By Jeff Reichert, President, SafeRack
Are you getting the most from your Lean and Kaizen events?
What do you consider “waste” in your facility or plant? Excess energy or water? A worker who isn’t busy throughout the day? According to the Lean approach, it’s more than that. Anything that isn’t an action or process that your customer would be willing to pay for is waste. That means extra products sitting on inventory shelves are considered waste. So are extra steps taken to go get more tooling or parts. The Lean approach is about emphasizing what’s adding value — and reducing or eliminating everything else.
Today, nearly all manufacturing plants have implemented some level of Lean activities into their facility on a regular basis. ErectaStep, and the customers with whom we work, are no different. These Lean methods are systematic disciplines for reducing waste and converting those resources into productive utilization. ErectaStep products and solutions eliminate waste, are fast to deploy, and are ultimately safe.
Many companies have created dedicated teams to focus on non-value-added (NVA) work versus value-add (VA) work. These teams analyze the two and then figure out how to convert the NVA (or wasted) time and effort into VA productive throughput.
Steps to a Leaner Workplace
One powerful tool used in the Lean process is the weeklong Kaizen event. Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement in a work culture. It was originally introduced to the West in 1986 by Masaaki Imai in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success.
In a Kaizen event, a small cross-functional team from within a company comes together for a relatively short period of time (usually one week) to make fast improvements with lasting impact. Kaizen events typically take on a narrow area of focus, with the objective of fast implementation and learning.
Events may focus on one of the following areas:
- The 5S (Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain) Kaizen Program
- The TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) Kaizen Program
- Setup Reduction Kaizen, or the Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED)
- Value Stream Mapping, or Flow Kaizen
- Supply Chain Kaizen
These weeklong Kaizen events are usually focused on the shop floor environment, but may also be launched in office process environments. A typical schedule for the week may go as follows:
- Day 1: Training, data gathering and analysis
- Day 2: Analysis and modeling
- Day/Night 3: Changing of floor layout
- Day 4: Layout refinement, standardized instructions
- Day 5: Refinement, presentation to management, group pizza dinner
Per the schedule, it is around midweek when the planning and flowcharts become real, and the physical environment is remodeled. In nearly every case, the work area is torn down and rebuilt quickly and effectively. Maintenance crews often work around the clock to deploy the new throughput solution, focused completely on eliminating the NVA activities.
During and after the transformation process, it’s critical to enhance and maintain safety. Teams must at all times ensure safe, compliant access to and around machines, conveyors, fork-truck paths and other obstructions. This can be quite challenging per the blitz schedule, with the team working to implement solutions within 24 to 36 hours.
Implementation Made Easy
ErectaStep crossover stairs and platform systems can greatly help secure the success of the Kaizen week. Because the product is pre-engineered, OSHA-compliant and in stock, the Kaizen team can focus on their business-specific issues for the week rather than designing and building new work platforms and crossovers to get over obstructions and other safety issues.
On Day 2, for example, if the team decides they need to access a hard-to-reach area during Day 3’s remodeling, they can order the ErectaStep crossover system and have it delivered the next day. For the Kaizen professionals, coaches and team leaders involved in the event, Days 3 and 4 instantly become less stressful and more productive.
ErectaStep solutions are always in stock, ready to ship, and easy to install and implement. One of our sales professionals can walk you through an iPad configuration that meets your team’s exact and immediate needs. Our system also comes complete with layout drawings and foot/pad locations for the maintenance team.
When it comes to these Kaizen week events, time is of the essence — as is increasing productivity and enhancing ergonomics. These are all factors that ErectaStep can help with.
The next time you’re scheduling or preparing for a Kaizen event, keep ErectaStep in your back pocket. It can turn the NVA engineering and construction of platforms, crossovers and stairs into a Value-Added process of deploying the best-in-class solution for your team. Not only will it help you focus on that area for improvement, it also increases the chance of completing that week’s focus area and moving on to next week’s area for improvement.
Add ErectaStep to your Kaizen toolkit. Contact us to learn more.