10 Keys for an Effective Lean Operation

David McDonald

In my opinion and experience, there are 10 components or keys for an effective lean operation. These include:

1. Safety is not a slogan. It is acted upon and driven similar to quality and other key metrics.

2. Productivity is improving 10 percent or more per year, quality metrics are improving at 25 percent or more per year, and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) measurements are utilized for continuous line improvements.

3. Visual controls are in place to help measure managing daily improvement (MDI). These would include things such as:

• Quality cost delivery and service (QCDS) boards are in place and acted on daily.
• Associates meet every day to review the previous day and current day.
• Statistical process control (SPC) tracking is in place on key processes.
• Andon lights and abnormality response systems are in place.

4. Housekeeping is continuously improving, making sure there is a place for everything and ensuring everything is in its place with no useless clutter. Shadow boards are being used, and lines are painted on the floor for safety and as a prerequisite for standard work.

5. Kaizen methodologies, the process of continuous process improvements, are linked to strategic objectives. Kaizen events are executed monthly to drive performance. Associates are involved and challenged. Resources are dedicated, and the company is utilizing a strong continuous improvement office.

6. Raw and in-process inventories, which are the amount of materials the plant needs for orders within five days, are moving toward a build-to-order focus. In short, you are building only what you need to fill daily orders. Create the flexibility to create any product, any day.

7. Production schedule compliance, which is meeting the production schedule as planned, is at 95 percent or greater, and the customer service index (CSI), which measures if orders are complete and on time, is at 90 percent or greater.

8. Associates are provided at least 20 hours or more per year of off-the-floor or classroom training.

9. A production process is established for daily, weekly and monthly accountability. For example, this would include:

• Daily meetings to review the schedule, quality, cost and inventory
• Weekly financial accountability meetings
• Monthly scorecard reviews
• Quarterly reviews

10. The plant is always moving toward the next record in safety, productivity, quality and inventory levels. Associates are excited about creating a positive environment where people hold themselves accountable.

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