Flow Tools

The first stage of your lean journey is to understand and eliminate the barriers to making Value flow through your business. We deploy a suite of tools & techniques to help you identify these barriers and to introduce solutions to get Value (be that the parts, or patients, or data) flowing through each step of your Value Stream. Detailed below are examples of some of the tools we use, and the benefits they can give to you:

Ohno’s 7 Wastes (or Mudas)

In manufacturing environments these are normally defined as Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting (or Stagnation), Over-processing, Over-production, Defects. Any of these can be a reason why flow of value is interrupted, and we work with your teams to identify these wastes, and to generated ideas to eliminating them. Teaching and Coaching your teams to do this, and to develop this as a habit starts to build the internal capability of everyone in your organisation to be a lean thinker. We also recognise that in non-manufacturing environments some of these wastes don’t apply, so we have identified similar wastes that apply in other sectors.

Bottleneck identification / Theory Of Constraints (TOC) / Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

A key part of any Value Stream Mapping process is to identify the true ‘bottleneck’ in the total Value Stream. This process step provides the limit to the output of the entire value stream, but often this isn’t understood and simply by focussing on how well this asset is utilised there can be significant improvements to throughput and flow across the whole Value Stream. We utilise TOC thinking to help focus on the principles of protecting the bottleneck ,and where the process in question is a piece of equipment or machinery we train teams in developing TPM systems to ensure that these assets have improved availability and throughput.

 Visual Management / Short Interval Control Boards / Daily Kaizen

It’s important when moving towards a leaner business that we make status against plan highly visible on shopfloor, ward or office. We use visual tools extensively in our work with companies. The key is to get information as close to real-time as possible, so often our solutions are low-tech. But as decision-making tools and immediate status updates they are extremely effective. The ownership of these boards and charts are the teams at the ‘gemba’ (Japanese for ‘where the action is occurring’), and compiling and taking action on this data forms part of their daily kaizen routines.

Batch Reduction / Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED)

One of the single biggest barriers to flow across a Value Stream is the paradigm that most of us have that batching work is the most efficient way to perform a process. At a local level this is usually true, but the impact on flow can be enormous. Batching is often used to offset the time and cost around changing over the process, and this is where we teach your teams about a changeover reduction tool, SMED. By reducing the changeover time, we can make batches smaller, and by doing that we can improve the flow of the products, patients or data in the value stream. We have had amazing results using the SMED tool in our client’s organisations, with changeover times reduced by 80-90%, or even eliminated completely!