is to determine the kind of error, or errors, that caused the defect. In a Six Sigma project, this is what the Define, Measure, and Analyze phases have been isolating on a project level. As part of the Improve Phase, the problem process will be re-engineered. Part of this re-engineering will be mistake proofing the process steps.

There are general classifications of errors that lead to defects. Different organizations may have somewhat different categories.

Concentration: Lack of concentration, breaks in concentration, interruptions
Knowledge: Lack of training or experience
Judgment: Prejudice, expectation
Mistakes: Forgetting, accidents
Speed: Working too fast, working too slow
Standards: The absence of standardized work, absence of performance standards
Independence: Deciding to ignore rules or standards, freelancing
Intentional: Deliberate mistakes, sabotage
Incidental: Equipment failures, environment, surprises
Unknown: These will usually find their way into one of the above categories after analysis.

There are several approaches to mistake proofing. Each approach addresses at least one of the above error categories. The following are some of the more common strategies.

In manufacturing, one of the most common approaches is the use of fail-safe devices. These devices prevent the operator or machine from creating a defect. An example would be the use of a slipping-type torque wrench to prevent over tightening.

The magnification of the senses is another mistake proofing method. Examples would be optical magnification to improve vision and closed circuit video to see where it is not otherwise possible to see (distance, safety, etc.). Also used are pictures instead of numbers (LED bar charts instead or a numerical display on a meter) and multiple signals (audible and visual alarms used together).

The elimination of error-prone steps in a process is another method of mistake proofing. This may require designing a new process or the use of automation. An example of this is the use of ambient-light sensors to turn outside lighting on or off.

Facilitation of the work process will also aid in mistake proofing. This is changing the process steps so that they are easier to do, or easier to do right. An example would be to color code parts that are similar in shape. This would make it easier to identify the correct part for assembly.

Devices that detect an incorrect action or part can be used to mistake proof a process. Examples would include a weld counter to ensure the correct number of welds or a software modification that will not allow incorrect entries.

There are as many mistake-proofing strategies as there are mistakes. It requires communication and cooperation between the operators, the process owners, and the engineering staff to successfully execute. In many businesses these functions are silo'ed and do not work together well. This is why progressive companies are putting together production teams for both products and services. These teams are made up of dedicated operators, engineers, and managers all working in the same process. They all have ownership of the process, and as a result, communication and cooperation are easier to maintain.

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Mar 10, 2012

Quality Control System For Your Online Business

Quality control begins when an order is placed with a business. A system needs to be in place to effectively manage orders placed through the web. This might include a database. When an order comes through you cannot depend on an email going to one specific person because if that person is sick for the week then you might get backed up on orders and cause irate customers.

An order system needs to be in place so that everyone knows how to use it and can access information when necessary.

You should have a return or an exchange policy. If you have a policy of no returns or people are buying products 'as is', then you are most likely losing trust with the customers. Customers trust a company that will back their products with a guarantee or a promise to replace it if something should go wrong. The return policy should be in place to provide refunds or credit. They might be a pain for your business, and may create a small cost with shipping, but they ultimately create trust with the customers. These customers will rave about your products and keep coming back if they are happy with your services.

The ability to track returns is very important. If you have a product that continuously is returned then maybe you need to look into why this product is repeatedly returned. Without the ability to track which products are being returned, you will not be aware which products are defective or making your customers unhappy. A good quality control system online should include a good system of tracking returns from customers.

A quality control system on the web is different because you really need to address issues regarding quality on a case by case basis. When a customer states there is a defect on a product it is important that you verify. You can trust a customer but you must verify. Be sure you always offer an easy solution to the problem. Keeping the customer happy is important if you want them to return and shop with the online business again. Set appropriate steps in place internally to take care of the customers.

Customers need to come first. The web provides a less personal business because the customers do not see an employee or a face when they are shopping. The best way to remedy problems with customers is to assure them right up front that you are willing to fix any problem or do whatever you can to create a satisfaction.

A quality control system needs to be in place with any business whether it is online or face to face based sales. Establishing quality control begins with the order and return process. Be sure you have an easy tracking method for orders placed, shipped, and returned. Always make the customer feel important and let them know you will do whatever it takes to provide a quality product or give them a refund.

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Mar 4, 2012


How do you define it?
This is how our readers define quality.
(Note: these definitions are straight from our database and have not been edited.

"Quality itself has been defined as fundamentally relational: 'Quality is the ongoing process of building and sustaining relationships by assessing, anticipating, and fulfilling stated and implied needs.'

"Even those quality definitions which are not expressly relational have an implicit relational character. Why do we try to do the right thing right, on time, every time? To build and sustain relationships. Why do we seek zero defects and conformance to requirements (or their modern counterpart, six sigma)? To build and sustain relationships. Why do we seek to structure features or characteristics of a product or service that bear on their ability to satisfy stated and implied needs? (ANSI/ASQC.) To build and sustain relationships. The focus of continuous improvement is, likewise, the building and sustaining of relationships. It would be difficult to find a realistic definition of quality that did not have, implicit within the definition, a fundamental express or implied focus of building and sustaining relationships."

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Feb 25, 2012

Design Risk Assessment In Six Sigma

The title ?Design Risk Assessment in Six Sigma? beckons to be likened with Poka Yoke or ?Mistake Proofing?. But without going deeper into the comparison part of it, what we can say is that both of these don?t have any similarities whatsoever, even though Poka Yoke appears to be the next logical step of Design risk Assessment in Six Sigma.

So What Is Design Risk Assessment In Six Sigma?

As the name suggests, design risk analysis is the procedure to determine potential risks in designs and design processes. In Six Sigma, the assessment for design risks is not a ritual that is done at the end but it is an inherent step in the design process itself. It begins from the point of conceptualizing designs where the evaluation exercise continues throughout the designing till the prototype is tested.

The design assessment for potential risks involves design simulation testing at steps including testing the detailed design and sub-assemblies (subroutines for software, etc) with a view to completely eliminate possible risks and cut down the shocks of design failures. For once, the design risk assessment in Six Sigma goes beyond the CTQ technique providing the design process the much needed broader evaluation.

Ensuring Reliability Of Design

The need for reliability of design can?t be overemphasized. The potential hazards of a faulty design extend beyond VOC and ROI parameters. Design risks can?t be overlooked even for service offerings even though manufacturing needs to take extra care of this aspect.

What ensures a systematic and rigorous scrutiny in the dependability of the design also allows capturing system-level hazards.

Design Risk Assessment Methodologies And Tools

PHA, ?Preliminary Hazard Analysis? is a qualitative assessment of hazards, constituents of the associated functional system and event successions that could potentially result in avoidable consequences. The study includes possible incidents and possible remedial actions. But significantly, this is a qualitative study whose efficacy is applicable only for initial studies.

DFMEA, an implementation methodology, serves as a quantified appraisal of the criticality of internal failures of CTQ & CTC together with performance components. The typical FMEA form may be used also for design assessments and transfers of know-how.

On the performance front, meeting customer expectations infers using CTC's, design parameters which assist meet all of the requirements. It also takes care of the manufacturability requirements. One might think of calling this CTQ.

The Need For Documentation

Results of risk analysis tests needs to be documented and then updated as the product or service moves in its cycle onto production phase, based on real time failure statistics, which serves as true risk-management and feedback document on design for future reference.

The most interesting application of the concept can be found in Bank of America?s assessment for credit products? inherent risks which ultimately helped eliminate potential fraud elements.

There are multiple instances where FMEA has served as main mast in design and failure evaluation.

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Feb 22, 2012

Process Simulation And Six Sigma

Six Sigma has become one of the most commonly used quality management techniques since its introduction in the 1990's. The importance of Six Sigma has continued to increase ever since companies like GE began implementing it's various concepts and techniques in their business processes. This has helped the company in saving billions of dollars since the time when the concepts were first implemented.

The Simulation Process

Process simulation is one of the various techniques used in Six Sigma, involving the use of a computerized model of an actual business process. The computerized model used in process simulation is designed by inputting all the critical components of a business process such as process inputs, process flow, and the various sub-systems used in the process. With the help of the computerized process simulation model, process managers can easily view the whole process within a few minutes that would have normally taken days or even weeks to complete in the real world. Process simulation helps in collecting large data samples, which can be further analyzed and used for predicting the effects of changes made in real business processes. This allows analysts to simulate all the possible changes that can be made in a business process and analyzing the effect of such changes on the end result. Changes that are most helpful in improving the quality can be selected and put through more rigorous simulation processes for confirming the potential benefits of such changes. Once this is done, the changes can be applied in the real process as by now it is quite certain that the changes will be successful in improving the quality of goods manufactured or services rendered.

When And Where To Use

Although process simulation is a powerful tool, it must be used in the right manner and only in appropriate business processes. If the necessary information is not inputted correctly, the computerized simulation model will not be able to predict the effect of changes made in the business process. This can seriously affect the quality of end products if such changes are implemented in the real process. Process simulation is most effective when a business process is complicated and difficult to visualize. For less complicated processes, it is better to use process mapping in combination with brainstorming techniques for generating innovative quality improvement ideas. Process simulation is helpful in simulating business processes that require managers to make informed decision at every stage of the process. Process simulation is used for improving the logistics of a manufacturing company by mapping the exact flow of materials from the time they enter the factory floor to the time when they reach the final consumer in the form of finished goods.

Risks And Drawbacks

Although process simulation is very beneficial, it can also create problems for an organization if not used properly. Companies very often make the mistake of employing process simulation in every business process in the hope of improving quality. This can create confusion among the employees, especially when the company and its workforce are new to the concepts and philosophies of Six Sigma. If a process is too long and involves various sub-processes, it is better to concentrate on sub-processes that affect the quality of the end product. Companies often try to simulate the whole process, which leads to the wastage of both time and effort. For realizing the full potential of process simulation, organizations need to simulate only on those processes that are critical to the quality of goods manufactured or services rendered.

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Feb 19, 2012

How to Choose a Six Sigma Black Belt Project

Selecting the most appropriate Six Sigma Black Belt project is the most common problem faced by students who enroll themselves in a Six Sigma training course.

The project is necessary as it helps students learn the practical aspects of Six Sigma implementation programs. The project is conducted either before the commencement of the training program or during the first week.

Identifying A Problem

Before starting a project, students first need to identify a problem, similar to real life implementation problems faced by business organizations. The problem that is identified and its possible solutions form the base of the project. For ensuring the successful completion of the project, students need to select a problem about which they have a basic level of understanding. Selecting a complex problem based on a case study published in a management journal is not recommended, as the project requires students to practically solve a given problem.

The information given in the management journal will only help students in preparing the project report and not in evolving practical solutions to the problem, which students will have to do on their own. The main reason why use of case studies are not recommended is that the resources that might have been used in solving the real life problem may not be the same as provided by the organization where students are receiving their training. Training instructors also encourage students to opt for a project that is relevant to their domain or qualifications.

Select Manageable Projects

Every Six Sigma Black Belt project needs to have a defined objective. Many students make the mistake of opting for a project having multiple objectives, which is often not achievable within the stipulated timeframe. Even after giving it their best shot, most of these students are often unable to make progress in their quality improvement projects. The only option left for these students is to either reduce the scope of their project objectives or opt for a completely new project, which will mean more hard work and time. In most cases, these students opt for the first alternative in order to allot adequate time to theoretical training as well.

No doubt, there are students who have completed even the most complex projects, but going by statistics, the number of failed attempts is a lot higher than the number of successful attempts. Students who are not sure of their abilities should not try to achieve everything at the first go. Instead, they should try to concentrate more on learning the basics involved in Six Sigma programs. There will be plenty of time in their professional career for solving the most complex of Six Sigma implementation problems in an organization.

During the course of the project, the primary objective of students should be to develop insights, which will help them a lot when they become true professional after the completion of the training program. Concentrating their efforts just on achieving the objectives may not help them, as by doing so, they are most likely to miss the basics of Six Sigma. The scope of objectives in a Six Sigma Black Belt project does not matter as long as students are able to develop a thorough understanding of their individual projects and are able to assess the impact it will have on the quality of the outcome.

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Feb 18, 2012

How To Manage Six Sigma Teams

Six Sigma is a continuous procedure, which can help companies reduce the over all expenses and expenditures, and increase profits by streamlining operations, improving quality and eliminating all the problem areas.

Not only does 6 Sigma benefit an organization, but also the organization can benefit Six Sigma by managing it. Management must be led by highly qualified and trained individuals.

Managing a 6 Sigma team is not an easy task and it is fairly impossible for a single person to manage a 6 Sigma project on their own. 6 Sigma is a team process that requires teamwork at most levels. Managing a Six Sigma team starts from the uppermost levels of the organization. The company's leaders must provide resources to the teams and the authority to apply these 6 Sigma concepts in their day-to-day activities. Company leaders must also ensure that the company goals are associated with 6 Sigma projects and they must see to the removal of any obstacles that might stand in the way of 6 Sigma deployment.

Selection And Training Of Six Sigma Team Leaders

6 Sigma team leaders need to be properly selected and trained, as they play a crucial role in the management of the entire team. Not only are they responsible for managing the team, they are also the main change representatives for the Six Sigma process. 6 Sigma team leaders are directly responsible for managing their teams. A 6 Sigma Black Belt is the team leader and the responsibility of the Black Belt is to facilitate 6 Sigma as part of the culture.

Black Belts need to be trained in Six Sigma methodology and they must have prior experience in leading teams. The 6 Sigma team leader or the Black Belt must have leadership qualities, they should be able to understand the team dynamics and should be able to assign to each team member their individual roles and responsibilities. They help the teams achieve and sustain noteworthy results.

Important Aspects Of Managing A Six Sigma Team

Leading and mentoring are the two most important aspects of managing a 6 Sigma team.

As the leader, the Black Belt should be willing to adjust to circumstances. They should be able to recognize and manage occasional setbacks. By directly being involved with the team, the Black Belts help implement improvements in a quick and efficient manner. The main role of the Black Belt includes minimizing group conflict and handling out-of-control meetings. 6 Sigma includes practices that substitute hasty, imprudent habits with a dynamic, open and practical method of management.

It is important for the team leader or the Black Belt to be a mentor to everyone on the team. After their training, new candidates must be given proper guidance. This ensures the timely completion of projects and regular corrections being made in the course. 6 Sigma supports teamwork and the Black Belt should work towards creating a healthy and productive team environment. The Black Belt should arrange the team in such a way so as to best utilize the individual knowledge and techniques of the individual team members. Black Belts should help improve and increase members' morale. Every circumstance should be regarded as an opportunity by the Black Belt to help guide and instruct the individual team members and to improve the organization as a whole.

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Feb 16, 2012

Future Of Six Sigma

Since its introduction in the 1990's, 6-Sigma has become the buzzword in both the manufacturing and service industries. The various methodologies used in 6-Sigma are based on a disciplined and data driven approach that help in eliminating defects and achieving near perfection by restricting the number of possible defects to less than 3.4 defects per million.

The methodologies are effective in managing business processes of both the manufacturing and service industries. In manufacturing industries, the concepts and methodologies are used for reducing the number of defects whereas in service industries, they are used mainly for reducing transactional errors.

Although many companies have been successful in reducing the number of defects through Six Sigma projects, the arguments raised against the efficacy of 6-Sigma in all aspects of business processes still do not seem to die down. Some management experts think that Six Sigma is inherently flawed, as it does not take into account the flaws that might be present in the system itself. They are of the opinion that the analytical and statistical tools used in 6-Sigma only expose flaws in the execution and do not account for a process that itself is riddled with defects.

Supporters of Six Sigma offer a different viewpoint. According to them, quality management tools such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and 6-Sigma are conceptually quite similar except for their labels. Business organizations may use any of these for improving overall quality. However, they often give preference to 6-Sigma as they believe that Six Sigma is more than just a process improvement program and is based on concepts that focus on continuous quality improvements. They have the opinion that 6-Sigma concepts combine statistical measurement tools with contemporary management techniques for achieving extraordinary results.

The Limited Use Of Six Sigma

6-Sigma gained prominence as an effective quality improvement technique after it was successfully implemented in Motorola. Since then, many large organizations have implemented 6-Sigma programs and improved the quality of manufactured goods or services rendered. However, the full potential of 6-Sigma has not been realized so far because many competent small to medium level enterprises have still not implemented Six Sigma programs. These enterprises have all the resources to implement such programs, but are often wary of the final certification, as they believe that it is meant only for large organizations. These companies often do not realize that 6-Sigma delivers the same benefits to both large as well as small business enterprises. The only difference may be in the volume of goods manufactured or services rendered.

The Future Of Six Sigma

6-Sigma may appear similar to other quality management tools such as TQM or Kaizen Events, but in reality, it is quite different. Other quality management programs often reach a stage after which no further quality improvements can be made. 6-Sigma, on the other hand, is different as it focuses on taking quality improvement processes to the next level. This means that 6-Sigma has the potential to outlast other quality management programs in the future.

The scope of 6-Sigma is also much broader than other quality management programs as it can be applied to every business process of an organization. The future is bright for 6-Sigma programs with the growing awareness in small and medium enterprises about the potential benefits that can be derived from implementing such programs.

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Feb 4, 2012

Lean Production

To start off with, what is lean production? One definition of lean production is; a manufacturing performance improvement approach and philosophy that emphasizes the minimization of the amount of all the resources (including time).

It involves identifying and removing non-value-adding activities in design, production, supply chain management, and dealing with the customers. Put simply it's a way to cut costs by taking away/minimizing time consuming activities. Note that implementing lean production is difficult.

The lean manufacturing history is thought to stem from the research Ford carried out in 1986 on Toyota, the business strategies implemented reduced production times, giving lower costs per unit, but it also gave an increase to quality. The lean manufacturing success of Toyota sparked the beginning of a new production method.

A common mistake among students is to identify lean production with Just in Time (JIT), although it is a part of it, it is not the basis of the production method. When/if a business decides to become a lean producer there and 4 principles they must apply for the lean strategy to work:

Lean quality
Lean design
Lean people management
Lean component supply

Lean Design

The first of the lean techniques involves assessing and improving upon product development, or product modifications, so that the firm can quickly and efficiently adapt to the changing business environment. Computer aided design (cad software) is one of the most flexible and quickest method for firms to design new products quickly, and transfer new product ideas from the conception stage to the market, this can lead to first mover advantage. First mover advantages include such things as; A high, if not 100% market share in the product, brand loyal customers (since they can see you as the first, therefore the best) and allows the business to establish a foot-in-the-door effect, which is needed to focus customers on their specific product when the copy firms move in.

When lean companies look for speedy product development and launch, time-based management plays a crucial role. Time-based management is, essentially, minimizing the time between product design and product launch. It looks for the areas in the business where simultaneous engineering can take place (decision trees are a good example of this) which cuts costs by saving time and money.

Lean quality

Quality is an expensive area for business organisations, but there are greater costs when ignoring quality. Bad quality can lead to bad publicity, a poor brand image and a great loss of customer loyalty. On the human resource side of things, one of the best ways to increase quality is by training the employees in all aspects of the production, making them multi skilled and making them feel more empowered giving greater motivation. The importance of quality will also be reflected throughout a firm's culture. Quality techniques include quality circles and kaizen groups: using both of these would be the best way to bring in ideas from employees, this brings greater employee motivation and productivity.

Lean people management

What is people management? People management is simply as it says, a way in which people involved in and outside the business are treated and used. Lean producers will aim to fully utilize all the skills and ideas of their workers. They will attempt to ensure that all their workers are fully trained and multi skilled in the businesses production methods. Empowerment and delegation are key to lean people management and they therefore create participation schemes to enable staff to contribute their ideas and experiences. This not only makes them feel valued, but also benefits the firm by getting ideas from experienced workers. This delegation of decision-making power makes workers feel more involved and, therefore, more committed to the business objectives of the firm. Motivation is key to productivity and therefore lower costs.

Lean Component supply

Just-in-time (JIT) is a system of stock management that involves only requesting a new supply of materials once there is a definite need. This is the moment students say 'Good, JIT, I know all about that.' But, in addition to understanding the benefits of JIT such as: saving money on space and insurance and removing the risk of holding stocks that may become damaged or obsolete (as with food), the opportunity costs also need to be considered. The firm will no longer be able to benefit from bulk-buying discounts (economies of scale) or be able to respond immediately to a customer order. The conditions necessary for JIT to work also have to be recognised. The firm must have reliable suppliers who are able to supply on demand with a short delivery time. Proximity is always good and accessibility is also important for a quick supply and delivery.


To summarize, the key aspects of lean production students should know that: Lean production is expensive, there are high start up costs and it cannot be applied to every business, most economies of scale advantages are lost and it can take a long time for the workforce to adapt to a such a change and some employees may reject the changes.

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