Continuous Improvement

The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects – Motion

Manuficient - Motion [Katrina]

Motion – any movement that takes time and / or effort that does not directly add value. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine case studies for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Motion to understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it.

Jump to:

The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:

 

Defects | Overproduction | Waiting | Non-utilized Talent & Ideas | Transportation | Inventory | MotionExcessive Processing

Case Study:

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina broke the levees in New Orleans’ lower 9th ward, resulting in catastrophic flooding. Despite the desperate and obvious need for relief, local, state, and federal emergency response agencies failed to supply sufficient aide with any level of urgency. Officials deliberated, stalled, and wasted critical time deciding when, how, and rather or not to respond. An estimated 1,836 lives and $108 Billion were lost due to the flooding. It’s difficult to quantify exactly how much of this loss can be attributed to the poor emergency response; but we can all agree that the amount of time and effort wasted prior to providing aide was a complete disaster in itself.

Corrective Action:

During the event, aide, although debatably insufficient, began to arrive for some affected by the flood. Many people have fled the northern gulf coast to cities like Houston, Nashville, and others around the US – never to return home. Programs to help Katrina victims to resettle elsewhere sprang up around the United States. After Katrina, FEMA was granted authority and tools to respond to crisis more urgently, including the Post-Katrina Emergency Response Act (PKERA). This new system was tested a few years later during Hurricane Sandy and the results were markedly improved.

Interesting Fact:

All major studies concluded that the US Army Core of Engineers (USACE) were primarily responsible for the failing levees. However, they were granted immunity under the Flood Control Act of 1928. The USACE cited budgetary constraints for installing the insufficient levee system. This is one case where saving perhaps a few million dollars ending up costing thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in the end.

For more details on this case study, check out the Wikipedia article at the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina

Motion waste occurs in abundance in just about any manufacturing or supply chain operation. Anything from reaching across a table to grab the next unit to shuffling pallets in the warehouse to get everything to fit can be considered motion waste. It is nearly impossible to eliminate all motion waste but it can definitely be reduced greatly. Reducing motion waste reduces process cycle times resulting in an increase in throughput. The best way to measure motion waste is the perform a detailed breakdown of the work needed to execute a process called a Time & Motion Study. In this case, the more granular, the better. For example, a time & motion study output might look like this:

Manuficient - Motion Waste Chart

Copyright 2016 Manuficient Consulting

 

Observe how over 30% of the time spent processing this unit was wasted motion. This type of waste can be reduced by identifying the waste from time & motion studies on critical process steps and optimizing workstation design to increase efficiency. This method allows you to optimize for efficiency within a process step at a very technical and granular level; but can yield tremendous cost and lead time savings if you can increase throughput at the bottleneck step by 30%.

The Factory Operating System (fOS) at factoryoperatingsystem.com also helps you see motion waste. Motion waste reduces throughput, increases operating costs, and lengthens lead times. The fOS helps to motivate employees to reduce motion waste by highlighting achievements such as Raising the Bar (outperforming the previous standard). When motion waste is reduced, it can lead to the previously established standard being exceeded, at which time best-practices and operator recognition is distributed across your manufacturing network. This helps others to make progress toward creating breakthroughs in performance as well.

A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you to improve the detection and elimination of motion waste, resulting in significant cost savings and lead time reduction for your operation.

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects – Inventory

Inventory – any materials or other resources stored or staged until demanded. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine case studies for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Inventory to understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it. Lean.org defines inventory as “materials (and information) present along a value stream between processing steps.”

Jump to:

The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:

Defects | Overproduction | Waiting | Non-utilized Talent & Ideas | Transportation | Inventory | MotionExcessive Processing

Case Study:

In 2007, Toyota issued a massive recall that affected 9 Billion vehicles worldwide. The recall was triggered by several reports of gas pedals “sticking” and causing unintended acceleration. At the time of the incident, dealerships across the US were holding substantial amounts of inventory, which could not be sold until they were all serviced to minimize the risk of further unintended acceleration issues. A study was conducted to estimate the losses associated with all of this inventory that was placed on “hold”, which revealed that dealerships were losing the staggering amount of $2.5 Billion per month in combined income.

Corrective Action:

In response to this issue, Toyota conducted an investigation to identify the root cause of the unintended acceleration and concluded that the configuration between the floor mat and the gas pedal was defective. They also began to experiment with an alternative supply chain model with the Toyota Scion where a base unit would be built to about 70% at the factory, then buyers would be allowed to customize how the vehicle would be finished. Finally, the base unit would be shipped to the buyer’s local dealer to complete the final manufacturing steps; a process known as Late-Stage Customization. This kept inventory low for the Scion at the dealerships and allowed consumers more control over the features and functionality that would be included with their vehicle. Unfortunately, the Scion did not perform well in the market; however, I don’t think the supply chain model was the problem. It simply isn’t a very good looking car.

Interesting Fact:

Even though Toyota distributes vehicles all over the world, the only reports of unintended acceleration came from the United States. Also, there was never a definitive conclusion for a mechanical failure that was causing the problem. However, once the floor mat / gas pedal configuration was changed, no further issues were reported.

For more details on this case study, check out the 24/7 Wall Street article at the following link:

http://247wallst.com/autos/2010/01/29/toyota-dealers-face-2-5-billion-monthly-loss/

This case study exposes one of the many major problems with building and carrying inventory. Building inventory has the same issue issue as batching, which is a form of inventory in itself. When there is a quality defect that needs to be contained, many times the entire batch needs to be recalled and investigated due to limited granularity in traceability.  This requires the manufacturer to cast a wide net instead of being able to pinpoint the specific units that are affected by the defect.

Another major issue with carrying inventory is that it enables poor manufacturing execution and erodes operational discipline. Part of the equation for determining how much inventory you need is how unreliably your factory performs. In other words, being unreliable means you need to maintain higher inventories to meet service expectations. The path of least resistance is to build inventory as opposed to addressing your factory’s reliability issues. A little trick to kicking off a lean implementation is to cut your finished inventory gradually and challenge your teams to maintain service levels with lower inventory stocks. This will require improving factory reliability and becoming more lean in the process. Finally, inventory hurts your factory’s lead time on special order and rush items. This is because orders often need to wait in inventory buffers in between process steps before the next value-added step can be completed.

The Factory Operating System (fOS) at factoryoperatingsystem.com also helps you see waste from inventory, which often manifests itself in the form of unreliability. In the fOS, unreliability shows up as downtime, rate, and yield losses. By addressing these issues, you can increase plant reliability and subsequently reduce safety stocks. When inventory is reduced, working capital is freed up to be invested in other more important matters. The fOS also allows you to quickly estimate the savings to be gained in just one click by driving out efficiency losses. This powerful functionality is made available to everyone from the shop-floor up to be used for justifying continuous improvement ideas.

A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you to improve the detection and elimination of inventory waste, resulting in significant cost savings, lead time reduction, and quality improvement for your operation.

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects – Transporting

A worker operates a forklift to transport floor boards at a wood flooring factory in Huzhou

A worker operates a forklift to transport floor boards at a wood flooring factory in Huzhou, Zhejiang province July 13, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Yong

Transporting – the act of moving people, materials, or information from one place to another. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine case studies for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Transporting to understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it.

Jump to:

The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:

Defects | Overproduction | Waiting | Non-utilized Talent & Ideas | Transportation | Inventory | MotionExcessive Processing

Study:

Based on data from the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS), the US national average time for an ambulance to arrive after an emergency call has been placed is 9.4 minutes. Just to level-set, the gold standard for ambulance arrival time is 8 minutes within 90% of the time. The data suggests that, on average, ambulances arrive 1.4 minutes late for an emergency call.

Additionally, the time to transport a patient back to the hospital to receive full treatment averaged 12.2 minutes in the dataset. This means that the time between the emergency call and the patient arriving at the hospital averaged almost 22 minutes in total.

Manuficient - Ambulance Arrival Time Data

Copyright 2016 Manuficient Consulting

 

Interesting Fact:

The chances of surviving cardiac arrest diminishes greatly after 5 or 6 minutes of waiting time. How many deaths or serious complications could be prevented if we could design an emergency medical system with an overall response time of less than 5 minutes?

For more information on this data, visit the NEMSIS at:

http://www.nedarc.org/

 

Transporting waste is abundant in just about any manufacturing or supply chain system. Since, for all practical purposes, multiple objects cannot occupy the same space at a time, transporting is an inevitable condition in the way we live, work, and play. One of the challenges to reducing transporting waste is that most methods of measuring productivity fail to highlight its existence. It’s important to measure delivery lead time from step to step within the factory and throughout the supply chain to help identify transporting waste; this also needs to be monitored on a continuous basis. Once you know to look for this type of waste, losses can fairly easily be measured and reduced in manufacturing or supply chain processes. For example, tools such as 5S, line layout, work cell design, and point-of-use supply (POUS) are all great approaches to minimize the waste of transporting within a factory.

The Factory Operating System (fOS) at factoryoperatingsystem.com also helps you see waste from transporting in the form of lost efficiency. In the fOS, this type of waste could either show up as downtime or rate losses. For example, if operators are having to travel across the factory to retrieve parts needed to perform a changeover, this entire time is captured under the planned downtime category. In this case, you might rearrange where items are being stored or staged in order to minimize transport time, changeovers, and efficiency losses due to planned downtime.

A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you to improve the detection and elimination of transporting waste, resulting in significant cost savings and lead time reduction for your operation.

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects – Non-utilized Talent & Ideas

Final Launch of Challenger

The Space Shuttle Challenger lifts off Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 11:38 a.m., EST, January 28, 1986. The entire crew of seven was lost in the explosion 73 seconds into the launch. (AP Photo/NASA)

Non-utilized Talent & Ideas – all talent, ideas, and capabilities that are not effectively applied to facilitate execution. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine case studies for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Non-utilized Talent & Ideas to better understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it. Goleansixsigma.com defines Non-utilized Talent & Ideas as “the concept that employees are not being utilized to their full capability or, conversely that they are engaged in tasks that would be more efficiently done by someone else. Non-Utilized Talent is one of the 8 Wastes which is also known as the waste of intellectual capital.”

Jump to:

The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:

Defects | Overproduction | Waiting | Non-utilized Talent & Ideas | Transportation | Inventory | MotionExcessive Processing

Case Study:

On a particularly cool day in Cape Canaveral, FL in 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger was scheduled to launch. A few days before the launch, the team of the engineers who were working on the mission had advised the program’s management team that launching at 30 degrees would be very risky. The data that they had collected on the wax-based O-ring performance showed that significant integrity was lost under lower temperatures. The management team decided to launch anyway despite the warning of their engineers and the result was catastrophic. 73 seconds into the space shuttle’s flight, the O-rings failed and it exploded in mid-air. The price tag on this disastrous decision was 7 lives (one of which was supposed to be the first teacher in space) and about $1.5B including the flight mission, search and recovery, and the investigation.

NPR recently did a great story on Bob Ebeling, the engineer who came forward (risking his career) and tried to warn NASA of the danger associated with this launch. You can find the podcast at the link below:

NPR Story on Bob Ebeling

Corrective Action:

In response to this tragic incident, NASA re-designed the O-ring joints and implement an astronaut bail-out system in later space shuttle models. Evidence reveals that some of the passengers may have survived the explosion, until the shuttle crashed with the ocean after descent. Thus, lives may have been spared by allowing the astronauts to “bail out” prior to coming in contact with the earth.

Interesting Fact:

After the Challenger explosion, there were several changes put in place to prevent this type of issue from reoccurring. Unfortunately, many of these changes did not sustain in operation. In 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia also exploded soon after launch, ending the lives of 7 more astronauts. The Columbia explosion occurred for reasons that would have been prevented by the changes that were put in place after the Challenger mission. This highlights the importance of operational discipline and ensuring that improvements are sustained.

For more details on this case study, check out the Wikipedia article at the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Challenger_disaster

Non-utilized Talent & Ideas is possibly the most abundant type of waste. It is the only one of the 8 wastes that is not directly a process waste but one of managment or intellectual capital. It is often caused by destructive internal politics and a general lack of respect for people. This type of waste is greatly reduced by practicing a true meritocracy; promoting highly competent people and systematically vetting improvement ideas, regardless of their source. I’ve created and used several great Idea Management and Execution Systems, all of which include regular idea review schedules, rigorous idea vetting, excellent feedback and communication loops, and incentives for submitting or executing improvement projects.

The Factory Operating System (fOS) at factoryoperatingsystem.com also helps you see waste from non-utilized talent & ideas in the form of lost efficiency. In the fOS, this type of waste could either show up as downtime, rate, or yield losses. The great thing about the fOS is that it promotes a culture of getting better everyday by highlighting personal bests, record breaking weeks, raising the bar (outperforming the standard) and other great achievements. This motivates your team to most effectively apply their talent and ideas to drive manufacturing execution.

A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you to improve the detection and elimination of non-utilized talent & ideas waste, resulting in significant cost savings, lead time reduction, and quality improvements for your operation.

fOS Lead Capture2PPM Lead Capture2

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects – Waiting

Manuficient - Waiting [Herseys]

Waiting – time spent idle or unproductive until parts, materials, information or other inputs are made available. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine case studies for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Waiting to understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it. Leanmanufacturingtools.org defines waiting as “the act of doing nothing or working slowly whilst waiting for a previous step in the process.”

Jump to:

The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:

Defects | Overproduction | Waiting | Non-utilized Talent & Ideas | Transportation | Inventory | MotionExcessive Processing

Case Study:

Leading into the Halloween of 1999, Hershey Foods lost over $150M in revenue due to a preventable mishap in supply chain execution. The company tried to “go live” on multiple supply chain management systems at the same time. In addition, they failed to follow the prescribed implementation plan provided by the software’s developers. The result was that even though the product had been produced, they were unable to “see” the project in the newly implemented management systems and subsequently, could not process orders. Their customers and consumers were left waiting for product that did not arrive, which cost Hersey’s $150M and their customers’ businesses also took a hit. Profits dropped 19% for Q3 of that year and continued to drop for Q4 due to lost credibility and damaged customer relationships.

Corrective Action:

Hershey’s then implemented an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system that allowed them much greater visibility over their supply chain, inventory, and critical customer data.

Interesting Fact:

The software’s developer estimated 48 months to correctly implement the supply chain management system but Hershey’s rushed the implementation for fear of how Y2K would affect the computer systems. As we’re all aware of now, Y2K had no effect on computer system operability; thus this fearful and rash decision was completely unfounded.

For more details on this case study, check out the CIO article at the following link:

http://www.cio.com/article/2440386/supply-chain-management/supply-chain—hershey-s-bittersweet-lesson.html

Waiting is a waste that frequently occurs in any manufacturing operation. This is often caused by either poorly balanced work areas or unreliable processes; and sometimes both. The key is to be able to spot waiting waste as it’s happening and take quick action to eliminate it by getting to the root cause and preventing it from happening again. Fortunately, waiting is one of the easiest types of waste to see as it’s happening. It only takes one to be present, engaged, and seeking waiting waste. A great tool for this is to install a high-visibility indicator that detects movement. When the expected movement is not occurring, it can be expected that the process step is waiting and an alert can be provided. Continuous Improvement happens when people actively seek out opportunities to reduce and prevent waiting waste whenever it occurs. This happens when the appropriate cultural behaviors are being promoted.

The Factory Operating System (fOS) at factoryoperatingsystem.com also helps you see waiting waste in the form of lost efficiency. In the fOS, waiting waste would either show up as Rate Loss (if the line is running but below standard rate) or Unplanned Downtime Loss (if the line is stopped and the stoppage is recorded). This enables you to not only capture losses but also to quantify the financial impact that waiting waste is having on your business.

A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you to improve the detection and elimination of waiting waste, resulting in significant financial and lead time savings for your operation.

fOS Lead Capture2PPM Lead Capture2

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects – Overproduction

Manuficient - Overproduction (PEPCON)

Overproduction – the act of making more of something than is immediately required. In this series titled “The 8 Lean Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects”, we examine a case study for when companies, government organizations, or entire industries have allowed a specific type of waste to escalate to a disastrous effect. In this post, we review the waste of Overproduction to understand what causes it, how to see it, and how to eliminate it. Wikipedia defines overproduction as “excess of supply over demand of products being offered to the market. This leads to lower prices and/or unsold goods along with the possibility of unemployment.”

Jump to:

The 8 Wastes and Their Potentially Disastrous Effects:

Defects | Overproduction | Waiting | Non-utilized Talent & Ideas | Transportation | Inventory | MotionExcessive Processing

Case Study:

In 1988, chemical manufacturing company PEPCON, located in Hersonson, NV experienced a massive explosion of 4,500 metric tons of Ammonium Perchlorate (AP). The facility was producing AP, which is used as an oxidizer in rocket fuel, for the Challenger Space Program. In 1986 the Challenger Program was suspended after the space craft exploded in mid-air only 72 seconds after launch. PEPCON decided to continue production of AP even though there was no longer a demand for it as a way to sustain production capability without inflating costs. The company assumed that they might be able to sell the excess AP to other government programs or to the Challenger Program if it were to ever come back online. They stored the excess product in containers in a parking lot near the production facility. Finally, one of the containers containing the AP ignited and the entire highly-combustive lot went up in smoke. The explosion cause catastrophic damage, destroying the PEPCON factory and other nearby factories and residential property.

The explosion resulted in 2 deaths and and 372 injuries. It also created about $100M in related damages.

Corrective Action:

In response to this incident, the Nevada legislature passed the Chemical Catastrophe Prevention Act in 1991, and later the Chemical Accident Prevention Program.

Interesting Fact:

4,500 metric tons of this product and others were being stored on site at the time of the explosion in aluminum, HDPE, and steel drums. The blast range of the explosion was a 10 mile radius. The actual cause of the fire was never officially determined.

For more details on this case study, check out the Wikipedia article at the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PEPCON_disaster

 

Overproduction is one of the most dangerous types of lean waste because it enables all other forms of waste to occur. When factories overproduce, they create buffers that allow the manufacturing process to become disjointed from the subsequent elements of the supply chain. This enables process waste to fester in the manufacturing stage because problems in the production process have little to no effect in the company’s ability to satisfy customer demand. This buffer removes the “pain” of poor production execution and the factory loses the discipline required for true operational excellence.

There are management tools that can help to minimize the detrimental effects of overproduction and provide the foundation for increasing operational discipline. OEE is one great example for how to measure productivity so that overproduction can be eliminated and the factory can transition to more of an on-demand operation with minimal finished inventory. The Factory Operating System (fOS) at www.factoryoperatingsystem.com is a fantastic tool for implementing OEE that also drives a grassroots culture of getting better everday.

 

A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you to improve the detection and elimination of overproduction waste, resulting in potential cost savings for your operation.

fOS Lead Capture2PPM Lead Capture2

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Are Your Metrics Causing You to Lose Money?

Manuficient - Metrics

As Peter Drucker, one of the founders of the study of modern management, once said, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Rather you agree with this statement or not, the practice of measurement, or expressing things, events, and ideas numerically, is only increasing in the way we run our businesses. Metrics are critical to Continuous Performance Improvement since they provide the frame of what exactly we’re working to improve. They also provide us a perspective on things that can be imperceivable through everyday experiences. Lets look at professional basketball for example. Witnessing every game in an NBA season is not only impractical, it’s not even possible for most of the people on earth. However, with a few good metrics, you can get a quick snapshot of an entire season in just a few minutes. This is no different if you’re an executive or manager of a manufacturing company with several areas of responsibility. Without good metrics, your ability to effectively prioritize and allocate resources is severely diminished, if not completely lost. In other words, metrics can tremendously improve management effectiveness.

With that said, metrics can also completely ruin your life if ineffectively applied. As technology continues to make it easier to capture data, more and more metrics appear. But all metrics are not created equal. It takes some skills to design metrics that actually drive performance and provide you with mission-critical information in a timely manner. In the realm of Continuous Improvement, metrics should serve one primary function: provide the timely process feedback needed to drive performance improvement. I often see companies heavily invested in metrics that don’t even come close to doing this. Consequently, these metrics quickly reach a point of diminishing returns and long outlive their usefulness; resulting in dysfunctional organizational behaviors.

The following are a few traits of dysfunctional metrics:

  1. Metrics that systematically exclude improvement opportunities – The way you measure productivity is crucial to how productive you will likely become. I’ve seen cases where efficiencies over 100% were being reported on a daily basis; yet operating costs and lead times were increasing for no good reason. This is a sign that key areas for improvement opportunity are being ignored by the efficiency metric. For example, many companies measure adherence to schedule to gauge their efficiency, which is usually based on the average historical production rates. This metric inherently drives a mentality of “let’s just try not to get worse.” This measure of efficiency fails to reveal opportunities to reduce process waste that could be resulting from planned and unplanned downtime, rate loss, yield losses or others. The gold standard for measuring manufacturing productivity is Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). World class execution is considered 85%, which very few factories on earth have been able to achieve. Your metrics should show you how much better you could be and give you some insight into what to do to get better. If a factory is not using OEE, there’s a good chance they could make dramatic reductions in their operating costs and lead times. The best way to implement OEE is to use the fOS at http://factoryoperatingsystem.com. It’s free and does a great job of creating shop floor enthusiasm and excitement around your lean implementation and a culture of getting better every day.
  2. Vanity Metrics – These metrics only highlight how well the organization (or the reporting manager) is performing. They are very common and even seductive but have no place in a continuous improvement culture. Their whole purpose is to make people feel good but do not drive any real action or desire to make things better. One example of a vanity metric that I see everywhere is “Days Since a Recordable Incident”. While it’s vitally important to maintain a safe working environment, reporting this metric provides no insight to what specific opportunities exist to make the workplace more safe. As long as the number is “high enough”, everyone gets a pat on the back for not killing themselves today and go on without addressing any of the behaviors or conditions that will inevitably result in someone getting hurt. It also contributes to a culture of hiding injuries to protect the metric. A better metric would measure safe behaviors and conditions against perfection. For example, I’ve used safety audits that evaluate behaviors and working environments for any potential risk, then scores the results against well-defined criteria for a safe workplace. If someone does get hurt, the auditing criteria is modified to safeguard against the conditions that led up to the injury. This is an example of how metrics can incorporate organizational learning. The fOS has artificial intelligence that learns from you as you go. Standard run rates are updated automatically when you exceed the previously established rate for a product on a line. This continuously raises the bar and makes opportunities for improvement more easily identified.
  3. Long Reporting Intervals – Metrics designed for management should help you get better. If you are receiving a report weeks or even months apart, then you may go months before you even realize there’s a serious problem. Sure you can rely on people to be communicative and escalate issues informally, but we all know that this isn’t a reliable way to run a business. As a leader, ask yourself how long is too long before you are alerted of an issue. That should give you some insight to how frequently performance should be reported. The best systems are real-time with alerts for min-max performance thresholds. Other good systems report hour-to-hour at the line level, and day-to-day at the factory level. This allows for quick and resolute action on performance issues as they arise. The fOS automates these processes to ensure that you are the first to know when performance reaches unsatisfactory levels.
  4. Burden of Metrics – High-burden metrics create stress for the entire organization. Burden is considered the amount of time and effort required to acquire data, complete calculations, and report performance. Burden is suffered by the Line Operator who is incurring significant downtime to collect data, the Supervisor who has to constantly double-check and provide feedback to the Operator, and the Plant Manager who is constantly questioning the integrity of the metrics and requiring revisions / explanations. I’ve worked with factories that had Industrial Engineers spending over 20 hours per week collecting data and generating reports. This is a massive waste of time and talent; and very few people on the planet enjoy doing this. High-burden metrics don’t stick. As soon as the pressure lets off to keep producing the data or reports, they will gradually go away. The fOS employs a great data input design that only requires less than one minute per production run input. This not only  engages the line operator with the Continuous Improvement system, it also performs all calculation and reporting functions automatically. The data goes straight from the shop floor to all internal stakeholders instantaneously.

The right metrics make all the difference in running a successful operation. The wrong metrics can send us down a path of dysfunction and actually make us more disconnected from what’s important. Your metrics should help you get better and instill a culture of Continuous Improvement. So to answer the question in the title: no, your metrics aren’t causing you to lose money. Being inefficient causes you to lose money but your metrics aren’t doing you any service if they aren’t giving you complete, real-time, and actionable information. A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you develop or improve the quality of your metrics to ensure the right information is getting to the right people at the right time to reveal opportunities in your operation.

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.