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May 1, 2012

Avoiding Conflict at Your Workplace

By Charaee May 1, 2012

Workplace Violence, Any Time – Any Where

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.  It can affect and involved employees, clients, customers and visitors. Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.

There are four recognized types of workplace violence.  They include:

  1. An employee involved with a criminal outsider (e.g. robbery)
  • Assailant has no business relationship to workplace
  • Motive is to commit robbery or other criminal act
  • Accounts for most of fatalities from workplace violence
  1. An employee involved with a client (e.g. customer, student, patient)
  • Assailants can be current or former customers or clients such as passengers, patients, students, inmates, criminal suspects or prisoners
  • The workers attacked typically provide direct services to the public

In some industries, violence by customers or clients occurs on a daily basis, especially verbal threats

  1. Assailant has employment-related involvement
  • Current or former employee or manager
  • An employee involved with a co-worker
  1. An employee involved with a spouse or other significant relationship
  • Assailant confronts a worker, at the worksite, with whom they have a personal relationship outside of work.
  • Personal relations include:
    • Current or former spouse
    • Lover
    • Friend
    • Relative
    • Acquaintance

Companies should take it upon themselves to:

1. Develop a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy

    • A policy should carefully define what workplace violence is, and should be written to complement any existing policies that deal with assistance programs. The policy should also let employees know what help is available from the employer.

    2. Train Employees

      • Procedures need to be developed to respond to situations in which violence erupts in the workplace. Employees should be trained on what specifically they should do when they spot it. Emphasis should be placed on how coworkers or close friends may assist in detecting potential violence. In addition, training should be given to managers and supervisors, human resources personnel and company security. The policy and procedures need to be communicated to all employees, with their specific reporting protocol.

      A number of different actions in the work environment can trigger or cause workplace violence. It may even be the result of non-work-related situations such as domestic violence or “road rage.” Workplace violence can be inflicted by an abusive employee, a manager, supervisor, co-worker, customer, family member, or even a stranger.

      Whatever the cause or whoever the perpetrator, workplace violence is not to be accepted or tolerated.

      April 24, 2012

      TWI Job Relations Session 1

      By Pat Boutier April 24, 2012

      Management Culture or Cultural Engineering & TWI Job Relations Blog

      Please read and answer the two questions below:

      Why do managers think they don’t need to learn how to deal with employees?

      Do any of the numbered items below ring through with yourself, or with managers you have observed?

      1)”Basically if a manager has treated one personnel problem successfully, he thinks everyone should be able to handle it too.”

      2) “Everyone has had a tremendous amount of personnel training, they should know how to deal with people problems.”

      3)  “I just wish they would all grow up and behave.”

      4) “We don’t have any real personnel problems, everyone is happy to have a job.”

      5) “Management doesn’t have it on their priority list.”

      A- Myself: please select one or more of the numbered responses, 1-5:

      B- My management: please select one or more of the numbered responses, 1-5

      April 17, 2012

      LSS and the Business Process

      By ayanez April 17, 2012

      Most industries or service provider’s organizations think that the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) methodology should be tailored to their particular processes, culture or company idiosyncrasies.  The fact is that LSS is rather universal and can be applied to manufacturing industries that may include: high volume with low number of parts offered, high number of parts with low volume, chemical continuous processes, paper mills, insurance companies, Information Technology, banking industries and most recently to the healthcare industry.

      Even pure manufacturing companies have many business processes that, in many cases, are the constraint operation. These business processes may include: purchasing, accounts payable/receivables, accounting, human resources, IT, etc.  The fallacy is thinking that the only processes that need improvement are those related with manufacturing and thinking that business processes have little or no impact in improving quality, reducing lead time, lowering the cost or eliminating waste.  I have experienced that business processes can have a much bigger impact on reducing cost or lead time than manufacturing processes.

      I am a LSS instructor for Green and Black Belt and, one of the requirements for the GB/BB to get certified, is for the students to submit completed projects for certification.  In addition I provide coaching to GB or BB to assess that the projects follow the Define, Measure, Analyze Improve and Control (DMAIC) methodology.  While comparing manufacturing or business completed projects side by side, I have noticed that the projects are a mirror image and it is hard to differentiate them apart.  Granted, certain LSS tools need to be modified to accommodate a particular industry or process.  The main causes in a Fishbone diagram will be different between a business and manufacturing process and the same can be said about completing a Value Stream Map.

      My recommendation is to not overlook business process.

      April 10, 2012

      GE and Lean Innovation

      By Esteban Pedraza April 10, 2012

      The opening of GE’s new GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Water Heater plant in Kentucky isn’t just a great endorsement for American Manufacturing but an affirmation of Lean’s ability to help improve a company’s competitive edge in today’s global marketplace. The events that have taken place at GE and GE’s Appliance Park in Louisville read like a case study straight out of a Lean handbook.

      In the 1980s America was in an industrial decline and when the GE facility could no longer compete with production costs in Asia, for reasons such as an increase in wages and a decrease in the selling price of products, GE began moving production to the Asian plants. As expected GE was able to reduce labor cost and save on materials, but over time the cost savings from outsourcing was outweighed by the negative impact on GE’s competitiveness. The following examples are just a few problems GE encountered:

      • A longer and more complex supply chain emerged; this slowed the information feedback loop and impaired the company’s ability to respond to problems and customer needs in a timely manner.
      • Cycle time was affected.
      • GE had to carry more inventory in the U.S. for products made in China.
      • A lack of communication due to functional departmentalization led to some loss of overall product knowledge (core competencies) by employees.

      What did GE do to address these problems? They invested millions of dollars in Appliance Park.   In addition to the problems brought on by outsourcing, two major events helped initiate the investment. The first was the availability of job-creation incentives from the state and federal governments and the second was a competitive labor costs as a result of the 2009 Competitive Wage Agreement between GE and IUE-CWA Local 761. But according to GE the company had not invested in Appliance Park because the culture “wasn’t right to invest”. How did GE address the culture problem? They embarked on a lean initiative that “maximizes customer value while minimizing waste and identifies employees as the most valuable resource a company has”, said a GE spokesperson.

      GE’s upper management is showing their commitment to changing the company’s manufacturing culture by investing not just in the building with a multimillion dollar renovation but in their people. Investment in the people has been done through lean training and employee empowerment. The empowerment has removed barriers that would keep any employee from taking positive action that would lead to better quality and/or performance.  According to GE’s Appliance Lean Leaders and employees, the way of thinking and the way things are done at Appliance Park have changed:

      • Everyone is involved in the manufacturing process setup from Engineering to sourcing to production. (cross functional approach)
      • We focus on removing non-value added work from the design process through production
      • One team with one goal mindset
      • Communication is essential (information boards, visual tools, etc.)
      • Everything is built around supporting the operator getting the product out the door
      • Focused on greater customer satisfaction
      • Renewed emphasis on quality and technology
      • We Learn by doing and leverage the power of collaboration
      • Operators take pride in what they do

      Using lean practices and tools, GE has reported cutting cycle time by 50%, eliminated 20% of the parts included in the GeoSpring final assembly, and reduced equipment investment by 30%.  GE’s lean journey is demonstrating that Global competitiveness can be accomplished when the right tools are used in the right way.

      According to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), labor cost in China have risen dramatically and shipping and fuel costs have skyrocketed, this means China is not as cheap as it used to be and the United States is poised to bring back jobs from China. The report also points out that by 2015, it will only be about 10% cheaper to manufacture in China. If the BCG report is correct then the question for the United States will not be what company’s want the jobs but what companies have the capability (structure and culture) to compete in a global market.

      With the freedom that a consumer has, in today’s global market, to go almost anyplace for a product that meets their quality and price requirements companies must be agile enough to meet consumers changing needs. As GE is showing us, the place can be the United States and the way to get it done can be through American Manufacturing.

      March 13, 2012

      Uncovering the Hidden Factory through SMED

      By Rodney Reddic March 13, 2012

      Is time on your side?

      Too often, companies are quick to implement new equipment in order to meet increased customer demand for products, without maximizing the utilization of their current equipment.  Equipment changeover time is one area of the business that is often ignored and companies accept long changeover as a part of doing business.  The changeover time of equipment can be a Hidden Factory just waiting to be uncovered.  It is very common for equipment changeover from one product to the next product, to take a couple hours for completion.  Companies often make several product changeovers per week, consuming hours of potential production time.  If we could somehow reduce the changeover time from hours to minutes, we could have a dramatic effect on providing additional production capacity.  This is what Dr. Shigeo Shingo discovered while helping to develop the Toyota Production System.  Dr. Shingo terms his discovery SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies), and it prescribe that changeover time should be less than ten minutes for a given product.

      What does SMED Involve?

      Companies can systematically reduce changeover time on their equipment by following a simply four step method.

      1. Document the current changeover process and break the process into elemental steps.  This is typically done through the shooting of a changeover video of the process and reviewing the video to document the steps and times associated with each step.  The steps are also classified as internal (Step occurs while the equipment is not running) or external (Step occurs while the equipment is running and producing product).
      2. Review each process step: Is it necessary or can it be eliminated.  During the review, ideas are generated on how to convert internal steps to external steps.  Internal steps in the changeover process are the driving factor for the overall changeover time on the equipment.   Thus, reducing the internal steps has a dramatic effect on the overall changeover time for the equipment.
      3. Re-examine the remaining internal steps with the goal of (Streamlining, Combining or Eliminating) the steps.   Often steps can be performed in parallel with the addition of Assist Operator during the equipment changeover.  Working as a team and performing parallel operations can have a dramatic effect on reducing the time on the equipment changeover.
      4. Focus on eliminating adjustments for the remaining internal setup steps.  In this step, the reliance on “Tribal Knowledge” is significantly reduced or eliminated through the development of hard settings for the equipment.  Often the equipment is updated with scales, gauges, and visual controls that can be used to establish initial settings for running a particular product on the equipment.  By establishing initial settings based on past production runs, the trial and error time at start-up can be significantly reduce and the equipment can produce good product much faster.

      SMED Four Step Process
      Finally, after completing the SMED four-step process a new changeover standard can be developed using the remaining internal and external steps.   The new changeover standard should prescribe the changeover sequence and operators required to complete the changeover on the equipment.

      For most companies that have not participated in any formal changeover reduction process on their equipment, applying the SMED approach typically reduces the changeover time by 50% when first applied.  By continuing to work as a team, planning changeovers, practicing, being innovative and standardizing changeover methods equipment changeover times can continue to be reduced.   Companies should strive to achieve the goal of single-minute changeover times and recapture the loss capacity due to long changeover times.

      • Planning
      • Practice
      • Innovation
      • Standardization
      • Continuous Improvement

      February 14, 2012

      Overall equipment effectiveness key to TPM success

      By Rodney Reddic February 14, 2012
      Bottles coming out of the manufacturing process

      Image by D W S via Flickr

      In today’s manufacturing arena equipment reliability is paramount, thus we are seeing more and more companies trying to implement Total Productivity Manufacturing (TPM).   TPM is not a program that can be implemented over night and takes commitment at all levels of the organization to be successful.  One major indicator of a successful TPM program is Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).  This OEE number can be challenging to obtain for most companies and involves six major areas of equipment losses:  Setups and Adjustments, Breakdowns, Idling and Minor Stoppages, Start-ups, running at Reduce Speed, Defects and Rework.

      Continue reading “Overall equipment effectiveness key to TPM success” »

      February 2, 2012

      Coaching To Accelerate Improvement Projects

      By ayanez February 2, 2012

      There are several elements that can affect the time to complete an Improvement Project (IP). The following is a partial list than can influence the time to finish a project:

      • Project selection that is relevant and linked to corporate goals
      • Type of project (e.g., Kaizen, Lean, Six Sigma or Design for Lean Six Sigma (DFLSS))
      • Scope of project
      • Project financial impact
      • Ease of implementation
      • Roles & Responsibilities of Stakeholders
      • Project sponsor support or engagement
      • Training
      • Coaching Green (GB) or Black Belts (BB) candidates
      Coach Fitz

      Image via Flickr

      As GB/BB concludes their training, they are assigned an IP that they would facilitate and take to fruition. Some belts think that Lean Six-Sigma (LSS) is about using as many tools as possible for each phase of the DMAIC methodology. This is where the coach can provide feedback on what tools make sense to use and provide a direction on the next steps.

      The coach can also lead the facilitations of the first kaizen events and have the belts participate on the event, and learn from it, so that they can lead such event.

      The coach does not need to be an expert on the process but needs to have a vast experience on the DMAIC or DFLSS methodology. The coaching sessions should not be prescriptive, meaning guiding the belt step by step, but rather should be treated like a sounding board where the belt can bounce ideas.

      Coaching should take place on a biweekly basis and should last for about one hour. The coaching is more efficient if the belt provide information before each coaching session.

      The bottom line is not to overlook coaching sessions.

      Do you use coaching in your company? Have you seen a difference in the impact of project completed?

      January 17, 2012

      Top 10 reasons to attend the 2012 Texas Manufacturers Summit

      By Jennifer Wilson January 17, 2012

      Manufacturing is an exceedingly important industry sector in our state – maintaining our strength is a key economic driver. We’ve rewritten the rules regarding ROI on conferences. Gone are the days when you spent three days out of the office only to return with fragments of useful information. Join us this coming February for an informative day of learning that impacts every facet of your business!

      1. Competitive advantage. You need to figure out how to evolve your business and this Summit is an important gathering for people like you – people figuring out how to make their business succeed in challenging times.
      2. See all the best tools in one place. You will meet with established leaders, Texas resources and creative innovators to find the right tools and technologies to take your business to the next level.
      3. Real-world solutions to your real-world problems. Summit sessions and keynote presentations are designed to highlight how forward-thinking users are accessing current and new technologies to drive change in their organizations.
      4. Stay ahead of the curve. Leaders who understand how to be collaborative, flexible and transparent will be the most sought-after employers.
      5. Topnotch Keynote Speakers. Dr. F. Barry Lawrence, Director, Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University System; Representative Joe Straus, Speaker of the House and Mr. Richard Fisher, President & Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
      6. Breakout Sessions. Three tracks: Mix and match or stick with one track all day! Choose from informative tracks on Policy & Regulatory Issues, The Business of Manufacturing, and Innovation & Growth during four sessions.
      7. Case studies from experts detailing practical advice and best practices for all manufacturers, large, medium and small.
      8. Meet & Greet. Network with fellow senior-level manufacturers and manufacturing support organizations in an interactive environment throughout the Summit.
      9. Exhibitors. Visit Summit exhibitors for a taste of the latest and greatest resources and technologies to support your manufacturing operations.
      10. We’ll be there – of course! TMAC is a proud sponsor of this important inaugural event. Join us for the Welcome Reception on February 14th and stop by our booth and breakout sessions during the Summit on the 15th. But don’t wait! Registration ends soon!

      Planning on attending? Use #txmfgsummit2012 on Twitter and share the event on LinkedIn and Facebook.

      December 8, 2011

      How do you move a barn?

      By Mark Sessumes December 8, 2011

      Furthermore, what does moving a barn (click link for video) have to do with Lean?

      Moving the barn

      Moving the barn

      • Moving the barn is like moving an organization.
      • There’s a BIG difference between the tools and the ability to develop the various working parts to be successful.
      • There were tools involved – saws, rulers, welding equipment, hammers.  But that’s not the key to success.
      • Many different roles with different responsibilities.
        • Someone in leadership had a vision and compelling need.  They had to know where they were and where they wanted to go.
        • Leadership recognized the value of ‘people power’ , not simply cutting edge technology.  No cranes or trucks involved but there was innovation (or at least ingenuity).
        • Leadership created a plan with many parts – preparation, communication, coordination, schedules, execution, etc.
          • Someone had to build the hand rails.
          • Someone had to recruit the people.
          • Given the caps, overalls, and cowboy hats, I bet there was barbeque involved.  Someone had to prepare it.
          • Someone had to announce instructions using the bullhorn.
          • Someone had to run the video camera.
        • There were measures.  Someone calculated the weight of the barn and the number of people to know each had to lift their 90lbs.  They knew how many feet to arrive at the destination.
        • The announcer was coordinating the actions of the group.  He was also giving them recognition and encouragement.
        • People had to show up and participate.

      TMAC’s emphasis in Lean deployment is the ability to identify and prepare the different roles to fulfill their respective responsibilities to move the organization along the journey to achieve the vision.  Tools are integral to the journey but in themselves are insufficient.  Working in ‘the white space’ beyond the punctuated activities related to training, events, and projects requires that we develop each role to fulfill their responsibilities.

      • Top Leadership – focus, inspire, and engage the organization.  From strategy development/planning to management systems to measurements, recognition/rewards, communication, etc.
      • Value Stream Managers – transform the value stream.  Create and implement the VS management system (not just a map), and actively manage the transformation to the future state across multiple improvement activities.
      • Supervision – change behaviors.  Designing new methods and creating a sum of daily habits conforming to the new methods are two different things.  Supervision focus on changing behaviors including but not limited to safety, standardization, simplification, scientific method, social responsibility, and self-discipline.  There are multitudes of mechanisms to accomplish each.  What do you use?
      • Workforce – participate.  Either in structured projects or equally importantly, outside of formal projects/events.  Getting them to show up, mentally, physically.
      • Coaches – guide and mentor the other roles.  Are you prepared to guide top leadership?  Do you know what they should do?

      What are you doing to work in the white space?

      December 6, 2011

      But we have to…

      By raikman December 6, 2011

      Some Lean practitioners have promoted the use of a third type of value-add: Non-Value-Add Required (NVAR).

      Value-Add Ratio

      Also known as Business Non-value Add, these activities are those that must be performed for legal or regulatory requirements.  Another consideration is whether the process would fail altogether if the process step were eliminated.  It is important to keep in mind that these activities are still a form of Non-Value Add.  So the goal from a Lean practitioner standpoint for NVAR activities is to minimize or (if possible) to eliminate these process steps.

      A Fundamental Lean Measure: Process Cycle Efficiency

      Once you have agreed on the definition of CVA a key measure to understand for any Lean practitioner is the Process Cycle Efficiency (PCE – also called value-add ratio).  This is simply the ratio of the total customer value add time for a single item (or transaction) divided by the total process lead time to deliver the product (or service).  This is the key performance measure of any process.

      A number of Lean writers estimate that a typical process has a PCE of 5% or less.  In other words, 95% of the time required to move a product (or information) from start to finish are due to non-value add activities.  Common examples of such activities include waiting, performing rework, reviewing information, dealing with defects / errors / mistakes, moving items, and watching.

      Past research for a variety of types of business processes resulted in the following figures for a typical PCE, and ‘world class’ PCE (George Group, 2004):

      Type of Process Typical PCE World Class PCE
      Machining 1% 20%
      Fabrication 10% 25%

      (Batch Transfer)

      15% 35%
      Continuous Process/ Assembly

      (Continuous /One Piece Flow)

      30% 80%
      Business Processes


      10% 50%
      Business Processes


      5% 25%

      My own experience is that the values in the table above for ‘typical’ processes are somewhat generous.  That is, the values are too high.  I have seen PCE values well below 1% for many processes.  In short, while the practice of determining the PCE for any process is an important one, it can also be very humbling.

      The Challenge of Defining Value

      As noted previously, both new and experienced Lean practitioners sometimes struggle with defining value.  I hope the guidelines covered in Parts 1 and 2 of this blog will help to make this task a little easier.  But even if you still find it challenging, I would suggest that the time spent discussing, debating, and arguing over how to categorize each process step in terms of CVA is exactly the sort of thing you should be doing as a lean practitioner.  Working through this categorization is fundamental to developing Lean thinking, and hence is always worth the extra time required.

      Finally, from a Lean practitioner standpoint you should always keep in mind the following rule of thumb when working on various types of activities:

      • Customer Value-Add : Optimize
      • Non-Value-Add Required: Minimize
      • Non-Value Add : Eliminate
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