Friday, 30 November 2018

12 Best Lean and Six Sigma Tools to Improve Businesses

      Lean and Six Sigma are used by many organizations within a variety of industries which combine mindset and methods adopted from each approach. Tools and methodologies make up a management system to scientifically solve the business problems. These tools can be used to great effect by all kinds of organizations. Lean tools can be a methodology, mindset or practice that helps to apply lean principles to your work. There are many tools that help team practice the lean business effectively and each has its own value.

Value Stream Mapping - It is designed to ensure that each part of the business process offers tangible value to the customer. Value can be defined as the something the customer willing to pay for. When carrying out the value stream mapping, the current processes are examined and documented. Any step, task or expenditure on resources that do not produce value will be eliminated or improved.

Standard Work - If predictable and consistent results are to be achieved by business, it is important that every process is carried out in the same way irrespective of the tasks associated with the process. It can be achieved by developing. documenting and enforcing standard work. Standard work is the representation of the organizations current best practices for performance of different parts of its process. This tool creates a standard expectation day after day to make sure everything is taken care of and within a certain time period.

Mistake Proofing(Poka-Yoke) -  Poka-Yoke is the concept of error proofing to prevent some calamity. It is an improvement in the form of a jig or fixture that helps to achieve 100% acceptable product by preventing the occurrence of defects like gas nozzle built to prevent you putting the wrong gas in your tank. It has a number of examples in the real world,
   1. In buildings, the elevator doors won't close if someone is in between the doors, won't open when the elevator is moving or the elevator won't move if the weight of the individuals within the elevator exceeds the safe limit.
  2. In manufacturing plants, where device prevents employees from reaching into machines and harming themselves or stop the workers from selecting the wrong part or attaching the part in the wrong location or manner.

5S Visual Management - 5S is one of the first tools to be applied in a company for the continuous improvement culture. 5S implementation helps to define the first rules to eliminate waste, efficient, safe and clean work environment. It is actually an innovative management system that helps people think lean, paving the way for adoption of lean principles in the organization. 5S tools are really useful and effective in the following situations,
* People in your workplace struggle to locate documents or files whether a digital or physical document
 * Are there loose electrical cables in the workplace?
 * Are there files, drawers, and cabinets that are unlabeled or they contain unmarked content that is hard to identify?
 * Is the valuable spaces taken by useless items?
 * Are there papers in the workplace that are not used and gathering dust?
 * Does everybody know how to keep the workplace organized and are fully aware of their roles and responsibility?

5S refers to the set of five terms represent the five steps toward operational and process excellence. Those are,
Sort: Separate required tools, materials, and instructions from those that are not needed. Remove everything that is not necessary from the work area.
Store: Sort and organize all tools and equipment, files, data, resources for easy location and use Label all storage locations, tools, and equipment.
Shine:. Set new standards for cleanliness. Clean and remove all trash, grease, and dirt. Cleanliness provides a safe workplace and makes a potential problem noticeable.
Standardize: Engage the workforce to systematically perform steps 1,2 and 3 above daily. Establish a schedule and set expectations for adherence.
Sustain: Make 5S as part of your culture and incorporate into the corporate philosophy. Build organizational commitment so that 5S becomes one of your organizational values.

Continuous Improvement - It is a method of continuously identifying opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste. It can be implemented as a formal practice or an informal set of guidelines. It has four general steps,
* Identify: Analyzes where your process needs improvement
* Plan: Determine how those areas in your process can be improved
* Execute: Implement your process improvement Plan
* Review:  After a set of time, evaluate how the changes are working for your team
Continuous Improvement relies on open, clear communication and a data-driven mindset across the organization. It requires team members to open about success and failures so that they pinpoint where their processes and products need to improve and deliver value to the customer faster.

Six Thinking Hats - It is an exercise in parallel thinking and it is a way of approaching the problem from different points of view at the same time. Even everyone came from the same process area and shared the same point of view, the conversation can be disjointed. One person explains the facts, another person is thinking about the benefits and 3rd person thinking about negative aspects. The six thinking method tries to solve this by making the whole group think of the same part of the problem at the same time using colored hats as a physical, visual cue. Each hat represents the distinct direction of challenging problem like,
   * White Hat - Information - During the white hat discussion, Only the facts are represented
   * Red Hat - Emotions -  In the Red Hat, everyone shares the gut feelings without any justification for them
   * Black Hat - Discernment - Cautious thinking, what could go wrong?
   * Yellow Hat - Optimism - Discuss the benefits
   * Green Hat - Creativity - It is to represent the oddball ideas, with little criticism
    * Blue Hat - Direction - The chairperson wears the blue hat and can direct the discussion into a different mode.
The Six Thinking Hat is a formalized approach to problem-solving. By forcing everyone to focus on one aspect at a time, the group is not moving the different directions or ignoring specific issues.

Heijunka Production Leveling - It is a technique for reducing the Mura(unevenness) which in turn reduces Muda(waste). It is vital to the development of production efficiency in lean manufacturing. The goal is to produce intermediate goods at a constant rate so that further processing can be carried out at a constant and predictable rate. When customer demand fluctuates two approaches have been adopted, 1. Demand Leveling and 2. Production Leveling through flexible production. It is important to minimize fluctuation in the final assembly line.

Theory of Constraints(TOC) - It is a method of increasing throughput by managing constraints or bottlenecks. It explains the impact of profitability from decision making by a supply chain in terms of time. This concept serves as the base of supply chain management and a model that explains the relationship of variables in business as to how cash flow based profitability is affected by decision making.

Little's Law -  It shows that how to do more, doing less by picking the priority project to work on first before moving onto the one of next importance. It helps you to reach your deadline comfortably and efficiently. It can be defined as,   
            Average Lead Time =    Work In Progress / Average Throughput
This lean approach is useful in the marketing department to priority project, while the lower priority has more time to develop and for any requirements to be finalized before to get started.

Single Minute Exchange of Die(SMED) Quick Changeover - The popular approach to battle the waste is to streamline changeovers. Changing machines from one setup to another is often time-consuming exercise. Hence the lean manufacturing reducing the changeover times is a well-known method for improving the efficiency.
    For any improvement project, the first question to ask yourself is " Is this the biggest problem right now?" when you have decided to which problem to address, then you should look for the solutions. After finding the problems, prioritizing them, and looks for possible solutions then you should do the SMED workshop. There are six fundamental steps to SMED,
1. Measure the Changeover Time - Depending on the duration and changeovers, you may able to watch different number.
2. Identify the Internal and External Elements - Check the changeover steps have to be done while the machine is stopped and what can be done while the machine is still running.
3. Move as many Elements as possible to External - It means converting internal steps to external and ensuring the external steps to be done before or after the process interruption.
4. Shorten Internal Elements - After moving the external steps, then shorten the internal steps. Also, check the procedure can be simplified and better tools are available.
5. Shorten External Elements - Check if we can shorten the external elements. This will not reduce the stoppage of the process, but it will reduce the overall time of the changeover.
6. Standardize and Maintain New Procedures - The last step is to do the changeover quickly every time. So, you need to define the new standard, document it and train the workers and do the process confirmation.

Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) - It is a risk management tool that identifies and quantifies the influence of potential failures in a process. It analyses the potential failure in 3 criteria,
 1. Occurrence(Failure cause & frequency)
 2. Severity (Impact of the failure)
 3. Detection (likelihood of failure detection)
Once assessed and prioritized the failures that can be addressed with mistake proofing for preventable failures and contingency plan for unpreventable risks.

DMAIC -  It is an abbreviation of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. People consider the DMAIC to be the most important tool in six sigma methodology. It is an Improvement cycle that helps the organization to improve, optimize and stabilizes their processes that roadmap the resolution of business problems.

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