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The Lean Benchmark Report

operations and eliminating waste. VSM should be a collaborative process regardless of whether it is managed on a brown paper bag and/or with Post-it notes, or using an auto- mated process modeling tools. The goal is to identify value in the eye of the customer and eliminate all non value-added activities.

Tyson Foods is a best-in-class company that fully embraced and has benefited from its VSM activities. As part of its Perfect Order Strategy, Tyson modeled its 19 major process flows and the tasks and activities that supported them on a weekly basis. Cross-functional teams worked through each process, beginning with the customer and working back into operations. In the end, 103,000 steps were brought down to 30,000.

Line/Workcell Manufacturing

Cellular manufacturing typically comprises a small group of operators performing all the work necessary to make a part, component, or assembly; the place where they work is called a workcell. Workcells also have machines and workstations located either next to or in very close proximity to each other, as opposed to the more traditional departmental organization by type of machine. The stations might be linked by hand conveyors, chutes, or small carts; in some cases, everything is done manually while in others, ma- chines do the value-added work, either with or without operator support.


Based on the Japanese word for card, Kanban is a tool and methodology that supports pull-scheduling (single piece or fixed quantity containers) via traveling instructions con- veyed by simple visual devices (e.g., cards, balls, carts, containers). Kanban pull chains communicate pull signals up and out from the factory floor, across a series of cus- tomer/supplier relationships; this should enable seamless relationships along the value stream, across organizational, trading partner, and information system boundaries. This survey confirmed that three times more best-in-class companies are using Kanban sys- tems than the industry average companies. Benefits of Kanban include building quality into the process, creating flexibility, creating higher productivity, freeing up floor space, improving safety, improving morale, and reducing the cost of inventory.

Identification of Improvement Opportunities

Kaizen is the philosophy of continuous looking for improvement opportunities; both Becton Dickenson and Rockwell were cited previously in this report for the progress they are making with their metrics-driven idea management programs. Target processes should be continuously evaluated and improved in terms of time, resources, quality, or any other aspects relevant to the process. Lean events such as product flow, inventory reductions, and quality are often visible and good candidates for possible improvement. About one third of industry average companies have Kaizen teams in place versus 67% of the best-in-class and 13% of laggards.

Education Lean Methodology

Most companies embarking on Lean have committed to some degree of formalized edu- cation. Smaller organizations hire external trainers and consultants to host workshops, others manage “train the trainer” programs to promulgate Lean concepts; and best-in- class have more formal and often global programs. For instance, Rockwell Automation

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