Opera Club session on 31st March, 2011 was the second session by Prof Owen Berkeley Hill. In the first session, he made us familiar with the basic concepts of Lean Management. This session was about getting us acquainted with the concept of Standardization.
Standard Work is one of the core principles of the Lean Management. It is one of the basic and most essential tools in Operations. It is a simple written description of the safest, highest quality, and most efficient way known to perform a particular process or task. It reduces variation and increases consistency. When correctly applied, standard work will not only sustain kaizen improvements, but also expose and eliminate previously unseen waste.
Whenever information is collected for standard work, it is important to search for best practices. Observing multiple people doing the same work is a good way to let everyone see how much variation there is from unit to unit and from person to person.
And hence, Prof Owen introduced us to the concept of Standard Work and then it was followed by an interesting role play using models simulating a real life supply chain. We created groups of 6students each and each group was given a Lego car model comprising of approx 30 small parts each. We were given liberty and flexibility in choosing any 10 sub-assembled components which a student from other team would have to assemble up in least time possible. Working with small components and thinking of which all components to be a sub-assembly part and how best to portray the schema of assembly – these were some of the challenges faced. We were given the option to mention the steps in any form, i.e. to create the standard documents in any form – written, visual sketches, photographs or video. Prof Owen supervised us throughout the activity and gave us feedback on how the activity on each group could have been improved on.
Few key learning from the session:
- The standard work instruction should be kept simple and accessible. Also, the supervisors are the owner of the standard work and must understand it perfectly and train others to do it perfectly. This was one of the challenges that one of the groups faced.
- An employee can do two sub-assemblies simultaneously using both hands. This logic was what helped one team score high over the others. And this actually happens in industry where there is optimum utilization of resources.
- Real-time training of employees who are actually going to work on those equipments is very important and crucial to avoid errors. Once trained, each employee must be able to demonstrate their ability to perform the standard work perfectly.
- It is sometimes convenient to have a central sub-assembly and bring the other sub-components near it to assemble into a final component. This is observed very frequently in automobile industry and was even observed in one of the teams.
- The sub-components may be arranged in such a way that they cannot be combined together except the sole combination for final product.
- Once standard work has been created and everyone is trained, it is time to start the process and make observations. This is the time to look for improvements. Standard work should be a document subject to change; however, a process should be implemented for making changes to the standard work. If time had permitted, the improvement could actually be observed after the feedback session.
SJMSOM Class of 2012
SJMSOM Class of 2012